This may be the neatest TED presentation I have ever seen. This guy throws out so much information so fast I have a hard time absorbing and understanding it all. His brain is running much faster than mine, but even the small bit I can get is really cool. The general gist of the talk is that what personal computers did for information (basically allowing anyone, anywhere, any time to consume and/or create it in exactly the way they want), personal fabrication can do for real world objects. He gives numerous examples of how this works, some of which are highly amusing. He also goes into the social and political difficulties of getting this technology out. The presentation is 17 minutes long but it felt like three or four to me, due to the density of content.
The talk ends with a sort of blue-sky assertion that if we put this technology in the hands of everyone, some really amazing things will emerge. I'm not sure how I feel about that. I certainly want it to be true. But we've heard such utopian predictions before. Weren't radio, then TV, then the Internet all going to lead to all sorts of amazing things? Now radio and TV are a wasteland of corporate advertising. And the Internet is, well, what Avenue Q said.
In the end, I don't think I care whether the hype is true or not. All I know is I have a lot of ideas for things that I would personally love create, but can't because of the high cost of machine work. (SRSLY: $16.50 for a half-inch dia gear, you gouging fuckers??) So if I could get a $20k grant to buy cool machinery like mini CNC mills and run a personal fabrication shop, you bet I'd do it in a heartbeat.