Glenn Reynolds' Tech Central Station column on personal fabricators mentions Neil Gershenfeld's new book, FAB: The Coming Revolution on Your Desktop--From Personal Computers to Personal Fabrication. It reminded me of a fascinating news conference the director of MIT's Center for Bits and Atoms gave in late March. I was taking care of my son, with CSPAN on in the background, when I found myself enthralled by Gershenfeld's talk (there's a RealPlayer link here, but it's not working for me, for some reason.)
What really impressed me was what he said toward the end. This isn't an exact quote, but I quickly scribbled down the essence of what he said. The people who should be paying attention to his work are not the ones who read Science and Nature. Those publications were not written for those who ultimately will accept or reject new technological concepts.
This is the assumption I wake up with every day -- that there is a crucial need for as many people as possible to understand that we all, in our lifetimes, will experience vast technological changes that will forever alter the way we interact with our environment, with one another and with our own bodies. It will not be too long before we rub our eyes, look around and wonder what happened to the world in which we were born.
At times, I blog out of shear frustration over how inadequately I see these changes being covered by most of the science and technology publications and Web sites I read. They're either tailored toward a closed-in set of technogeeks who speak the same code understood by nobody, or written in language that parrots the scientists and oh so impresses themselves, yet is impenetrable to a broad audience.
At the end of Gershenfeld's talk, I blurted out "Yes!" And that's when my then-9-month-old son learned that his father was crazy. He was bound to find out eventually.
The Dream Factory: (Wired, Dec. 2004)