Introduction to the Prosumer


Way back in 1980, futurist Alvin Toffler published ‘The Third Wave’, which outlined his “prosumer theory”. Here Toffler contrasted life before the industrial revolution as one where most people produced what they consumed, calling them ‘prosumers’. With the industrial revolution came specialisation, production for exchange, and an increasing divide between production and consumption, resulting in the consumer culture that dominated the last decade.

Toffler went on to speculate that the third wave, the “post industrial revolution”, would evolve with a shift back to prosumer culture. That the computer (connected with a telephone) will aid this process to not only help design the product that a consumer desires, but to also automate the production process with laser cutters and even painting.

“In the end, the consumer, not merely providing specs but punching the button that sets the entire process in action, will become as much part of the production process as the denim-clad assembly-line worker was in the world now dying….
If linked via a telephone to a personal computer, (will)permit a customer to feed in his or her various dimensions, select appropriate cloth(material) and then actually activate the laser cutter – without leaving his or her home.”

Not bad Alvin, fairly well sums up the Ponoko platform and process in use over 25 years later.

To read more about Alvin Toffler check out his site or his Wikipedia entry.

To keep up to date with prosumer happenings subscribe to Ponoko’s blog feed

If you feel you are ready to join the prosumer revolution, get denim clad, make sure you computer is hooked up to your telephone and sign up for a Ponoko account

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