30 Years Forward
Step forward. A problem presents itself. Step forward. An idea emerges. Step forward. Your idea materializes with a realization – you have the power to manipulate the physical universe in ways you have never imagined. Ideas are no longer bound to neurons, freed from the electro-chemical pulses that push thought, progress, and the next step of human evolution ever forward.
We recently had the unique opportunity to visit Stratasys, the manufacturers of the fused deposit modeling (FDM) production Fortus 900mc, the backbone of our additive manufacturing approach. This machine represents an incredible future, an awe-inspiring glimpse into the next thirty years our lives. The machine itself is a work of art. Perfectly engineered to accomplish a perplexingly infinite set of tasks, governed by a simple set of rules that guide the print head gantry and depositing table. The simplicity of the machine’s motion, moving through the horizontal and vertical space is hypnotic – entrancing the team as we stood watching – peering, not just through space, but time itself. Behind the glass, layer by layer, designs of unimaginable complexity are deposited. Through the looking glass all is not what it seems – through this window it appears so simple, so logical, so unimpressively and flawlessly perfect. Carl Sagan left us a quote to better understand the complexity of this machine:
If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe.
This is the perfect extrapolation of the meaning behind these machines. This machine represents the Universe, the sum total of all of our collective manufacturing, design, and engineering knowledge. A representation of how we manipulate matter, control energy, and interact with complex routines and programs encased in thermoplastics and metal. Behind its machined skin, a complex mesh of wire, silicon, and metal are formed, patterned, and organized to create a universe in which we can create almost anything, designed to create the metaphorical apple pie. This machine represents the accumulated knowledge of creating from the dawn of man – where the first cutting tools appeared and for the next 2.6 million years of evolution. I am made humble.
We entered the production floor and stepped 30 years into the future. We entered a world where need and innovation are fused together with thermoplastics and realization. A place where everyone is touched by the experimental and practical application of additive manufacturing. A pen-holder made for the overhang on the nearby refrigerator, fishing-rod clamps for an engineer’s boat, the evidence of experimentation is everywhere. A place where ideas are brought to life in minutes and the barrier between need and satisfaction is a keystroke. Timescales contract.
We had the pleasure of working with some of humanity’s most brilliant and visionary trans-human explorers. People that have already taken a step toward French philosopher Pierre Teilhard de Chardinthe purest and most powerful definition of “Liberty: that is to say, the chance offered to every man (by removing obstacles and placing the appropriate means at his disposal) of ‘trans-humanizing’ himself by developing his potentialities to the fullest extent.”
This trip left us awe-inspired, hopeful and hungry for more. Hungry to be near the source of such limitless potential, to return to our canvases heavy with inspiration and laden with potential. The trip left me with more than just inspiration – it left me with a glimpse into our future and three ways in which our lives will be altered in every way imaginable.
They have left
Advertisers, mass-producers, and businesses are just lingering. Relics of outdated business models. They tell you what you need, they tell you what you want, and most frustrating they control the access. We can look forward to that power structure crumbling. Our children will usher the archaic era of selection out and replace it with creation. Creation that feels as familiar as the online commerce experiences in which we frequently engage. A world that’s a response to individual needs, not the consumption of a limited set of mass-produced goods engineered for profit.
A Shift in Control
Our future is written in material production. Stock will rise in organizations that create, control, and deliver the spools of thermoplastics, metals, and filaments that our printers will consume, enabling us to create the world around us. As one power structure falls, another rises but with the potential to have societal benefit. Recycling materials will become a function of profit and total consumption will be drastically reduced through the end of subtractive tooling and shaping.
Liberty is the value of an individual’s agency. Control over action is controlled by money, access to power. The more money and power one has, the less control others can exert. Societal structures and classes will shift as the value of production is lowered and the value of the original intent, the idea itself, is increased. Money can be controlled, patents can be issued, but ideas – ideas can’t be contained – for better or worse. The Liberator recently tested this theory. We find ourselves in the brackish waters of transition, where one man’s liberty surpasses control.
This is the daunting emptiness associated with the blank canvas. The inescapable potential of the undefined has troubled designers, architects, painters, and writers since we started projecting our fantasies, stories and ideas on the cave wall. This is our only restraint, this is the only remaning concept holding us back from our collective destiny, from our promised future. Take a step with us as we forge ahead, one board, one innovation, one fearless leap toward a future we all deserve and one that’s well worth it.
Falling in isn’t as easy as it seems. As sailors, as surfers, as humans we resist the pull of gravity against our bodies. Our muscles tense and twist in reaction to the forces against them, all synchronized in a perfect ballet of motion and strength. And as our minds send signal upon signal to combat these forces we remain fully aware of our surroundings, conscious of our resistance to falling. The ability to walk upright is a defining trait of humanity and one we protect with every step. But ever so often we are presented with the opportunity to fall. To return to our playful origins as children, as toddlers taking our first steps in a world to be explored and discovered. It is rare that falling comes with little consequence, but then most things that happen in the water are rarities in the continuum of our lives. The water, deep and blue, calls to each of us. The water is not a place to resist, it is a place to ebb, and flow. To fall in.
Those that are new to windsurfing, surfing and paddling are more familiar with this sensation than we are, or at least they haven’t perfected the art of resisting it quite yet. There is a lesson that comes with each fall, with each submerging of our bodies – and one that can sometimes be lost, splashed over. Falling is perfection. There is no technique, there is no progression, there is no quality. There is only falling. It is a response, the environment and millions upon millions of years of evolution have prepared us to fall perfectly. Recall the last time you were pushed into a pool, played at the seashore and were overcome by a wave, had the exquisite pleasure of diving into the ocean – you’ll most likely recall the absolute stillness of the moment. You’ll recall how the world becomes quiet as you break the surface of the water, washed over. Quieter still. In that moment we have a chance to learn that falling is essential, that falling is laughter. It is joy and it is often the moment we can recall most easily.
I believe it is important that we remember to fall. That we place the pleasure of the late afternoon sun, the salt, and the warmth above the speed, the duration, and the complexity. Faster isn’t better. Lighter isn’t better. Stiffer isn’t better. They are simply faster, lighter and stiffer. As sailors, surfers, and paddlers, we’ve been told that these are very important measurements of happiness – sometimes overtly, sometimes subtly. We are shown image after image of the perfect wave, the perfect breeze carrying surfers etched in an eternal bottom turn, a windsurfer cradled in her harness, balanced in the fulcrum between sail and board. We’re told that there’s a board for every day, every wave, every breeze, every fluctuation. We can see the evidence of this as we run back to the beach to rig down, change boards, gather – frenetic motion. Falling in is a forced stop, a slowing down. The influence and seduction of speed, power, the “extreming” of all things has become a siren’s call and one that we generally answer with our wallets.
I feel it falling, nothing comes to my mind
Bring it on in a different tide
I feel alright, alright, now
We’ve been told we are all poor craftsmen. We are shown image after image of professional sailors, surfers, and paddlers and these images are equated with the perfection of craft. There’s usually a logo in that photo, a path to happiness, a tool for your quiver. Your Grandfather probably told you “It’s the poor craftsman who blames his tools” and he’s right – but the reality is we aren’t the the craftsmen of the tools we buy. You have the tools you need to be great. One body, one board, one sail, one paddle. In time you’ll find that you’ve worn through, softened the deck, finished the roll of duct tape and when you do we’ll help you find exactly what you need. We will never advocate for excess, only progress. We hope that your fondest memories of your board will be from the waterline, as you play on a listless day. A day when you’ve decided to go out, after everyone else has given up. You’ll reflect for a moment with a smile on your face and salt on your skin, that falling in is what connects us to the sea. We hope that you’ll choose MADE to be there with you. Fall in.
Made For All
We set out to create a movement that transcends borders, ideologies, generations. A movement based on an idea that empowers each and every one of us, an anthem that declares there is a better way and a commitment to changing the way the objects, ephemera, effects, possessions, necessities and goods are created. We’ve demonstrated in one corner of the industrial world that a sailboard, a surfboard, a paddle board can be made better, made with less waste, made smarter, connected to your life in every way you would expect, a living extension of your passion. We’re not stopping there.
MADE will continue to grow and use its influence for positive change. We will take your commitment to our idea and use it to innovate for the benefit of all of us. We will turn profits into powerful instruments of influence that will drive healthier industries, benefitting global, regional and local economies. We are committed to this approach because we’ve seen the positive effect digital has had on our world – the catastrophic effect on controlling regimes that have been toppled by those empowered with knowledge, connected to each other through the space created by technology. So far this power has been contained behind our screens through messages, texts, emails, apps and web videos. We believe that the democratization of manufacturing will have the same effect on society that the equitable distribution of information has had on each of us.
We sit at dinner wondering where the battle was fought, who the actor was, the name of the hotel – and we have in our hands, instant access to information, delivered through connected devices that are always nearby. Information that comes from myriad sources, colorful, and full of stories and personal experiences – painting a vibrant and sumptuous image of our connected lives. We believe that our next evolutionary step as a global society will come from the democratization of creating. Creating the objects we need, the objects we desire. Aligning atoms and elements, ordering the physical world to meet our ever growing needs in a sustainable and intelligent manner. We will move past the antiquated production methods that we’ve grown on and move towards smarter material use, better understanding of needs, and a philosophy that isn’t driven by an unrelenting accumulation of goods.
None of this can be accomplished without you. We are listening to what you need, we are using technology to better understand you, and we are working with partners that are committed to social change and empowerment through economic development. We will be dedicated to using our influence to improve the human condition and we need your support to do so. MADE is yours. MADE is the future that we need to believe in and we will uphold our promise through unrelenting innovation, conscientious economic growth and positive social change. At the end of the day we are a company driven by market factors and the hope that our creative output will become a useful and valued part of your life. The realities of business and the exchange of goods and services should be for the benefit of all humanity, not the select few and the privileged. We are a brand that goes far beyond the transactional, you’ll never have to spend money to participate. We will continue to create for you, want to share with you our perspective, our view, and invite you into our world. When you decide to spend your money on our ideas, our products, it will be met with the highest regard and each interaction will be personal, bespoke and leave you with the feeling that you’ve attained something worthwhile. Your money will be used to further the idea, to find new ways to explore our world, to reduce waste, to find great minds to solve great problems and to organizations that need the help of those with influence. This is a movement designed for change. Shake the tree and help us make the apple fall. We will succeed and a brilliant future awaits.
So rise, and shine
Nows the time to be alive
To stay awake with me a while, and smile
The soul of MADE is simplicity. Simplicity experienced through what you don’t need, not the evidence of what you possess. MADE believes goodness emerges from simplicity, happiness thrives in simplicity, and as humans we strive to achieve a simpler existence. We believe simplicity is a deliberate act and one that takes a great deal of care. This is evident in the philosophy that drives our approach to design, construction and business organization – evidenced through our product, our message and the experience we create.
If you’re already a practicing windsurfer, SUP’er or surfer, step into your garage, take inventory. Start small. Fins, lines, straps, rigging tools. Scale up to spars – booms, masts, and now on to sails. Lay out all of this in an imaginary space, side by side. We’re up to boards now. How many? Is it more than? If you’re a paddler or surfer you might fall into the enviable category of one. I want that to be the rallying call of our sports. One. We will fiercely innovate towards One. One is the answer to need. One is the vehicle that brings you to the sea. One is the least before none. Beyond One we each have the responsibility of asking ourselves “why?” I believe we will answer that question with a better understanding of our needs, not more equipment.
What if our equipment responded to it’s environment, to its rider? Knowing, reacting, evolving. This should be your expectation. This is a future that we are fiercely pursuing. We’re working with technologies that will allow us to create dynamic materials, smarter more comprehensive gear that give deeper insights into your performance goals. All designed to reveal the One, to remove all that obscures the essential. MADE believes that simplicity can be experienced in the space between the sole of your foot and the roughened and wet surface of the board. Felt, not imagined.
I’m left asking why has such complexity and over abundance emerged? What has driven the ever-growing quiver? It is a laziness and a lack of discipline from deep within the industry, a complacency coming directly from equipment manufacturers. Complacency stemming from a myopic pursuit of a narrowly defined band of performance with an emphasis on optimal conditions – not of the endless variety of environments in which you and I sail, surf, and paddle. The failure of this approach to date can be measured through a decline in participation, rising costs, and local shop owners that struggle to match riders with gear. A failure measured also through the significant impact on your wallet and the slow methodical extinction of the local shop. The incredibly seductive nature of our sports has been used to manipulate each and every one of us into believing we need more, we will get better at our sport if we have more.
Let’s return to simplicity by questioning what we need. Take a moment to think about what you need as a sailor, as a paddler, and as a surfer. MADE will deliver exactly what you need, before you need it, surprising you along the way. We promise to help you progress. We promise to reduce the noise, the unnecessary, the waste. We’ll need your voice, your commitment to this idea along the way. Together we will create a sustainable industry, a more fulfilling experience, and a new vision for the future of our sports.
An Additive Future
Close your eyes for a moment and think about the first time you heard the terms e-mail, internet, instant message, text, Skype. All of these now-common technologies used to be abstract concepts, difficult to describe, and seemingly ignorable in the stream of the every day. Perhaps you were in high school, or college when e-mail emerged. My first address was .edu and used primarily for checking assignments sent to me by technologically fluent professors. I had heard of e-mail and the web while still in high school but never had any meaningful interaction with it. As a college student I was actually intrigued, confused at times, by e-mail, that most mundane of communication channels. The digital equivalent to e-mail, is, well, e-mail. And yet it is essential, constantly improved, largely taken for granted, yet one of the most significant advances in modern communication.
Once you had a hold on your e-mail, it was easier to explain what the internet represented, how it was a place for information to be accessed, that instant messaging was like email conversations in real-time, and that texting is like instant messaging on a phone. The power of a good metaphor is essential in understanding new and emergent technology.
MADE is built upon a new and paradigm-shifting technology called additive manufacturing. You may have heard of 3D printing – this is a form of additive manufacturing that uses smaller machinery and used for small-scale, one-off rapid prototyping. It’s commonly used by hobbyists, makers, and the fascinated. 3D printers are finding their way into elementary school classrooms like the Mac IIe’s of my childhood. Thus, Additive manufacturing is laying the foundation for a democratization of manufacturing in the same way that Apple spearheaded the democratization of creativity. You no longer had to have the tools of a graphic design studio or a photo processing shop, you have a graphical user interface and PhotoShop. The tens of thousands of dollars of investment to wade in the waters of commercial-powered creative tools were collapsed into an affordable desktop computer that many families grew up with and many of us as school children had access to during primary education.
That generation went on to create the internet you use everyday. Creating the apps, the sites, the programs, the pages, the videos, the memes, the social networking platforms and the digital infrastructure on which our society continues to grow. And this was all possible because of access, because people like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates saw that the true benefit was putting the power of these machines into our hands. That vision has created a future so different, so unrecognizable than the future that traditional computing, manufacturing, and education would have ever allowed. The established institutions of technology, education, and manufacturing never disrupt, they have no motivation to do so. Disruption and innovation are not to be confused – there are countless innovations that come from instituions of all sizes – but not truly disruptive processes. That is the territory of bleary-eyed visionaries and dusty garages.
Additive manufacturing can be traced back to the 1890′s with patents filed for the layered mold process for the creation topographical relief maps. (PDF Link). The 1980′s witnessed the rise of additive manufacturing as a growing industry and demonstrated its power in rapid prototyping. One of the most significant benefits of the additive approach is that it requires no tooling to create a mold.
To quote Carl Sagan:
“If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe.”
The same holds true for manufacturing. If you wish to create a new object and produce it through subtractive (traditional) manufacturing, then first you must create the tools to create the machines to create the object. Some of these tools can be incredibly complex and expensive, exponentially increasing the cost of introducing a new product or idea.
Thus, the power of additive manufacturing is held within the additive nature of depositing layer upon layer of material to create end-use products or prototypes. The tool is the engineer, the creative, and the computer. 3D modeling software allows for the creation of objects that can then be transferred directly onto an additive manufacturing machine. If you can imagine it (and it obeys the laws of physics) then you can print it. This and this alone will have a greater impact on what our future looks like than any other and every other technology to which we currently we have access. It’s no longer the consumer packaged goods giants that are the gatekeepers of product design, no longer the tech hardware giants that shape our computers and phones, no longer the labels that design our clothing. It is you. It is me. It is all of us, guided by one another’s expertise, facilitated by ever-faster computers and imagined in increasingly intuitive and accessible software environments. Creation has been democratized.
This is a future we hope to create with you. This is the future MADE is built upon and we believe it is a healthier, less-wasteful, human-driven approach to fulfilling our everyday needs. MADE will use this technology to apply the nuances and complexities of terabytes of your performance tracking data into the best windsurfing, stand-up paddle and surf boards ever made. We’ll help you understand your needs so you can experience the joy of your sport more than you ever thought possible. We have our eyes set far beyond the horizon, always wondering what lies ahead.
I’ve always found it to be curious and interesting how the physics of our universe create patterns, both big and small. Circular motion seems to be an ever-present and dominating force. Orbits are a perfect metaphor. Small bodies orbit large bodies, moons orbit planets, planets orbit stars, stars caught in the spiral tendrils of our galaxy, as well all race towards an unknown horizon. Motion, evolution, revolution. Today presented a revolution.
A very long time ago I wrote a short story called Cyborg Me. Cyborg me is a story that describes the possibilities of a connected and wired future. Cyborg me is a story that David Silver, my professor of Cyber Culture at the University of Maryland submitted to be published with a group of stories on the topic of emerging technologies. Looking back on it – it feels mundane. It’s a collection of things I did last week, am doing now, wouldn’t think twice about, let alone profess to be part of some techno-future.
A not so long time ago I tweeted the following to Google:
#ifihadglass I’d go to the places I’ve never seen, experience the things I’ve never done, and share it with those I haven’t yet met.
Today I received an invitation to participate in the Google Glass Explorers program. I’m curious. About everything. If it has a lid, I open it. If there’s a screw, I find it, I open it. If it can’t be opened, I open it. If it says do not open, I don’t open it. I’m curious, not reckless. The invitation from Google is at the cross roads of technology and physical entity, and it’s the future I always wanted, it’s the future I wrote about 11 years ago. I’m excited. Let me rephrase that – I’m really, really excited. I’m a kid excited.
This excitement goes deeper than the idea that I’ve been selected by Google to play with their new heads up display wearable computer, and it goes deeper than the excitement of being at the front of the line for the new tech toy. It’s an excitement of opportunity. An opportunity to have access to a revolutionary technology that MADE can use to transform Windsurfing, Stand Up Paddling, and Surfing in ways never before imagined. An opportunity to work first-hand with one of the most resourceful and powerful forces in technology and create something with far-reaching application. MADE is by nature, curious and we are very excited to see the world through glass.