Five years ago, Marc Andressen took to the pages of the Wall Street Journal to describe how software was “eating the world”: “More and more major businesses and industries are being run on software and delivered as online services—from movies to agriculture to national defense. Many of the winners are Silicon Valley-style entrepreneurial technology companies that are invading and overturning established industry structures. Over the next 10 years, I expect many more industries to be disrupted by software, with new world-beating Silicon Valley companies doing the disruption in more cases than not.
The most recent episode of Mad Dogs & Englishmen1 starts off with a discussion of buying and assembling and AR-15 from scratch. It’s an interesting process, but the conversation took an even more interesting turn as they focused on the decline of a tinkering ethos in our society. The machines and devices we use are often too complex to repair, disassemble, or customize. If you open the hood of your car, you won’t be able to see or even access many of the most critical parts - you’ll most likely see a series of injection-molded plastic meant to not only protect but to discourage amateur tinkering.