Some free-floating bionics led me down a path that led from the computational framework of DNA to the cultural and social DNA of Thingiverse
In a cell, nanoscopic repraps spin amino acids into proteins with instructions from the DNA. Some of these proteins actually act as instructions for the DNA, creating a feedback network that acts as the cell’s computer system. In this way, a cell selects which things it will make, how much of it, and under what circumstances to do so.
The real joy of Thingiverse is that we get to do all this with direct, explicit intent at every step of the way. We as users are calling the shots. The hardware is different but the goals are the same: make useful things, make as many as we need, and make them better. And instead of having to wait for a generation as one design gradually elbows out another, we can consciously look the designs over, evaluate their faults and virtues, and move to a better design in a single step.
And just as the feedback system in your cells is infinitely more subtle and complex than a mere procedural one-step-at-a-time computer program, the interactions in Thingiverse between designers are giving rise to vastly more and more interesting kinds of creations than might come out of a single design house with a single set of goals, even if that set of goals was “make fun and useful things to print”.
Thingiverse is a lot like life itself, and we users are its DNA.