Summary of Shaping Things

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Shaping Things book summary


8 Overall

7 Applicability

10 Innovation

8 Style


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. getAbstract believes 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.

In this summary, you will learn

  • Why industrial design is important;
  • How industrial designers can promote sustainability; and
  • How information technology and "spimes" will change the design and use of everyday objects.

About the Author

Bruce Sterling is a science fiction author and journalist. He was "visionary in residence" at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California.



Making Junk
"Men are born makers," wrote the poet Derek Walcott, with "that itching instinct in the criss-crossed net of their palms, its wickerwork." But what are designers today making? Mostly garbage. It's not garbage now, of course. Now it's called a tire or a shoe or a DVD player ...

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