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Blobjects & Gizmos & Spimes (oh my!)

Boing-Boing has a transcript of WorldChanging ally #1 Bruce Sterling's recent keynote for the 2004 SIGGRAPH conference, wherein he takes on "blobjects," the digital manipulation of industrial design, and "spimes" -- the next iteration of material objects (the order is: artifacts, the tools of subsistance farmers and gatherer-hunters; machines, used by customers in an industrial society; products, used by consumers in a military-industrial complex; gizmos, used by end-users in our current era; and finally spimes, used by "wranglers" -- all of which makes sense if you read the speech).

Alex adds: On second reading, I think this is the most important speech/rant Bruce has laid on us since the original Viridian Design speech. It's Viridian 2.0, essentially. Do yo'self a favor. Read it. ((Except -- Jesus God! "Spime" is an awful word. An insult to the tongue, an injury to the ear, and, to my mind, at least, utterly forgetable. We must be able to do better than "Spime."))

Comments (3)

This is both classic Sterlingian oratory and a dead-on hit of what dematerialization means for a bright green future:

"Having conquered the world made of bits, you need to reform the world made of atoms. Not the simulated image on the screen, but corporeal, physical reality. Not meshes and splines, but big hefty skull-crackingly solid things that you can pick up and throw. That's the world that needs conquering. Because that world can't manage on its own. It is not sustainable, it has no future, and it needs one.

It is going to get one from you.

Now let me briefly tell you how I think this process will play out.

Listen to this: ProE, FormZ, Catia, Rhino, Solidworks. Wifi, bluetooth, WiMax. Radio frequency ID chips. Global and local positioning systems. Digital inventory systems. Cradle-to-cradle production methods. Design for disassembly. Social software, customer relations management. Open source manufacturing.

These jigsaw pieces are snapping together. They create a picture, the picture of a new and different kind of physicality. It's a new relationship between humans and objects.

If you can bear with me a while today, and kind of oil and loosen the joints of your incredulity, I'm gonna suspend some disbelief for you here.

You see, the future is already here, it's just not well distributed yet.


I really hate to say this as BruceS is a fine orator and a great writer, but I found this keynote to be relatively uninspiring, particularly compared with his other excellent speeched like the Viridian Design Speech, the Geeks and Spooks rant, or the Open Source speech.

As I said to Howard in email, I think I fall somewhere betwen the two of you in my reaction: Bruce raises some interesting ideas, but I don't think it's Viridian 2.0 yet. Maybe the next iteration of the speech...


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