color, current demand vs. ultra customization

From: C.McArdle (
Date: Wed Jan 29 1997 - 00:45:08 EET

Well OK, now, here's a conversation for some of the rest of us.

Michael brings up a good point about where the really huge commercial
opportunity lies. Once the technology escapes the confines of "how does
this help us do what we have been doing less expensively" and is ubiquitous
enough, or refined enough, or whatever it is (therein lies one Biq
Question: what is the "it"), and becomes the kind of tool Michael is
talking about, then the sorts of linear breakeven-and-profit commercial
questions that are part of (to bastardize Kuhn's term) Normal Enterprise
become worthwhile and practical (read profitable). I am saying that on a
small scale, with limitless (relative to the objective) funding, this kind
of "mass customization" is entirely conceivable, perhaps even predictable.

But the kind of shift that Michael is wishing for is (I think strictly
speaking) the equivalent of Kuhn's scientific paradigm shift, which, if
memory serves, he identified with small groups of highly specialized
scientists sharing a very specific and unique vocabulary. If you expand
that out to a reasonably diverse group of interests with something in
common (this list), nevermind the culture at large, you are talking about a
different economics.

My point here is that even if the technology was substantially more
integrated into the related manufacturing processes for finished goods, and
was widely available at your local kiosk on the street, it might be a very
long time before most people would even be able to concieve of a use for it
at the level of, say, a tapemeasure - beyond the novelty value.

So what you have is:
- An enormous industrial overhead that is fundamentally designed to achieve
reduced cost of goods via economies of scale.
- A non-existent craftsman class that could fill a hypothetical demand.
- A culture of creative self-determinists (sic); not a massive
consumer/labor (middle) class.

Michael, if you can figure out how to deal with that, I'll come work for
you. You will make Gates look like a dolt.

OK, lemme have it ; >


Dear Darcy,

you wrote

<Re: FULL PHOTOGRAPHIC COLOR, while there isn't alot of current demand for
applications in this area to warrant alot of new development here, I believe
that it will be applications of this nature that will bring this technology
to the consumer marketplace.


Although I understand exactly what you mean by "current demand" I'm
frustrated by this. There is no current demand because people don't see what
it can do. Imagine a world without color film, color tv, color movies, color
magazines. It is almost unfathomable. Imagine a world in which the prototype
of say a nike tennis shoe has text and graphics and photos of the appropriate
star all over it. In 1959 I can hear converse saying "we've got a good
product--no one wants those funny looking graphics and big soles on their
basket ball shoes". etc.,.

This concept of current demand is rather odd. ON the one hand it is exactly
the way prudent decisions are made concerning market etc.,. I put to you
though that most people don't know what they want until they see it. This
concept doesn't only stop there: Movies are made demographically a subtle
term for "current demand" --politicians give speeches in electorates
demographically-- they say what people want to hear and then go about the
business of what ever it was they were doing before they had to bother with
this election stuff.

The promise of this technology to this culture is ultra customization not
"current demand". One of the reasons i am so passionate about rp is that it
has the potential to reorient people to a creative relationship with their
lives. As a result of RP, I can design and fabricate a custom tape measure
for myself, or works of art for around the house or for sale, or a left
handed drill to place stock motors, gears and clutches into, on and on and
on. I can literally make my life.

And my rants


Michael Rees

Best regards,

C. McArdle

203.853.4971 (facsimile)

124 Rowayton Woods Drive
Norwalk, CT 06854-3938

"In every important decision, there is one option that represents life, and
that is what you must choose... Life is something in motion."

-- Charlotte Perriand

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