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Massive Change Hardcover – October 1, 2004
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"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? Cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, and instead, follow the data: In seventy-five jaw-dropping graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise. Learn more
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From Publishers Weekly
Utopianism is not dead; it has migrated from politics to materialism. This book, says Canadian industrial designer Mau (who founded Toronto City College's Institute Without Borders), is "not about the world of design; it's about the design of the world." In a form that is part Apple ad, part Powerpoint presentation and part architectural pastiche à la Rem Koolhaus, Mau's volume brings together designs and theories (mostly Western) and photographers (global) that "tap into global commons," "distribute capacity" and "embrace paradox": superstrong fibers modeled on gecko hairs; "sustainable business" that embraces corporate accountability; the "redesigning" of Third World property law; genetic engineering, macro- and microimaging technologies; virtual reality technology that allows collaboration over large distances; a "cyberneticized" military that paradoxically has more nonviolent options. All of these ideas (some of which are now reality) are here in words and pictures, often further explained through q&a's with leading researchers. The result reads, intentionally, like a friendly corporate prospectus or catalogue, except that the "product" on offer is a radically hopeful vision of the future. With 250 color and 50 b&w photos in a fractally chaotic layout, and a text that speaks in affirmative sound bites, this book offers a vision of the world in a package designed to get readers excited about stoves that burn peanut shells, superlight gels that can protect flowers from flame, and plants and microbes that turn open sewers into water supplies. It succeeds beautifully.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
'Nothing less than a design for life.' (Art Review) 'Massive Change is about everything and everybody ... intelligent, visually provocative ... not just a modern guide to technologies, but also a discussion of how they affect our planet.' (Building Engineer) 'The most unusual design book of the year ... This is in-depth thinking.' (Financial Times) 'With impeccable artistic contributions ... and informed articles, Massive Change muses on the trends that will shape this century.' (Wallpaper*) 'A well-argued, well-illustrated and indeed inspiring book that breaks from the usual mould.' (FX) "Sings like an ode to sustainable development.' (Dazed & Confused) 'GLOBAL WAKE-UP CALL In a back cover tag-line that wouldn't seem out of place on a movie poster, it boldly states that 'Massive Change is not about the world of design; it's about the design of the world.' Amazingly, it manages to live up to his assertion. ... Yes, it's idealistic, but you'll be so engrossed in the texts, images and sheer self-belief that you'll forgive it. ... Enormous in its scope, Massive Change is a wake-up call to everyone concerned with the 'sustainability' of the human race on earth. And its' only 20 quid. Incredible!' ( Architectural Review) ' With 250 color and 50 B&W photos in a fractally chaotic layout, and a text that speaks in affirmative sound bites, this book offers a vision of the world in a package designed to get readers excited about stoves that burn peanut shells, superlight gels that can protect flowers from flame, and plants and microbes that turn open sewers into water supplies. It succeeds beautifully.' (Publishers Weekly) 'Bruce Mau is as close as you'll get to a design-world hero.' (Surface)
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In a time when staying optimistic about the world requires (for me) more calories than a workout on the stairmaster, I need all the GOOD NEWS I can get, this book has nothing but. True, the book does have that certain hoaky 'TIME's 30 New Leaders of the New Millenium'-style of presentation: 2 page interviews that cannot really go into any depth about anything; and great ideas that may never see the light of day for reasons beyond anyone's control. But let's let that slide: some of the ideas are already in place. Besides, even a misanthrope like me has to take a break and hope every now and then...
Mau (and his team of researchers) addresses here the bigger issue in design: they call it the "design of the world." That is, as opposed to the narrow "world of design" that is so often mired in pathological (head up the colon) narcissism in its inane, frivolous pursuit / fetishism of singular objects.
Thus, in keeping with their objective of presenting a wider perspective, Mau and his team wisely steered clear of all "celebrity designers" -- who are...what, for the most part, essentially nothing more than fussy, uptight, tempermental servant-toadies whose function is to glamorize the imperialism of capitalism, are they not?
Instead, they went talking to scientists, science writers, engineers, an economist(Hernando de Soto), a law professor, engineers, et al. And a couple of architects who seem sincere and all, but could have been left out.
The people interviewed here, for the most part, have the means and ideas to bring about REAL consequential changes on a global scale: people who don't call themselves designers but whose works are crucial in shaping the world to come for the better. And as the interviewees use the word, 'better' means 'better for EVERYONE' on this planet. And that means seeing Design as 'creatively, compassionately applied-intelligence' to the real problems faced by billions of people who do not live in the well-plugged cities of the world, and do not share even a fraction of what most of us take for granted. Electricity and potable water, for example. We're not talking about a "better" office cubicle or a "better" sofa, cappucino maker, shoes, etc -- important though they are. The book merely asks that we get a perspective on things.
In keeping with the TIME mag format, the book functions as an ad for the people (and their org) who are featured here -- which is fine, since ignoramuses like me can get an overview of who's doing what. But it also a manifesto calling for a bigger idea of 'design': Design as the art of domesticating the full potential of technology to situate ourselves back into the law of ecology by by creative cosmopolitanism and ethical pragmatism in our stewardship of the world.
If, like me, you agree with Hal Foster's diatribe in his 'Design and Crime' (where he basically accuses the design industry of being complicitly evil for serving a self-serving structure of inequity), then I think this book offers a hopeful view of Design as something REALLY consequential -- as opposed to that arrogated by the frivolous, exclusionary, image-driven, self-important nincumpoops that comprise the field of "high design" today.
Highly recommended for 2 kinds of people:
One, colonocephalic people who cannot see other people -- only what they have on; and think nothing of killing to have a 'nice pair/set of whatever.'
Two, all cool people who dream of a cool world for all.
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