The industrial revolution is over. What exactly does this mean? Well, for starters it means that a new kind of industrial revolution is under way.
It used to be that in order to produce any ‘technological’ product you needed to own a machine. You needed a factory. A machine that could mass produce identical products as inexpensively as possible. Because the economics of scale was everything.
Now, the rules are changing. The economics of scale has changed and production itself is being commoditized. Mass production processes have become more sophisticated and low volume production is economically feasible. You can see obvious signs of this in the flood of dirt cheap, really low quality photo gear that floods the market. Production is cheap; let’s pump out cheap copies of any product we can find, and dump them on ebay.
That doesn’t sound so good, but there is a flip side to this. For someone who actually cares about their tools, who wants to create something of quality, the same production machinery is available.
Transformative change happens when industries democratize, when they’re ripped from the sole domain of companies, governments, and other institutions and handed over to regular folks. 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.
— Chris Anderson in Wired article Atoms Are the New Bits
Advanced design and engineering tools are available to pretty much everyone; 3D modeling software, electronic simulation, software development, etc. If you have knowledge, or are willing to acquire knowledge, and willing to put your knowledge to work there is almost not limits to what you can create these days.
This is maybe the most exciting part of this. It used to be that a company created a product and then ran out trying to find customers for the product. This process should be turned around. Products for customers instead of customers for products. The Internet enables a model where photographers can discuss what they want in a product and then the product gets made. You don’t need any technical knowledge to discuss products and features, you need to have an opinion on what you want from a product.
This is a multi-disiplinary undertaking. Like making a film. A multitude of skills are needed. If you do have technical knowledge you are welcome to join in the actual creation of the products.
Open source hardware and software
We don’t believe technology lock-in is a good thing. The open source model tend to result in higher quality and more easily integrated hardware and software.
When specifications and designs are accessible to anyone, it is easier to make products that communicate and play well together. Users are not tied in to a company’s proprietary architecture.
Open source means shared knowledge. Shared knowledge drives innovation and progress.
We are currently working on a product codenamed Floyd and we’re building prototypes. When it is done, we’ll produce it and you will be able to buy it (or make it yourself, if you’re into that). What will the next product be? That is up to you. You can upload your concept, discuss it with others photogs, refine it and the community will vote on what concepts should go into production. There will a well defined process to this. We’ll launch this when the current product gets closer to production.