yarn-weaving-sweater (by dmuren)

What is the difference between a sweater and a pile of yarn? Nothing is added to the yarn to make a sweater; the yarn weighs the same before knitting as after. Yet the sweater is obviously different than the pile. The energy of knitting might seem to be the difference, but we could make make just as many random knits in the yarn -- expending the same energy -- and end up with a knotty pile of yarn. A knotty pile is definitely different than a regular pile, but it's also significantly different than a sweater. So, if it's not added matter, and it's not added energy, what's left? Answer: Information.


Localism is precious. American Apparel's "locally made" t-shirts command a premium and are worn by hipsters the world over. "Locavore" has joined the ranks along with "vegan" and "vegetarian", and even has the approval of Oxford's. Local production has huge benefits, from reducing energy required in transport, to allowing consumers to form connections with their producers, to limiting negative environmental and social impact of manufacture. But even with so many potential benefits, the majority of materials and processes we use to make items simply do not lend themselves to local-scale manufacture.


Pick up something off of your desk. That something was manufactured -- made -- using a process or series of processes. Maybe it was carved out of wood, cast in metal, or fired in ceramic. More likely it was molded in plastic or assembled by a robot in a pick-and-place electronics assembly line. Manufacturing and manufactured objects define our cultures and resource usage strategies, and influence the constitution of our societies. Changing the fundamental assumptions about how we should make objects could change the face of our society, and the problems it faces.