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Posted at 08:48 AM ET, 07/26/2012

MakerBot’s mixtape, Minecraft’s creative mode and the end of scarcity (video)


Sony Corp. employee lRumi Yamaguchi looks at Sony Walkmans including the first Walkman, top shelf, second from left, at a special display that opened in July 2009, commemorating the handy music player's 30th anniversary at Sony Archive building in Tokyo, Japan. (Shuji Kajiyama - AP)

The subject of next-generation manufacturing has been addressed here before, but 3-D printing continues to grow in popularity. And a new video from PBS Idea Channel explores whether a new, more localized form of manufacturing could stand to eventually eliminate the concept of scarcity.

In addition to 3-D printing, PBS explores Minecraft, a pixelated game featuring a world reminiscent of Lego and the Sims, except where your character can be eaten by monsters. The game was created by Markus Persson and gives players an opportunity to discover a world while harvesting resources and creating new objects.

Mincraft has two gameplay modes: creative mode, where materials are unlimited and can be created out of thin air, and ad­ven­ture mode, where resources are limited and must be continually harvested. Creative mode is an ideal universe, where you can build everything from a modest house to a scale model of Earth. The idea of an economy where everything and anything is possible for everyone defies, at least for now, the laws of physics. And, in terms of a gaming experience, for those interested in a challenge, it can be a total bore. But, as PBS outlines, if 3-D printing goes completely mainstream, could we create a world where everyone can produce anything they want when they want it in the comfort of their own home? Enter 3-D printer-maker MakerBot, which announced yesterday a campaign to bring back the mixtape.

Yes, the mixtape.

It may not be top on your list of things to create in the yet-to-be-realized scarcity-free economy. But Rome was not built in a day, and an unlimited-resources utopia won’t be either.

So, back to the mixtape.

MakerBot is taking new-school technology and bringing it back to an old-school approach, giving their product’s users (and even those without their own 3-D printer) the tools to create/have a cassette-like house for a 2GB storage device for mp3 files you can drag and drop to the device as you would to any other mp3 player. The pre-printed cassette retails for $39, while the instruction packet for MakerBot printer owners (it also comes with the battery, 2GB storage unit and USB cable) retails for $25.

MakerBot Industries created a video that shows off the mixtape’s old-school magic with its new-school, 3-D printer twist:

So, it may be worth thinking twice before you throw away all of your old cassette cases.

But, what you do with your cassette cases aside, the 3-D printed mixtape’s price tag is much higher than the pack-of-10 cassettes at Wal-Mart — a sign that we’re much further from the post-scarcity economy than we think, assuming such an economy were even possible.

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By  |  08:48 AM ET, 07/26/2012

Categories:  Dominic Basulto, Technology, Video, #Quirky

 
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