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Monday

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Making Without People

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by Brian Haven
@ 3:40 PM

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In this third epoch of making, making starts to look familiar to most of us. I initially described Making Without People as: mechanized manufacturing and the assembly line place the means of production into the hands of the enterprise, initiating the concept of "the consumer."


As these communities, cultures, and societies continued to advance, another significant shift in the process of making took place—a movement toward mass efficiency. When organizations emerged—the enterprise—they took over most making, further distancing people from the process.


This shift coincided with the Industrial Age (Toffler’s Second Wave), which stripped away the intimate interaction between the individual and the purpose of the object being made—essentially removing the individual from the process altogether. Women on Assembly Line Stamping Hams
[Women on Assembly Line Stamping Hams from Wisconsin Historical Society on flickr]
Mechanized manufacturing processes displaced making from the community of use to centralized remote locations. This displaced making by known community members to unknown people and machines—from specialization and division of labor to the assembly line.


Industrialization changed the focus of making from the needs of individuals to the processes required to enable mass production and distribution. Efficiency increased dramatically and organizations grew significantly, initiating the displacement of the specialist in favor of the operationally superior enterprise. Mass production and distribution capabilities meant that industrial enterprises achieved a greater influence over individuals, resulting in a substantial increase in the standardization of usage. Over time, individuals saw their autonomy diminish as the enterprise achieved a position of control, dictating what was made and how it would be used. Dominant and encroaching for the past 100 years, this type of making turned us all into ‘consumers.’


We’ve lived quite a while with the industrialization of making and the autonomy of institution that control the making. It took the democratizing power of the Web and social technologies to initiate the fourth epoch, which is just beginning now. More on that in my next post.

 

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The second epoch of making, Making For People, is a...
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I’ve talked about the four epochs of making over the...
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