What happens when everyone is a maker?

This story is about AgIC, an add-on to your good, old-fashioned inkjet printer. No, it’s not a refillable ink cartridge that rivals, per unit volume, the price of human blood. Instead, it’s conductive ink that lets you print electronic circuits.

That’s amazing.

It’s amazing because, similarly to its cousin, the CircuitScribe, it allows you to create your own, ad hoc, circuit boards.

Just so you know, circuit boards ARE A PAIN. You can etch them yourself, but it requires chemicals and a darkroom, in a ritual not unlike developing a photograph (and who does that anymore).

Alternatively, you can have your files sent off to a PCB (Printed Circuit Board) maker, somewhere off in China, and get charged out the ass for a single-run, one-sided board (in my experience, something like $60). And that’s not even counting expedited shipping.

Fuck that.

I’m pretty sure we live in the future now. One where I can use 3D printing and Sugru to create whatever the hell I want. And more importantly, one where I can use the Internet to research and sell the things I want to make.

The best part is that this comes at a time when consumers (especially young consumers) don’t necessarily care about cheap. Instead, they want quality, they want bespoke, they want exclusive (or as some might argue, inane).

What this means is the growth of market spaces like:

  • Etsy
  • Amazon small business
  • Ebay

But with growth, you have to take the good with the bad. For every homespun infinity scarf, there will be three paperclip figurines.

So the secret, when everyone is a maker, is curation.

How do you create a community that polices for quality? Or better yet, how do you make an algorithm for curation?

Reddit does a good job surfacing content. People used to still complain about the interminable dross on r/pics. So what happened in response? The community created r/DepthHub, r/truereddit, and r/bestof, where curation is done by hand. As a whole, Reddit’s “Sort By Best” algorithm does a FANTASTIC job of bring up deep, well-written, emotional content. But that’s within a single thread. AND, it has the added benefit of AMAZING user engagement.

This is the same thing that I believe Ev Williams is trying to do with Medium. It’s going to be THE place that will surface AMAZING, ENGAGING, UNIQUE content.

It’s what Twitter is doing: surfacing pictures, statuses, and reports from around the globe.

It’s what eBay is doing too.

So, the question remains:

How can you automate curation across your site? Then, how can you implement it across all apps?

And if you’re not a tech darling, how do you not get left behind?


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