3D printing, Second Life and unemployment: how the blending of realities rips society apart

Sometimes the seemingly random combination of blog posts makes me think. For instance, watch this introductory video about 3D-printing, which I found on the financial blog Mish’s Global Economic Trend Analysis:

In the blog post you’ll find other great links about 3D printing.

Now switch to some very important question here in this TechCrunch post by Jon Bischke: the growing divide between Silicon Valley and unemployed America. Globalization and technology are exhilarating, but many people are being left behind. Another aspect not mentioned in the article (maybe more relevant for Europe): also national politics is very often being left behind in this revolution. While political leaders still want to control things on a national or regional level, often ignoring the technological changes, they contribute to ever bigger crisis situations rather than solving them.

Yes, we can marvel about the wonderful opportunities the technological revolution is bringing us. Just imagine the possibility of collaboratively working on 3D-objects, discussing them in virtual environments (Second Life now working hard on enabling mesh-import), turning those 3D digital objects into physical prototypes via 3D printing, wherever you want on the planet, and eventually convincing partners to start production – wherever on the planet.

All of which no longer requires huge amounts of capital. It’s about imagination, creativity, isn’t it? Of course, many people lack the knowledge and skills to actually explore those opportunities, but then again, the internetz make it easier and cheaper than ever to acquire those skills…

Or maybe not so. Using the internet to learn constantly, to find out about opportunities, requires a media literacy which is not self-evident. Not only the unemployed construction worker may lack this basic skill, also the graduate who supposedly is a digital native but never really made it beyond the Facebook-is-only-for-friends level of social media practice.

So we’re living in dangerous times. Technology and globalization are ripping the old structures apart. People get angry and upset about their leaders, even about society in general. We need schools and universities to teach people how to use the possibilities of this globalized internet age – because we’re getting into the phase where we not only manipulate bits and bytes as we like, but also atoms. And we do this by collaborating on a truly global scale, far beyond the reach of local governments.

In this new phase the virtual and the physical blend. 3D printing allows us to make that transition. Virtual money such as Bitcoins and CS are another interesting development. Philip Rosedale is a very visionary guy. After founding Second Life he’s now exploring the possibilities of location-based exchange en virtual currencies in the Bay area – using his virtual world knowledge and experience in the physical neighborhoods of his city. Mixed realities indeed, as location-based social networks, augmented reality, alternate reality games are steadily developing in new dimensions of our daily environments.

We have to do more than just hoping the education system will take care of it. We’ll have to teach and learn on a grassroots-level. Virtual environments can be extremely useful in this regard, but we should not neglect stuff such as Google+, or Facebook-groups not to mention meet-ups in what was once considered ‘meatspace’ but which is now a blended reality.

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About rolandlegrand

I'm social media manager at Mediafin, the publisher of Belgium's leading business newspapers De Tijd and L'Echo. I have a special interest in the intersection of immersive media, business and philosophy.
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0 Responses to 3D printing, Second Life and unemployment: how the blending of realities rips society apart

  1. Joey Seiler says:

    Thanks for the mention, Roland! I’m glad you found it interesting.

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