" Shaping Things is about created objects and the environment,which is to say, it's about everything," writes Bruce Sterling in this addition to the MediaworkPamphlet series. He adds, "Seen from sufficient distance, this is a small topic."Sterling offers abrilliant, often hilarious history of shaped things. We have moved from an age of artifacts, made byhand, through complex machines, to the current era of "gizmos." New forms of design and manufactureare appearing that lack historical precedent, he writes; but the production methods, using archaicforms of energy and materials that are finite and toxic, are not sustainable. The future will see anew kind of object ;we have the primitive forms of them now in our pockets and briefcases:user-alterable, baroquely multi-featured, and programmable ;that will be sustainable, enhanceable,and uniquely identifiable. Sterling coins the term "spime" for them, these future manufacturedobjects with informational support so extensive and rich that they are regarded as materialinstantiations of an immaterial system. Spimes are designed on screens, fabricated by digital means,and precisely tracked through space and time. They are made of substances that can be folded backinto the production stream of future spimes, challenging all of us to become involved in theirproduction. Spimes are coming, says Sterling. We will need these objects in order to live; we won'tbe able to surrender their advantages without awful consequences.
The vision ofShaping Things is given material form by the intricate design of LorraineWild. Shaping Things is for designers and thinkers,engineers and scientists, entrepreneurs and financiers ;and anyone who wants to understand and bepart of the process of technosocial transformation.