We’re in a new age of invention. The tools and materials for making and distributing products and systems are more affordable and easy to use than ever before. Web-connected computation will be in just about everything we use and every system that we live in: clothing, housewares, supermarkets, farms, cars and buses, homes and apartments, institutional buildings, water systems, HVAC systems, and medical devices because the cost of adding computation to these things has nearly dropped to the floor. You’ve heard the term “big data”? We haven’t even scratched the surface.
Which artists and inventors will design this new ecosystem of computation? If you google the phrase “Art and Invention” you’ll get back headshots of lone inventors like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs and Thomas Edison and Benjamin Franklin. We all have these images in our heads when we think of inventors.
But what if every child, every teen, every person no matter where they came from were seen and heard as a community of innovators and inventors? Would moms in Flint find better ways to track the drinking water coming into their homes? Would family farmers find better ways to manage their crops? Would public transit commuters reimagine the bus system so that it worked better for their needs? In some instances, these new inventors are already collaborating and making the world better. The question is, how do we scale that agency?