Industry talk of the Internet of Things is usually focused on how each and every thing in our lives is going to connect to the Internet and share what it knows. And the online shopping metrics show that the Internet has forever changed how we purchase things. But what about how we share them?
The Maker Community
Hobbyists are sort of the physical world hackers. They find ways to do what they need to get done, and in the process they sometimes come up with very innovative solutions. Before the Internet, they might be able to get ideas from magazines like Popular Mechanics or Popular Electronics. Maybe they would start with a Heathkit model of something close to what they wanted. Now many might start with an Arduino and build a prototype of the machine they need. And they share their ideas on the Internet as part of the maker community. The challenge for many that want to participate in the maker world is that while they would like to consume (and maybe slightly modify) things from other makers, they are not ready to design it from the ground up themselves. (The change from Do-It-Yourself to Do-It-With-Others - collaborative innovation.)
3D Printing as Distribution
The folks from MakerBot realized early on that 3D printing had two markets: one for designers of things that wanted a way to build one-off parts, and another for people who wanted to print things that others had designed. To foster the second market, they created Thingiverse, where any user can post the design files for something they have created and let others print their own copies.