Blast Off! Creating Rockets Through the Crowd

How do you drive innovation today? One extraordinarily powerful way, as readers of these blogs of mine are finding, is through the power of the crowd.

Crowdsourced cars. (Thanks to Local Motors.) Crowdsourced small airplanes. (Thanks to DIY Drones.) Even crowdsourced rockets. And we can thank DIYRockets for that.

Think about it: this kind of sophisticated technology is doable through crowdsourcing right now.

Crowdsourcing is not just a one-off, as the X Prize Foundation has found. It's increasingly driving innovation. In fact, at the recent South by Southwest Conference in Austin, Texas, DIYRockets launched a competition to come up with a 3D-printed rocket engine that could become part of a propulsion system and vehicle to carry nano-satellites into space.

As DIYRockets says on its site, this contest is the first in what it hopes "will be a series of competitions to design technology parts and systems (propulsion systems, launch vehicles) to achieve our goal of sending payloads to space."

This is remarkable, and it flows directly from many of the leading technologies that are springing up, including Ponoko, with its methods of local custom manufacturing, and Chris Anderson's DIY Drones. Through my conversations with Jay Rogers, the CEO and co-founder of Local Motors, which enables the crowdsourcing of a car, I've learned how a crowd can tackle the creation of a complex machine, all thanks to a global network of gifted amateurs and moonlighting professionals who contribute their expertise and imagination to new technology.

"You will see the most amazing vehicular products that are going to come out of our community," Rogers told me. "And you're going to see the people who are recognized for creating those. The ecosystem will have been upended for that."

My company, the X Prize Foundation, was behind the successful creation of a reusable manned spacecraft that could be launched into space twice within two weeks, thanks to competition and crowdsourcing. Now DIYRockets is employing crowdsourcing for scientific advancement.

It's here, this whole new world of DIY communities and crowdsourcing, where you can partner with the experts to make your dreams come true and make the companies, the products and the services that will change the world that you desire to make your legacy happen now. One of my favorite personal mottos is, "The best way to predict the future is to create it yourself." Think about this: The future is what we create it to be.

In this series of blogs, and in my forthcoming book BOLD, I'm exploring how people are increasingly empowered by new tools and techniques that technology has enabled, such as crowdsourcing and crowd funding. I've been discovering that ultimately, everyone will be able to create the future he or she desires and commits to.

We are already, thanks to Local Motors, at ease with the thought of a crowdsourced car. As Jay Rogers said to me, "If you think you can build a complex cyber mechanical system, you can probably do it better with a large group of people with whom you plant a flag, give a vision, organize, respect, engage... and then together, you'll chase your dreams."

NOTE: Over the next year, I'm embarking on a BOLD mission -- to speak to top CEOs and entrepreneurs to find out their secrets to success. My last book Abundance, which hit No. 1 on Amazon, No. 2 on the New York Times and was at the top of Bill Gates' personal reading list, shows us the technologies that empower us to create a world of Abundance over the next 20 to 30 years. BOLD, my next book, will provide you with tools you can use to make your dreams come true and help you solve the world's grand challenges to create a world of Abundance. I'm going to write this book and share it with you every week through a series of blog posts. Each step of the way, I'll ask for your input and feedback. Top contributors will be credited within the book as a special "thank you," and all contributors will be recognized on the forthcoming BOLD book website. To ensure you never miss a message, sign up for my newsletter here.

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