8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 24 July 2006
I came to this book by accident. I heard a radio programme about personal fabrication and included was a review of Neil Gershenfeld's book.I was prompted to find out more.
The book describes a mixture of zany and socially desirable case study applications of personal fabrication,the technology behind it,a discussion of the wider implications and a (too)short commentary on the dangers and ethical issues surounding self reproducing machines.
The book centres on what I would suspect will be one of the key issues of the 21st century - the development of personally customised objects as opposed to the one size fits all mass produced object. I quickly warmed to Neil Gershenfeld's enthusiasm for his subject. I was also particularly impressed by his idealism about the application of this development in helping to solve problems that are left unaddressed by the profit motive.(His illustration of how components picked up in a second hand Indian electronics market can be recycled to make effective machines to solve pressing third world agricultural and educational problems was particularly poignant) It does not take a genius however to see how this technology can be exploited and restricted for political and so called 'security' purposes. Unfortunately one suspects that the genorousity and idealism that has created the internet and allowed it to grow in the way it has may not be so apparent in the development of personalised fabrication.
The book is constructed in a rather quirky and funky fashion reflecting Neil Gershenfield's enthusiasms but deals with some of the most imoportant issues of our time that quite rightly touch on creativity,social interaction and the nature and purpose of engineering.It clearly outlines how applications of personal fabrication. Personal Fabrication will soon make a very real difference to all of our lives.
As a non engineer I was kept on track by the straight forward explanations and my interest was held by memorable images e-mailing a bicycle, construction as childsplay and the potential accessibility of relatively simple machines to help solve complex social problems.
This is an important and optimistic book that should be widely read though I suspect there will soon be many more books around personal fabrication reflecting the wider debate it will spark.