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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.

Read more news and ideas on Innovations:

Scientists surprised by $500K+ award

Are we building a techno dystopia?

Landsat turns 40

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