There was a really interesting post on the Make blog the other day by Johnny Lee. He argues that the resources and equipment for the diy community have improved in quality so much so that it has somewhat leveled the playing field for hobbyists and professionals:
"Take 10,000 professional engineers vs. 1 million hobbyists with roughly equivalent tools. Which group will make progress faster? Now, consider that you have to pay the 10,000 engineers $100K/year to motivate them to work, and the 1 million hobbyists are working for the love of it. Does that change your answer? Even if it doesn’t, you have to concede that there does exist a ratio that will make the output of these two groups equal. It’s merely a matter of time."
Check out the entire post here.
Outside of the field of electronics, I immediately thought of the community biolab Genspace in Brooklyn. The fact that there is a growing community of amateur biologists concurrently tackling scientific research and teaching kids how to cut DNA in a non-academic setting is pretty mind-blowing.