I half-expected Wired magazine to be humiliated out of existence back in 2000 after the dot-com bubble burst; what clips of dancing hippies set to "Purple Haze" are to the 1960s, a progression of Wired covers is to the 90s. It was the unofficial bible of whiz-bang Capitalism 2.0 with its zooming electrons and democratized stock market that was going to make us all rich by increasing indefinitely. Yes, those were the heady days – fresh off the defeat of communism by a coalition of free markets, Ronald Reagan, and C+C Music Factory – in which Technology fused with a new, messianic loathing for regulation to create a system fresh out of Milton Friedman's wet dreams. No one really understood it, but all we needed to know is that it made everyone in the suburbs rich, it obsoleted Second Wave notions like unions and job security, and it was not shy about letting us know who the new Masters of the Universe were. That's where Wired came in (with Fast Company a close second). But this time the plutocracy wore jeans instead of tuxedos and played frisbee in the office. Look how fucking cool they are!
You'd think that the intervening decade since the collapse of the great NASDAQ-fueled version of the middle class white guy's American Dream would have taken the edge off of Wired's institutional hubris. It didn't change the magazine one bit, it turns out. It just made them irrelevant. But it's good to know that somewhere in the background of the collapsed bubble it helped create Wired is still peddling its unique brand of tech-obsessed glibertarianism.
So now that the economy has executed a controlled flight into terrain under the direction of our neo-Gilded Age betters, to whom can we turn for guidance? Why, to the same people, of course! If you've ever seen Wired or were awake at any point between 1990 and 1999 you'll know that the answer to our current malaise lies in our ability to harness the limitless American entrepreneurial spirit. Harness the shit out of it.
In keeping with the anti-Second Wave mantra of the faith, Wired is eager to remind us not to turn to government or any kind of collective answers to these problems. We'll be saved individually and collectively when we harness our inner Carnegie. Yes, in the New Industrial Revolution, Atoms are Bits, the factory is your PC, and you are the CEO of You, Inc.
In the age of democratized industry, every garage is a potential micro-factory, every citizen a potential micro-entrepreneur. Here’s how to transform a great idea into a great product.
The key to becoming financially independent is – stay with me here – inventing an awesome product and then taking advantage of all the eCommerce doo-dads that allow you to make it a reality! It's just that easy.
1) INVENT Stop whining about the dearth of cool products in the world — dream up your own. Pro tip: Check the US Patent and Trademark Office Web site to ensure no one else had the idea first.
So, to review: the first step in this process is to think of a brilliant invention. On only two occasions in my life have I heard worse advice. One involved a recommendation to invest heavily in Franklin Mint products. The other involved urging me to talk to a girl at a bar who had open, obvious herpes sores all over her mouth. But the Wired-sponsored new Industrial Revolution will work as long as all of us, or at least most of us, think of a brilliant invention that lots of people will want to buy. The wealth will trickle down, though. I mean, after Henry Ford started a motor company with a great idea he made a lot of employees financially successful too.
4) MANUFACTURE The garage is fine for limited production, but if you want to go big, go global — outsource. Factories in China are standing by; sites like Alibaba.com can help you find the right partner.
Well, I guess everyone needs to start at step one. I have the feeling that we're going to make it through this recession just fine…as long as there are 50-some million brilliant ideas out there so unemployed, underemployed, and financially drowning people can grab one like a lifeline, email it to China, and sit back waiting for money to fall from the sky.