The Next Industrial Revolution

Posted by

What is the future of business?

In my book, Six Pixels of Separation, I recount a story about how much the world of business has changed and evolved in the past little while…

"On a recent trip to a speaking event, the driver was pointing out to me how the local area had once been a great industrial port where ships came to load and unload their stock and filled the whole north eastern part of North America with goods. The city was bustling, the local economy was swelling, and families were moving into the neighborhoods. He went on to say, however, that the shipping had slowed down in recent years to the point where that port was now empty because the demand was not there any-more. He felt it was a shame and a sad state of affairs for the world at large. I had one simple and lucid thought as I stared at the rusted cranes and dilapidated harbor area: We’re still ship­ping tons of stuff, but we’ve shifted from crates and barrels into bits and bytes now. Yes, this creates change and, in this town’s economy, real human distress. It’s sad, very sad. But the pace of change continues to increase and all of us have to get much better at spotting these trends or, at the very least, doing our best to stay informed and connected. We also have to accept another very real concept: It’s going to shift from bits and bytes into something else as well and we are not (and cannot be) prepared for that, either."

A wired world (or one that is quickly untethering from those wires) will look and be different.

The current cover story of Wired Magazine (February 2010) is mandatory reading. Written by the Chris Anderson (who is both the Editor of the magazine and author of two best-selling business books, The Long Tail and Free), the article is titled, The New Industrial Revolution, and looks at what could well be the future of business as we know it…

"Here’s the history of two decades in one sentence: If the past 10 years have been about discovering post-institutional social models on the Web, then the next 10 years will be about applying them to the real world. This story is about the next 10 years. Transformative change happens when industries democratize, when they’re ripped from the sole domain of companies, governments, and other institutions and handed over to regular folks. The Internet democratized publishing, broadcasting, and communications, and the consequence was a massive increase in the range of both participation and participants in everything digital — the long tail of bits. Now the same is happening to manufacturing — the long tail of things."

Yup, it’s juicy, so stop reading this and head over to read this: Wired Magazine – The New Industrial Revolution.

It turns out that the revolution will be televised (and manufactured).


  1. I agree that the last ten years have brought about many new and continuously emerging models for social interaction. There are so many ways to interact with one another and learn over the web. Few could have imagined social media as it is today ten years ago.
    This video offers an interesting perspective on how social media can be used in education.

    I think it will be interesting to see how social media applications like Twitter evolve over the coming years.

  2. I think people are discovering their true nature and realize that working a 9 to 5 does not do it for them, as a result, these small hobby industries begin to flourish.
    One thing to keep in mind is that although this sounds great, we neglect the fact that all things manufactured end up in a junk yard or overseas. Legislation needs to be enforced to the point where design is designed for disassembly and recyclability otherwise we just continue to do things the way they are!
    Why do we only hear of American companies?

  3. I feel like we are still in that limbo mode between the old crate and barrell manufacturing and the new world of bits and bytes. And because we are in this current inbetween mode, I don’t think we can say for sure what transformative effects it will have on our society. These transformations are still playing out right before our eyes. That’s exciting though. We are truly living in interesting times.

  4. I think you’ve really hit the nail on the head, Mitch. There is no doubt that social media is here to stay. This video does a nice job of putting important facts together:
    I think it is a scary yet very real notion that this bits and bytes era will develop into something else and that we will not be prepared for it – but something I can vouche for is the idea that social media is here to stay. Yes, past social media formats have come and gone, but as new online vehicles come into existence, we begin to see how powerful social and digital media makes us, whether as individuals or part of some sort of global community.
    What this means for the manufacturing sector specifically I could not say, but I feel that we all, regardless of work fields, will eventually need to embrace it all.

  5. “Social Media” is redundant.
    Just like “Broadcast Television” is now redundant.
    Hell, even the word “media” seems wrong these days. It feels more like plain old “living” than it feels like “media.”
    Therefore, using this logic, Social Media could now be called Living.
    – Will

  6. I agree. Metapossibilities are appearing through social networking. People are discovering new uses and expanded possible uses. It’s opening up to a democratization of the internet.

Comments are closed.