Mateusz Pozar of Monocultured poses an interesting question: what happens when 3D printing technology advances sufficiently such that the printed objects are just as good as the original? His answer:
If the remix and DIY approach will hold true for personal fabrication (fabbing) then you’ll be forced to shift gears from “is it what it says it is?” when you relate to objects, to “is it what I want?” Trending and social constructions will still exist because we’re social critters, but they will have to take something else into account (another quality or justification, however arbitrary) and branding of objects might become less relevant.
We think this might become true, in that the intrinsic value of an object could become more closely associated with its function or beauty, rather than its heritage, particularly if the “original” object is simply the first printed instance. However, if handcrafted objects continue to be the original, perhaps they’d become even more valued than in the past.
The same problem occurs with other items that have undergone digitalization: the song’s master analog tape vs. the recorded bitstream. In the latter case, which bits are the “original”? You can’t tell, because it ultimately doesn’t matter.
And the same thing might happen to objects.