December 26, 2011

Blog All Dog-Eared Pages: Shaping Things by Bruce Sterling

Although I went to the launch of the Italian version of Shaping Things by Bruce Sterling way back in 2007, it wasn't until recently that I owned a copy, and only last weekend that I started reading it. I'm sad to say that it wasn't the Italian version, but at least that meant I could understand it...

It was a very quick read, and I haven't dog-eared many pages. However, that's not because there's nothing useful in the book - just that it works best read as an entire work, rather than as excerpts. If you've any interest in design or products then this is a good manifesto for how they should become more sustainable as well as more futuristic.

Page 22
Everyone can't be a designer - any more than everyone can be a mayor or a senator

Page 23
[...] with enough informational power, the "invisible hand of the market" becomes visible. The hand of the market was called "invisible" because Adam Smith, an eighteenth-century economist, had very few ways to measure it. Adam Smith lacked metrics. Metrics make things visible.

Page 95
Suppose that I'm trying to create a new kind of object, to shape a new kind of thing. I don't want to be burdened with the weighty physicality of the old one. I want a virtual 3-D model of the new one, a weightless, conceptual, interactive model that I can rotate inside a screen, using 3-D design software.

Then I'm not troubled by its stubborn materiality...

The dog-ears don't add much I'm afraid, and this last one I included because I think it shows one of the common mistakes that non-product-designers (and I include myself firmly in this camp) make when getting into making physical objects. The digital it's-all-about-the-new-tools-and-digital-fabrication mentality rarely survives its first encounter with reality. The new tools do unlock new ways of working, but they don't mean you can ignore the physicality of the materials and avoid iterations and prototyping in the real world. That said, Shaping Things is definitely more good than bad.


Posted by Adrian at December 26, 2011 11:08 AM | TrackBack

This blog post is on the personal blog of Adrian McEwen. If you want to explore the site a bit further, it might be worth having a look at the most recent entries or look through the archives or categories over on the left.

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