Andrew Edman (aka the guy who writes this newsletter) recapping his 2018 R&D projects, looks at how we can use 21st century fabrication technologies to move from consumers to active participants within our systems of production.
Unsurprisingly, Amazon has once again hit an all-time sales high coming off the U.S. holiday season, but this time around, they did it with about 20,000 fewer workers than in previous years.
You can learn a lot about what is going on in markets of all sizes (local, national, global) by keeping an eye on what goods are worth the risk carrying out a real-world heist for. A story from Bloomberg Businessweek on the theft of over 100 tons of cobalt, a highly-valued commodity due to its use in the production of lithium-ion batteries.
Amazon's sprawling empire, all mapped out. The article details all of the miscellaneous business units and holdings of Amazon, which run the gamut from obvious to obscure: sure, there's Whole Foods and Kiva systems, but there's also wind farms, cargo planes, and IMDb. The company's physical footprint alone is around 250 million square feet.
Repair remains one of the most valuable practices when it comes to reducing both the energy and environmental impact of manufactured goods, and politicians are beginning to take action to improve the odds of fixing. In the European Union, this has taken the form of extending the reach of so-called "right to repair" laws. In this article from iFixit, they detail some of the draft language: "[EU Member States] also voted that spare parts be available for at least 7 years, with parts such as door gaskets and trays available to end-users, and thermostats and temperature sensors available only to professional repair technicians." Companies that design and manufacture products that fall into these right to repair categories face a predicament: either ship new models less frequently or deal with sprawling spare part inventories. It's quite possible that regulations like these, if passed, will spur more interest in 3D printing spares on demand, either through service bureaus, or the original manufacturer's own facilities.
Kyle Chayka analyzes consumer culture and Airbnb-oriented home renovations in the U.S. via reviewing some recent Netflix TV shows, including Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. Whether it's Marie Kondo's interventions or creating adequately but appropriately quirky Airbnb rentals, what's really on display here is how domestic spaces cease to exist just for our own living. Instead, possessions and environments morph into pseudo-advertisements for a focus-grouped version of own lives, directed at our friends, neighbors, and the world at large.