Wired magazine editor Chris Anderson shares his vision of the future
Society is on the brink of a third Industrial Revolution which will combine the revolutions in machines and information into a new business model, says an expert on the information age.
Chris Anderson, author and editor-in-chief of Wired magazine, said society is beginning to see a third industrial revolution built around the success of the web over the past 20 years.
That web model produced a revolution in how people work together.
The success and lesson of the web was limited to information, but “can work in the physical world,” he said.
“Just wait until the same model is applied to manufacturing.”
He said the digital trends of peer production, open-source, crowdsourcing and user-generated content are now hitting the physical world.
Anderson, one of the top voices on the new economy and the future of business, was in Calgary on Thursday as the first speaker in the Mount Royal University’s Legacy of Ideas event.
As part of the university’s centennial celebrations, MRU is presenting Legacy of Ideas, a speakers series featuring renowned thinkers with big ideas.
A recent article in Wired (In the next Industrial Revolution, atoms are the new bits) will be the basis of a new book for Anderson.
“Here’s the history of two decades in one sentence: If the past 10 years have been about discovering post-institutional social models on the web, then the next 10 years will be about applying them to the real world,” he wrote in that article.
“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.”
In his article, Anderson said the tools of factory production, from electronics assembly to 3-D printing, are now available to individuals, in batches as small as a single unit.
“Anybody with an idea and a little expertise can set assembly lines in China into motion with nothing more than some keystrokes on their lap- top,” he wrote. “A few days later, a prototype will be at their door, and once it all checks out, they can push a few more buttons and be in full production, making hundreds, thousands, or more. They can become a virtual micro-factory, able to design and sell goods without any infrastructure or even inventory; products can be assembled and drop-shipped by contractors who serve hundreds of such customers simultaneously.”
Anderson, who is the author of FREE: The Future of a Radical Price, is also known for advocating in his book the making of money by giving things away.
It may not be the business model society has been used to for a long time but it is the wave of the future, he said.
“Free is not saying you can’t make money and you can’t charge for something,” said Anderson. But it’s working together to market paid product and is the “first 21st-century business model.”
Wendelin Fraser, dean of the Bissett School of Business at MRU, said Anderson offers a valuable perspective.
People and students want to understand changes and what they should be open to and how business will operate in a different kind of platform, said Fraser.