“Recent studies show consumers now spend more money tweaking and inventing stuff than consumer product firms spend on research and development. Itâ€™s more than $3.75 billion a year in Britain, and U.S. studies under way now show similiar patterns. Makers are even morphing into entrepreneurs, with some of the best projects, including Kleinmanâ€™s, raising money for commercial development of self-funding Web sites such as Kickstarter, where anyone with a credit card can chip in to back cool ideas.
Major companies such as Ford are, after years of resisting inventor gadflies, inviting makers to submit product tweaks. â€œThis is the democratization of technology,â€ said K. Venkatesh Prasad, a senior engineering executive at Ford.
â€œPolicymakers and economists always assumed that consumers just consumed and that they donâ€™t innovate,â€ said Eric von Hippel, who studies technological innovation and makers at MITâ€™s business school. â€œWhatâ€™s clearly happening now is that all of a sudden itâ€™s easier for us to make exactly what we want.â€”
The Washington Post describes the world and the impact of everyday hackers who use social networks, do-it-yourself-then-show-it-off Web sites, cheap parts from China, and blissfully simple microprocessors to modify or invent new electronic products for their houses, cars, offices and back yards.