Joystiq noticed it. Engadget noticed it. Megabyte and I both posted on it (unbeknownst to each other in this past 3-day blackout period when we couldn't get blogger to post.) So what's the big deal with Legos? Why has this so captured peoples attention and interest?
I mean... it's no "PodShanking."
Joking aside - What do Lego toy bricks (Legos) have going for them as a part of easy home manufacturing? Quite a lot.
Legos are light but sturdy. Ever step on one in bare feet? They're repairable. Replaceable. Almost universally interchangeable. There is enormous range in shape and color. They're dead cheap and there are billions of them out there. You can easily get them second hand because the're virtually indestructable. Lego creations can even be made more permanent with glues or plastic-fusing acetones that you have around the house.
To say nothing of the fact that you can totally use that Lego antenna brick to be a bitchin' laser cannon!
The Lego love fest continues: You don't need any tools. Existing integration with Lego Mindstorms even permits electronic devices of some complexity without former experience. Did you know that there are free Lego 3D modeling softwares? You could design any unique object and the software will output the bricks needed to build it - the specific bricks can then be ordered online via part number.
Finally, There's a great, huge existing community of smart, fun, cool people already doing stuff like this.
So what's this simple home manufacturing kick about? It's a intermediary step we can take in dropping out - in this case, from the technological commodity culture. Crippled MP3 players, scheduled obselecence, anti-competitive proprietary horseshit and intentional platform incompatibilities are just a few of the things we can eliminate with a little elbow grease and some kind of home manufacturing solution. Legofacturing is great for mocking up a project in the prototype stage for later manufacture, as part of an iterative design process where stuff is still changing bit by bit - or just to build a single unit for personal use.
We all know how these devices should work - and we can definately figure out how to make them. Then we'll distribute the plans online with tutorials. We'll can make improvements on each version and run it like Sourceforge. We'll create a much cheaper MP3 player with 100 times the good will that we extend to the darling iPod. Why? Because we made it ourselves, and it'll be fucking perfect. It's how to bring the open-source process into the physical world.
Eventually we'll all have 3D printers and replicators in the home, but for now we have Legos. No one's going to ever fucking sell one of these so if you really want it - you should probably just make it.
Here's how to get started on the "fabrickation!"
Order some assorted bricks to start tinkering. Or to buy small quantities of specific bricks. Get custom Lego kits. Meet up with Lego User Groups. Definately download Lego modeling softwares LDraw or LegoCad. And get to work.