Hands On

Ponoko

A LONG-TAIL, PRO-AM, DIGITAL MAKER THING.

By Bruce Sterling

PONOKO, WHICH IS PRONOUNCED po-NO-ko with a New Zealand accent, is a Web 2.0 startup that makes physical objects. Ponoko’s plans are deep and limpid and philosophical, but they break so many 20th-century paradigms that they’re hard to parse. For instance, so far, Ponoko makes mostly plastic jewelry and furniture. But Ponoko’s not an industrial factory or an artist’s atelier.

It’s a “platform,” which means that Ponoko’s a “place” (the ponoko.com website), a “tool” (a bunch of laser cutters), a “marketplace” (to buy and sell objects, or to buy and sell files for the objects), and an “online community” (to get all chummy with customers and/or attempt to befriend designers). ...

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