Speaking with Matt is like being blasted with a firehose of information. He is entwined in the worlds of politics, database engineering, and 3D printing, and he speaks in dense, reference-laden paragraphs. This is thrilling to me, since I love information. I also feel empathy for folks who have been subject to my own tendencies to speak in dense, reference-laden paragraphs, since it’s not always easy to keep up.

While infrastructure isn’t exactly a sexy topic, we’ve seen a lot of institutional failings over the last few years, so I wanted to get Matt’s take on why we see so much bureaucratic rot and ineptitude — and what we can do about it.

I also wanted to get his significantly more optimistic take on the future of small-scale manufacturing, since he is starting a new company with plans to democratize 3D printing. The costs and infrastructure required to make small runs of products in your own home are plummeting, and we will likely see a revolution in direct-to-consumer businesses because of it.

Enjoy this conversation with the always fascinating, always reference-laden Matt Parlmer.

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Show Notes:

  • [01:45] Is it “time to build”? And, why have we seen so many institutional and infrastructural failures since the 1970s?
  • [10:47] Matt’s take on the Texas power grid failure
  • [19:24] The engineering parable of the construction of the London sewers
  • [27:10] Why are we better at digital infrastructure than physical infrastructure?
  • [34:34] Lessons from the iterative development practices of technical infrastructure that can be applied to physical infrastructure
  • [41:54] Matt’s nuclear power pitch — and how the regulatory state has failed on nuclear
  • [56:53] The coming transition from “needing a warehouse full of equipment” to “at home manufacturing”
  • [01:06:45] What is changing that will cause massive cost reductions in small-scale manufacturing and electrochemical machining
  • [01:16:17] General Fabrication, 3D printing farms, and the “direct from producer” business model
  • [01:28:30] How to learn more from Matt and why you should really reach out to him about manufacturing and 3D printing

Links and Resources Mentioned: