2021-10-18 5 min read


Notes, 2021-10-18.

When a country develops a strong manufacturing industry, its overall power and prosperity rises in lockstep. From the birth of the industrial revolution in England to China’s rise from an agricultural economy to the factory of the world, investing in manufacturing transforms national economies.

Mass production offers efficiencies that transform a given input of labor into a greater output of stuff - an undeniable driver of growth. However, the real catalyst is the complex knowledge and skills the industry creates. Researchers at Harvard’s Growth Lab have found that manufacturing knowledge is directly related to economic complexity, meaning that when countries produce increasingly complex products, workers produce more varied forms of knowledge which are in turn accumulated, transferred and preserved within the local economy. Even a relatively simple product, like a shirt, requires skilled workers who can handle procurement, production, marketing, distribution, and financing. The factory also requires roads, ports, airports, and stable power and water infrastructure to get those shirts out the door.

Developing this necessary combination of diverse knowledge and stable infrastructure opens space for adjacent economic activities, which is why countries see accelerated economic growth when manufacturing succeeds. It becomes easier to provision a film crew, or open an accounting firm with these pieces in place. So, whether you’re building out film sets, or fiddling with a subassembly, remember that sometimes the less we know individually, the more successful we are together.

-Hillary Predko

The most clicked link from last week's issue (~10% of opens) was a guide to understanding the Sanborn Map Company's historic fire insurance maps. On the Members' Slack last week, there was a real popular thread (h/t Skyler!) of photos of everyone's go-to engineering desk tools, from TEC Sharpies to deadblow hammers to SD cards preloaded with Raspbian; it really was quite fun. Also last week we also sent out The Prepared's 2021-Q3 report (highlights here) to Members and sponsors; thanks to *you* for helping us cross 12,000 subscribers!

Planning & Strategy.

Making & Manufacturing.

Maintenance, Repair & Operations.

Distribution & Logistics.

Inspection, Testing & Analysis.


Inside the galaxy conference room at Epic's bizarre Wisconsin campus.

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