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Shaping Things (Mediaworks Pamphlets)

by Bruce Sterling

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3961046,279 (3.71)3
A guide to the next great wave of technology -- an era of objects so programmable that they can be regarded as material instantiations of an immaterial system. " Shaping Things is about created objects and the environment, which is to say, it's about everything," writes Bruce Sterling in this addition to the Mediawork Pamphlet series. He adds: "Seen from sufficient distance, this is a small topic." Sterling offers a brilliant, often hilarious history of shaped things. We have moved from an age of artifacts, made by hand, through complex machines, to the current era of "gizmos." New forms of design and manufacture are appearing that lack historical precedent, he writes; but the production methods, using archaic forms of energy and materials that are finite and toxic, are not sustainable. The future will see a new kind of object; we have the primitive forms of them now in our pockets and briefcases: user-alterable, baroquely multi-featured, and programmable, that will be sustainable, enhanceable, and uniquely identifiable. Sterling coins the term "spime" for them, these future-manufactured objects with informational support so extensive and rich that they are regarded as material instantiations of an immaterial system. Spimes are designed on screens, fabricated by digital means, and precisely tracked through space and time. They are made of substances that can be folded back into the production stream of future spimes, challenging all of us to become involved in their production. Spimes are coming, says Sterling. We will need these objects in order to live; we won't be able to surrender their advantages without awful consequences. The vision of Shaping Things is given material form by the intricate design of Lorraine Wild. Shaping Things is for designers and thinkers, engineers and scientists, entrepreneurs and financiers; and anyone who wants to understand and be part of the process of technosocial transformation.… (more)

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English (9)  French (1)  All languages (10)
Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
Bring on the spimes! Recommended for people who design things, or care about how those things may work together and with people to support a sustainable society in the future. ( )
  stonecrops | May 18, 2016 |
Manifesto for now. Hugely important book, very short and readable. If you're a designer, you need to read this to understand any modern or otherwise material context you might seek to explore. ( )
  readywater | Feb 14, 2013 |
Sterling sketches a historical perspective on our lives with artifacts, from craft society and industrialism to consumerism and beyond. More specifically, the beyond that is envisioned is a world in which the material and the virtual blend together in manufactured objects that Sterling calls "spimes." Primitive spime precursors are RFID-enhanced objects, where the key element is that each entity has a unique identity. Sterling discusses the designer’s role as well as the economy and sustainablility of a possible technosocial future of ubiquitous spimes. The ideas are generally bold, inspirational and give me the sense of capturing something vital in design even though they are painted with a broad brush. My main disappointment is the graphic design, which is unusually self-conscious and apparently aims to highlight the ideas but in my opinion rather works to distract me from the author’s voice.
  jonas.lowgren | Aug 10, 2011 |
Was disappointed by the book. Either I did not get it - I guess all opinions are timely and I might find myself to love the book if I read it again in a couple of year - or it is made of too many non-proven/documented/backed-up assertions. Too many neologisms also, which would just demonstrate that Bruce Sterling needs to create his own alternative reality separate from this world and this is for me bad futurology.
The "spime" theory were all objects are communication hubs and the "biot" society based on biotechnologic/sustainable objects are both relevant but still too obvious given todays technological trends to make this book groundbreaking. ( )
  phildec | Sep 10, 2009 |
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A guide to the next great wave of technology -- an era of objects so programmable that they can be regarded as material instantiations of an immaterial system. " Shaping Things is about created objects and the environment, which is to say, it's about everything," writes Bruce Sterling in this addition to the Mediawork Pamphlet series. He adds: "Seen from sufficient distance, this is a small topic." Sterling offers a brilliant, often hilarious history of shaped things. We have moved from an age of artifacts, made by hand, through complex machines, to the current era of "gizmos." New forms of design and manufacture are appearing that lack historical precedent, he writes; but the production methods, using archaic forms of energy and materials that are finite and toxic, are not sustainable. The future will see a new kind of object; we have the primitive forms of them now in our pockets and briefcases: user-alterable, baroquely multi-featured, and programmable, that will be sustainable, enhanceable, and uniquely identifiable. Sterling coins the term "spime" for them, these future-manufactured objects with informational support so extensive and rich that they are regarded as material instantiations of an immaterial system. Spimes are designed on screens, fabricated by digital means, and precisely tracked through space and time. They are made of substances that can be folded back into the production stream of future spimes, challenging all of us to become involved in their production. Spimes are coming, says Sterling. We will need these objects in order to live; we won't be able to surrender their advantages without awful consequences. The vision of Shaping Things is given material form by the intricate design of Lorraine Wild. Shaping Things is for designers and thinkers, engineers and scientists, entrepreneurs and financiers; and anyone who wants to understand and be part of the process of technosocial transformation.

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