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Bruce Sterling Shaping Things
Introducing Bruce
Michael Bruce Sterling (1954)
American science fiction author, best known for
his novels and for defining the cyberpunk genre.
Professor at the European Graduate School in
2003, where he is teaching on media and design.
“Visionary in residence“ at Art Center College of
Design in Pasadena, California, in 2005.
Writes science fiction, or ”design fiction”, because
he is passionate about technology and human
reaction to technological change. Has a special
interest in inventing new words for technosocial
aspects that hasen’t yet been described.
Involved in Worldchanging weblog, an attempt to
“create a "green" design movement with stylish
high-tech design”. Calls himself a futurist.
Currently lives in Belgrade with his wife.
Bruce Sterling Shaping Things
..and his lamp
Categorizes himself to have no sense for form at all;
can’t draw, can’t visualize in 3-d, can’t craft.
Has despite this designed a lamp himself on request
from a group of European artists.
Shaping things includes a handfull of proposals from
Bruce Sterling addressed to designers who wants to
help staking out a safe way for our future.
Bruce Sterling Shaping Things
BruceВґs Intentions
-production methods currently used
are NOT sustainable
-they use archaic forms of energy and
material which are finite and toxic
-you have to create substantial
Bruce Sterling Shaping Things
BruceВґs Expressions
-artificial objects, made by hand and
used by hand; powered by muscles
- used by FARMERS
Bruce Sterling Shaping Things
BruceВґs Expressions
-complex, precisely proportioned,
powered by non human/animal power
- used by COSTUMERS
Bruce Sterling Shaping Things
BruceВґs Expressions
-widely distributed,
-commercially available,
-anonymousily and uniformly
manufactured in massive quantities
-used by CONSUMERS
Bruce Sterling Shaping Things
BruceВґs Expressions
-widely distributed, user alterable,
multifeatured objects, commonly
programmable, lot of different
-cheaper to import features than to
simplify it (!)
-you can tap into the internet to get
more information and more features
-download plug ins, sources,
used by ENDUSERS
Bruce Sterling Shaping Things
BruceВґs a Metahistorican
-consists of yesterday, today and
-in metahistory you can lock up what
was yesterday, compare that to today
and also relate to the future
Bruce Sterling Shaping Things
BruceВґs SPIME
"when the entire industrial process is
made explicit, when the metrics
count for more than the object they
measure, then GIZMO becomes
Bruce Sterling Shaping Things
BruceВґs SPIME
-Spimes record everything,
concerning their production process,
how and by whom they are used, if it
worked out or not, how they are
-they record mistakes and success
-they are small metahisorical
-though immatural (begin and end as
data) seemingly material instantive
-their collected information can be
reused in future SPIMES
Bruce Sterling Shaping Things
BruceВґs SPIME
-if you tap into a SPIME you can gain
knowledge, of which you werenВґt
aware that you had it.
-with SPIMES the whole metahistory
of an object is at your hand
Bruce Sterling Shaping Things
By barcodes (witch is an old way of tagging things) we
can in some way keep the track of where objects are
and what they are.
Bruce Sterling Shaping Things
The arphids
With the RFID tags, all objects can be registered at
any time. Objects of this kind he calls arphids. To
read arphids you need arphid monitors.
Bruce Sterling Shaping Things
The internet of things
When Sterling talks about The internet of things, he
means that you are able to read your arphids
With simple technology we merge the GPS system
with the arphids. Then you can find out where stuff
Bruce Sterling Shaping Things
A scenario could be you Googling your keys if you
don’t remember where you put them.
Bruce Sterling Shaping Things
Synchronic society
If you are surrounded with a system like this,
Sterling would say you live in a Synchronic society.
Bruce Sterling Shaping Things
A Synchronic society generates trillions of
catalogable, searchable, trackable trajectories. Fine
grained details of different patterns, distribution
and recycling will synchronize and generate real
time small metahistories out of every object worthy
of human or machine consideration.
Bruce Sterling Shaping Things
We will gain an almost infinite library of experiences,
and we can for instance avoid wasting time doing
design mistakes over and over again.
Bruce Sterling Shaping Things
The technosocial transformation of Spimes make it
possible for criminals or spies to threat our privacy.
Proper Design should be the antidote to protect us.
With the new technology making it possible, this
change will happen. We cannot avoid it, just guide the
direction it will move in..
Bruce Sterling Shaping Things
Guidelines for Change
Most Advanced Yet Acceptable
M - grade of advancement
A – time dependent possibility
Y - resistment amongst certain people
A - time spirit / zeitgeist
What’s the designers responsibility?
Design helps killing more people.
Design helps melting Antarctica.
This is not yet the ACCEPTABLE truth.
Raymond Loewy designed the Lucky Strike logo
Bruce Sterling Shaping Things
The rubbish makers
Man the tool maker = man the rubbish maker?
We enjoy things, we use things; we wear them out
Humans have always failed to deal with trash as we
made it..
does spimes lead to a bright new future of
sustainability where we as consumers has defeated
most of the rubbish-makers, and instead created a
self sustaining society?
Fabbing is to make physical things out of virtual
Bruce Sterling Shaping Things
End user in Gizmo age
cognitive load - the brainpower invested in reading,
researching, talking, learning, paying attention
towards a certain topic.
opportunity costs – sacrifices you make for the sake of
something you’d rather do, since the hours of the day
can only be filled to a certain limit.
choose options, navigate risks and hope they don’t bother suing me..
Bruce Sterling Shaping Things
Design thinking
Thinking about objects is a designers profession,
we are generally generous with both cognitive load
and opportunity costs.
Spimes will solve this time-problem, and they have to
be designed by someone..
Bruce Sterling Shaping Things
The future
The quest for a sustainable world may succeed, or it
may fail. In practice, people will experience mixed
So what does the future look like?
Utopia or Oblivion are just empty phrases, the most
likely results are Ublopia and Otivion.
Bruce Sterling Shaping Things
The End
there is no end cause with Spimes our culture
has obtained more future..
Bruce Sterling Shaping Things
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