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The Material Future

brucesrfid.jpgBruce Sterling, WorldChanging Ally #1, recently gave a talk at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet Muenchen about the future of objects, design, spimes and the "internet of things." The talk is now available in streaming video. He's not in his familiar (and beloved) Sterling Rant Mode; it's more of an academic presentation (perhaps he's practicing for his new guest teaching gig). Although Bruce is somewhat subdued, it's still an interesting talk -- he has an excellent sense of the important factors shaping the future of material objects, and the results of deep integration between objects and information.

He argues that there are six key factors shaping the future of material objects:

1) Interactive chips that can label objects with unique ID;
2) Local and global positioning systems that can determine the location of tagged objects;
3) Powerful search engines, particularly for local searches -- a Google for finding things around you;
4) 3D virtual design of objects;
5) Rapid prototyping production and fabricators;
6) Cradle to cradle manufacturing, zero-emissions production, "design for disassembly," and "a new kind of death for objects."

It's a lengthy talk, lasting for about an hour, but Bruce manages to tie together some important trends in a compelling way. If you have any interest in the future of design, sustainable production or privacy, definitely take a look.


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Comments (2)


And the most futuristic and important material is undoubtedly brute, vitalistic, un-mediated, pre-representational and pre-informational stuff, like rocks and stone.
I see a grand future for architectural and object spaces that are "liberated" of all electronics, chips, information and mediation. The more things get wired and connected, the more people will feel the need to touch and experience the opposite.
It's a new, hidden trend in architecture which doesn't get a lot of attention: it's post-gizmo, post-design, post-conceptual, post-machinic, post-informational.


Sorry, I'm really fascinated by this topic. I'm an avid reader of Baudrillard and Virillio, and their point about mediation always being perverse, repressive and obscene certainly applies to this lecture.
Maybe it's too much of a French thing, all the talk about post-representational spaces and material objects (see Deleuze on the ruin of representation). Also, the new trend in post-conceptual and post-mediated architecture is definitely French. See Jean Nouvel's aesthetics.


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