When human beings discovered what you could do with a machine, little could they envision the extent to which these inanimate objects would transform our lives. With the first industrial revolution, machines took over the hard labor. Two hundred years, later machines made it possible for production to be democratized. With a push of a button—Zap!—it became possible for a single individual to share an idea with the world!
According to Chris Anderson, WIRED magazine editor and author of the new book, Makers: The New Industrial Revolution, we are in the nascent moments of the Third Industrial Revolution, in which the lessons learned from the web are being applied everywhere. Makers are the new creative class. Essentially, manufacturing and creative design have become democratic movements in which the limiting boundaries of resource and capital are rapidly fading into the ethers of our recent past.
Take the notion of 3D printing, an emerging technology which allows the physical creation of simple prototype products through a portable printer. When Chris asked how many in the room had heard of 3D printers, about a quarter of those present responded affirmatively. When he asked who had acquired a 3D printer, only one individual raised their hand. But it was what he said next which created a mini shock wave. He indicated that a printer which could create a prototype could be purchased for as low as $500! Heck, that was the cost of one good-sized ad in my local newspaper back in the day.
The Makers Movement, a.k.a. the Third Industrial Revolution, has implications for every industry. Making things will no longer depend on where things can be made most cheaply, but is rapidly transitioning towards a movement of where things can be made most responsively and create solutions in a world where not only is change constant, it is also rapid.
Some issues and questions come to mind as I reflect on what this could mean for the real estate industry:
- How should the role of a REALTOR® change or shift to enhance the process of decision making in an increasingly unpredictable world?
- How will the democratization of data dissemination and data production impact the role of REALTORS® and REALTOR® organizations?
- How can the innate strengths of service and responsiveness be positioned to facilitate the re-invention of the REALTOR® brand in a world where everyone can not only create something, but can also claim to be an expert?
These are some of the questions rumbling through the corridors of my mind as the emerging industrial renaissance is creating a demand for making things that, in turn, create solutions in context. One statement about the Makers Movement resonates when Chris says, “Asking dumb questions liberates other people to ask their own dumb questions.” As a REALTOR®, I remember something which I always tell my clients: There are no dumb questions! Dumb answers, maybe. Dumb questions, in my opinion? Rarely.