Doctorow, C. (2009). Makers. New York: Tor. Download the book (legally) from his website: http://craphound.com/makers/download/
Why a science fiction book? Because Doctorow is one of those deep thinkers who shed light on the future developments of our society and its technology. Doctorow shows the power of inexpensive 3D printers coupled with reclaimed discarded gadgets. While at it he lampoons mega-corporations, the profit motive, the business models that mean that novel ideas can command premium prices until all the imitators produce their own knockoffs at lower and lower prices, either because they have cheaper labor, figured out more efficient manufacturing or design, or are simply les greedy. Then, either one wages a death spiral of continuing lower prices toward unprofitability or it is time to get out and invent something even newer and better. But why? It is in answering the why that the book enters its most important phase: Why not use this creativity and powerful technology to help those who need it the most? Or better yet, to give people the tools to help themselves.
Doctorow describes the book like this:
Makers ... is about people who hack hardware, business-models, and living arrangements to discover ways of staying alive and happy even when the economy is falling down the toilet. Weirdly, I wrote it years before the current econopocalypse, as a parable about the amazing blossoming of creativity and energy that I saw in Silicon Valley after the dotcom crash, after all the money dried up.
He puts this new phase of creativity and energy in Florida. Silicon Valley is old and jaded. The VCs have sucked the creativity out. The hot new developments no longer need a central location or the heavy overhead of VC bondage. Why not Florida, or for that matter, anyplace in the world. All that is required is the courage to try new things, to explore, to fail - and fail often -- and to learn from the failures. The hardest part of this is to change the culture to encourage the sort of creative exploration that rewards creative failure with the opportunity to try again, but even bigger, even better, learning from the past while forging the future.