The Democratization of Manufacturing

Image Source: Wired

Marx reasoned that violent revolution was the only way for the proletariat to over through the bourgeoisie as they owned the means of production. However, a new age is dawning and the means of production is now available to anyone with an internet connection, including the students in our classroom. The need for us to teach our students the new skills required for literacy is more pressing than ever.

Two sources have had me thinking about this and the skills we will need to teach students in order to give them every opportunity to succeed in their future. The first was a video from 2007 of  Thomas Friedman entitled “The World is Flat 3.0” posted on MIT World. In it, he describes how globalization has evolved from being Nation driven in the era of Colonialism, to Corporation driven in the era of the multi-nationals, to being driven by the individual in today’s era of internet connectivity. He provides some excellent examples of individuals who use a computer and a good idea to create products and export them to markets. I also came across an article in Wired Magazine’s Feb. edition called “The New Industrial Revolution” that gives more examples of the individual as manufacturer and the ability for him/her to utilize a community of collaborators to make product improvements. The article nicely summarizes the transition to the new revolution:

The Internet democratized publishing, broadcasting, and communications, and the consequence was a massive increase in the range of both participation and participants in everything digital — the long tail of bits.

Now the same is happening to manufacturing — the long tail of things.

Micro-manufacturing is already happening in our world, and chances are some of the kids you teach today will have a viable idea they can produce and market themselves. Are we giving them the skills to employ there idea? Granted, some of these future entrepreneurs will figure it out for them selves. But I don’t believe that is the point of public education. Our task is to give ALL students the skills necessary for them to be successful.

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