The New Industrial Revolution

I was simultaneously thumb wrestling one-on-one with a bearded business executive and a group of fellow attendees during a keynote at Canada 3.0.

Needless to say, Canada 3.0 was one of the more unusual conferences I’d attended. In terms of substance, Canada 3.0 featured the new industrial revolution, insights into content marketing, and how gaming could be the medium that saves businesses tons of wages.

THE NEW INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION

Chris Anderson, former editor-in-chief of Wired Magazine and cofounder and CEO of 3DRobotics, spoke about what he believes is the next Industrial Revolution: desktop 3D printing and the Maker Movement.

He draws parallels to how desktop publishing changed the world; instead of having publishing be stuck in the wealthy hands of those who owned publishing factories, staff, and expensive printing equipment, desktop publishing essentially put a “personal factory” on everyone’s desk. This technology was not only made widely accessible and available, it also democratized the process of publishing.

Today, it’s advanced even further: with the click of one button, publishers could theoretically reach millions of people through one blog post.

Anderson likens the 3D printer to the Publish button. Instead of being held back by equipment and expertise, desktop publishing made it easy for even the most amateur users to share their thoughts. Similarly, instead of having a lack of expertise or material as restrictions, users of 3D printers can now create real-world items to their specification and share them with the world through the cloud.

Autodesk 123D (and Catch), Thingiverse, Alibaba, and Shapeways were among many other resources that Anderson shared in his keynote.

While many crowds are skeptical of 3D printing (especially given the recent scare spread by the printing of the 3D gun), Anderson pointed out that 3D printing isn’t exactly the best way to print guns. The material simply doesn’t offer enough stability; similarly, guns can be purchased at retailers like Wal-Mart—or can be custom-assembled without much difficulty with a variety of metal pieces and pipes.

Canada 3.0 offered many insights into the way business, and life, will be in the next decade. From what it looks like, it’s going to be an extremely exciting ride.