The Stack

Redistributed manufacturing calls for systemic change: from natural resources, through physical infrastructure, to digital technology and the people who use it.

We use the metaphor of the stack1 to describe the layers of the system and how they relate.

We’ve organised our projects by highlighting the layer of the stack on which they operate. This is a simplification. Because systemic change cannot happen at just one layer, most ambitious redistributive projects try to operate on several layers of the stack at once.


Ecosystem

Resources: Trees, water, waste etc.

Very few projects operate at this level, as humans rarely directly control planetary resources. We usually interact with them through physical tools. One exception might be the resource we call ‘waste’.


Physical

Artefacts: Human-made or processed materials, tools, products, manufacturing techniques.
Facilities: Factories, shops, warehouses, etc.
Infrastructure: Road and rail, shipping container/pallet systems, optical fibre, ports, etc.


Digital

Artefacts: Design files, instructions, documentation, etc.
Applications:Online collaboration platforms, Supply Chain recording, design tools, etc.
Infrastructure: Blockchain, HTML, TCP/IP, etc.


People

Workers, customers, and their behaviour, agendas; government policy; companies and their business models

The stack help us see where work needs to be done – where the gaps are – and how different projects relate to each other. A project that focuses on digital applications, for example,  is often a good complement to one that focuses on physical artefacts.

The division between layers is somewhat arbitrary; this is how we’ve chosen to divide it, starting at the most fundamental, geological layer, and moving up towards more malleable layers, that can be changed over shorter periods of time.

Other projects

In addition to the main projects collected, we also have some links which only exist as stubs right now – i.e. incomplete entries with little extra data:

  1. As coined by Benjamin Bratton: http://thestack.org