- Series: Mediaworks Pamphlets
- Paperback: 152 pages
- Publisher: The MIT Press (October 7, 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0262693267
- ISBN-13: 978-0262693264
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.2 x 7.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 26 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #290,266 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Shaping Things (Mediaworks Pamphlets) 0th Edition
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Now, with Shaping Things, design gets full-court consideration in a powerfully argued thesis tracking the profession's trajectory toward a new product order...On top of being one of the most strikingly insightful little volumes on the design shelves, Shaping Things, designed by Lorraine Wild, is one of the most originally and empathically crafted pieces of evidence that artifacts do evolve, and that designers may hold the keys to a more sophisticated relationship to the things around us we take for granted.(Architect's Newspaper)
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 of Buckminster 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 Schrage Across 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)
About the Author
Hugo Award-winning science fiction author and futurist Bruce Sterling has been called by Time "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 the Year, and he has been a contributing writer for Wired since its conception. In 2005 he is "Visionary-in-Residence" at Art Center College of Design, Pasadena. Bruce Sterling's blog Beyond the Beyond has been active since 2003.
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Below are the frameworks and definitions Sterling proposes in Shaping Things, and I feel presenting them here is the best promotion of the book I can provide.
Chapter 2. Tomorrow Composts Today. Major terms and framework: Artifacts. Machines. Products. Gizmos. Spimes.
1) Artifacts: (def) Simple artificial objects. Made by hand, powered by muscle, created one at a time. People with an infrastructure of Artifacts are "Hunters and Farmers ".
2) Machines: (def) Complex, precisely proportioned artifacts with many moving parts tapped into a non-muscle power source. People using an infrastructure of Machines are "Customers".
Sterling the asks how to draw the line between an era of "hunters and farmers" and an era of "customers". How marks a "Line of No Return" and a "Line of Empire". I especially like the "Line of Empire".
Sterling dates the advent of Machine technoculture to the eclipse of the Mongols in the 1500's. "Before that time, an Artifact culture of bows and horses could blacken the earth with its rampaging hordes. After that date, the world is at the mercy of the West, as mechanization takes command."
3) Products: (def) Widely distributed, commercially available objects, anonymously and uniformly manufactured in massive quantities, using a planned division of labor with rapid non-artisanal, assembly line techniques, operating over continental economies of scale, supported by reliable transportation, finance and information systems. People within an infrastructure of Products are "Consumers".
Sterling dates the advent of Products to the period around World War I.
4) Gizmos: (def) Highly unstable, user-alterable, baroquely multi-featured objects, commonly programable, with a brief lifespan. Also they are often linked to network service providers; they are not stand -alone objects but interfaces. People within an infrastructure of Gizmos are "End-Users".
Sterling writes "Unlike Artifacts, Machines, and Products, Gizmos have enough functionality to actively nag people. Their deployment demands extensive, sustained interaction: upgrades, grooming, plug-ins, plug-outs, unsought messages, security threats, and so forth."
The Gizmo epoch begins in 1989.
5) Spimes: (def) Manufactured objects, with informational support so extensive they are regarded as material instantiations of an immaterial system. Spimes begin and end as data. They are designed on screens, fabricated by digital means, and precisely tracked through space and time throughout their earthly sojourn. People within an infrastructure of Spimes are "Wranglers".
Sterling writes "Spimes are sustainable, enhanceable, uniquely identifiable, and made of substances that can and will be folded back into the production stream of future Spimes. Eminently data-mineable, Spimes are the protagonists of an historical process."
Sterling dates the Spime epoch beginning in 2004, when the Department of Defense demanded its suppliers attach Radio Frequency ID tags, or "arphids", to military supplies.
Sterling writes "I'll be spending the rest of this little book exploring what a Spime might be, or become, and how people will interact with Spimes. There are no such things as true Spimes yet -these are still speculative, imaginary concepts. I will try to make the case that Spimes are genuine prospects for genuine in the future, and worthy of designer's attention. I hope to persuade you that clever young people had better get used to these ideas."
Later in the book Sterling goes into lengthy qualification that Spimes are the answer to our sustainability/pollution problem, due to their ability to track themselves and assist and manage the sending of themselves to the proper disposal and recycling center.
The above should give a good sense of Shaping Things -what it offers, what it is about, and enough of a sample of terms and quotes to see its genius.
This book would be useful for not just anyone designing anything, but anyone concerned with the future, how to achieve real sustainability, or how all that geeky stuff (you occasionally read about in the Wired you pick up at the airport) will really effect you.
I agree with another reviewer that the actual print design of the book is a hindrance, which is ironic; my distaste for it was only made worse by having already heard Sterling brag on it during a talk. But even with this beef, I have to give it a full five stars based on the content alone.
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