Fred Wilson writes about the word’s many meanings:
The first meaning, coined by Alvin Toffler in his prophetic book, The Third Wave, is the merger between the notions of producer and consumer. Toffler envisioned the world we now live in where the consumer is participating in the production of customized products and services.
But there is a second meaning, that of products targeted between the low end consumer market and the high end professional market. You hear it most often used in products in the audio, photography, and video markets.
And then there is the more activist meaning, which simply takes Toffler’s meaning and extends it into a world where mass produced goods are bad and “do it yourself” is the mantra. We certainly have made a number of investments at Union Square Ventures which are based loosely on this theme, certainly Etsy and Bug Labs, but also to some extent delicious, FeedBurner, and Oddcast, play on the theme of consumers creating their own products and services.