The Geography of Drones and 3D Printers

One of the most valuable comments I’ve received about EconTalk’s “Salty Snacks” podcast was from a recent Business Administration major. “I learned more about the business and economic choices faced by companies in this one podcast than I have learned in two semesters of business classes.” While that is a nice side-benefit of being exposed to the podcast, my intent was not to fill in the gaps in her business administration classes. No, my real goal was simply to help us be more observant about subtle influences in our environment, where and why products are placed, where and why plants and facilities are located in certain locations. Many companies, Wal-mart, Target, Bob Evans, Applebee’s, Dunkin’ Donuts, and Little Caesar’s, to name a small small, use “location analytics” to help deliver services to customers. Location analytics is simply a $10 word to say, “We use geography.”

Another good podcast from EconTalk has Russ Roberts interviewing Chris Anderson. Chris Anderson was once a senior editor at Wired magazine. Chris left Wired about 2 years ago and formed his own start-up in southern California, outside San Diego. His new company makes commercial UASes. “UAS” stands for “unmanned aerial systems,” which really means “drones.”

Drones have a tremendous amount of stigma attached because most of the general public know them only because the media has fixated on one peculiar purpose, that of launching missiles that kill people. Drones have thousands of uses which don’t involved blowing people to smithereens. Those are the uses Chris Anderson is building UASes for.

The podcast is less about drones and more about the Technology Economy of the United States, the need for an educated population, the need to encourage innovation, the need to motivate smart people to surround themselves with other intelligent, thoughtful, smart people and engage in research and development.

If you got something out of the “Salty Snacks” podcast, the load “Makers” on your smartphone and listen to it while driving or during exercise.

(EconTalk podcast: “Makers and Manufacturing”)

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