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The Customization Of You — And Everything Else


While reading this story on the customization of everything, YOU would discover that it's even possible these days to make yourself the subject of an NPR news story on customization.

In other words, you are reading the story that you are co-writing – about yourself.

At five syllables , customization is a little long to be a buzzword. But the idea is driving marketing initiatives in myriad ways. Recently Residence Inn by Marriott announced it is exploring the customization of rooms: Guests might choose the colors of the walls before they arrive, for instance. Mind Cures advertises design-it-yourself meditation sessions. As NPR reports, folks can now design their own athletic shoes, trench coats, M&Ms and more.

YOU can design customized for Jones Soda, to personal taste and a Barbie doll like no other.

Three-dimensional printers may take customization to a whole new level. Theoretically, YOU will be able to imagine and create personally designed furniture, art, clothing, even pizza, using 3-D wizardry.

Anthony Flynn, owner of and author of Custom Nation: Why Customization Is the Future of Business and How to Profit From It, says that as the design tools that consumers use to customize products get better and 3-D printer technology gets cheaper, "custom made-to-order production promises to become the norm for dozens of industries." He points to car manufacturers such as BMW, and fashion firms such as and that let customers get in on the ideas.

And now, thanks to advanced Protojournalism, YOU can be the subject of a news story that YOU can read.

" YOU will be the centerpiece of this story," says NPR Digital News reporter Linton Weeks, quoting himself. "Fact is: I couldn't have done it without YOU."

But YOU and others might ask, where will all of this end? "The limitations of customization will arise organically," Flynn says. "Companies will control what consumers can customize in order to streamline their businesses, ensure the quality of their core products and shield buyers from having unwanted choices. So, for example, auto manufacturers will limit custom options to things like the style of hubcaps and the color and material of the seats — and not elements like engine design or windshield size."

The ultimate limits of customization for YOU and everyone else will be determined by a conversation between manufacturers and consumers, Flynn says, "regarding what elements of customization are both desirable and feasible."

So how could we have told this story better?

YOU contributed to this NPR report. Alyson Hurt did the design work.

The Protojournalist: Experimental storytelling for the LURVers – Listeners, Users, Readers, Viewers — of NPR. @NPRtpj

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Linton Weeks joined NPR in the summer of 2008, as its national correspondent for Digital News. He immediately hit the campaign trail, covering the Democratic and Republican National Conventions; fact-checking the debates; and exploring the candidates, the issues and the electorate.