Shaping Things / Edition 1

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Overview

" 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 MediaworkPamphlet 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 ofShaping Things is given material form by the intricate design of LorraineWild. 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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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
" Shaping Things is full of entirely readable large ideas, made palatable by Lorraine Wild"s clean but evocative book design. The whole project exudes a confidence-building, you-too-can-be-an-architect-of-the-future tone, much like the work ofBuckminster Fuller, who like Sterling was a practical visionary and often had to create a new language to describe his ideas.... In the end, Shaping Things asks us to consider how we can create a sustainable future, using all the information available to us as consumers,without the preachiness that accompanies the environmental and sustainable lifestyle movements."Los Angeles Times Book Review

" Shaping Things is really about shaping experiences. Sterling brilliantly makes you more aware of experiences that your customers have-or don"t have-with objects.... Shaping Things presents a robust typology of technologies to inspire marketers and provoke innovators into rethinking their market offerings" essential qualities." Michael SchrageAcross the Board Magazine

"It's the most thought provoking thing I've read all year....I can tell that this is a book I'll return to again and again and get more out of it each time I do. It's a wonderful and timely work that is a must-read in an age of ubiquitous computation, universal information resources, and hacker-activist renaissance, there's no better primer for putting it all together."Cory Doctorow BoingBoing

"A manifesto for the future of design, impeccably crafted by Bruce Sterling and enhanced by the delicately emphatic graphic intelligence of Lorraine Wild....*Shaping Things* hovers between science fiction and design fact, pushing forward into the future and showing how design happens."—Bill Moggridge, Cofounder, IDEO

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780262693264
  • Publisher: MIT Press
  • Publication date: 9/1/2005
  • Series: Mediaworks Pamphlets
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 152
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 7.50 (h) x 0.25 (d)

Meet the Author

Hugo Award-winning science fiction author and futurist Bruce Sterling has been called byTime "perhaps the sharpest observer of our media-choked culture working today in any genre." Three of his novels have been New York Times Notable Books of theYear, and he has been a contributing writer for Wired since its conception. In2005 he is "Visionary-in-Residence" at Art Center College of Design, Pasadena. Bruce Sterling's blogBeyond the Beyond has been active since 2003.

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Table of Contents

1 To whom it ought to concern 5
2 Tomorrow composts today 8
3 Old wine in new bottles 15
4 The personal is historical 25
5 Metahistory 37
6 A synchronic society 45
7 The rubbish makers 55
8 The stark necessity of glamor 61
9 An end-user drinks gizmo wine 70
10 Meet the spime 76
11 Arphids 85
12 An Internet of things 92
13 The model is the message 95
14 Fabbing 102
15 Spime economics 107
16 The designer's questions 112
17 Tomorrow's tomorrow 133
18 Ublopia or Otivion 138
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Customer Reviews

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 31, 2007

    Techno-futuristic ruminations on 'spimes' and sustainability

    Type a few words into Google and you can find a sushi restaurant, a movie theater, concert tickets or a new car. But if you misplace your car keys in your house, you still have to search the old-fashioned way: room by room, cushion by cushion, coat pocket by coat pocket. If Bruce Sterling is correct, though, one day you'll Google your keys. And your shoes. And your dog. This is the nascent 'Internet of things' made possible by technology, including such items as radio frequency ID tags and traceable product life cycle management. That is where technology is going: to the interactive 'spime,' Sterling's term for objects that will arrive with data attached. In this visually arresting novella-sized essay, Sterling riffs on a number of scenarios, from customized-to-order cell phones to products that 'know' how much carbon their construction required. His aphoristic prose seems at times like madness, but there's method in it: Sterling urges designers to make beautifully sustainable products rather than more proto-trash. We believe his book could reform your ideas about design and provide a stock of carbon-neutral insights you can deliver to your colleagues over a recyclable cup filled with shade-grown coffee.

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