OK, this may not be the way to stop our consumerist culture or save the planet, but I really want a 3D printer. The printer uses droplets of plastic in layers to create all sorts of useful little things at home, most especially replacement parts – lose that rubber nubbin on your computer? download the design and Print a new one. Need a picture hanger? Download and print it! How cool is that? These things have been around for a while, but only in giant industrial sizes. Recently they’ve begun to come down into the $2,000 – $3,000 range – pretty close to home user territory. and most recently a couple of inventors are marketing one that lets you design an object on your computer and print it right away.
I can imagine how a 3D printer could make us a more consumerist culture than ever (shades of Handy Smurf’s automatic farming machine come to mind) but at least we could maybe reduce the number of big box stores cluttering our landscape. To me, this is the logical end for mail order companies.