I strongly recommend Shaping Things from The MIT Press where Bruce Sterling takes us through a thought provoking journey from “artifact” to “biot” making us realize that we are no longer consumers but “end-users” living in a “gizmo” society and that our “gizmos” are “highly unstable, user-alterable, baroquely multi-featured objects, commonly programmable, with a brief life-span”.
If you want to gain insight about a designers role in a techonosociety and how networked technologies like RFID’s are going to influence the way we think of design, you must read this book.
I first came across author Bruce Sterling at the 1999 IDSA conference in Chicago where he got up on the podium and introduced himself as a futurist and began speaking in a Bucky Fuller style techno-design language. At that moment, I thought that had to be the coolest job in existence… until I figured out that it was just another name for a science fiction writer.
Either way Bruce is much more than that, he admits having zero design talent but understands the design process better than most design professionals, not only is he a respected design critic but also one of the most influential instigators of the bright green design movement. See Viridian Design.
Bruce suggest that design is the only discipline that consciously thinks of not only the objects but more importantly their technosocial relationships with the end-users which can take a heavy toll on an individuals cognitive load (dedicated brain RAM) and opportunity cost (time required to interact).
During the broadcast of the Olympics in China, I have seen the correspondents on TV try a lot of unconventional foods. We all know that food consumption worldwide is obviously very diverse but have you ever wondered what does this actually looks like? What does one week of food look like for your family?
I was weeding through my bulk mail folder and I found something that although my spam filter had correctly classified as spam, my human filter found very interesting. It was a massively sent email with some very interesting photographs of families posing next to all the food they normally eat during one week. Each photograph is from a different and unique part of the world and states the total food cost for that week in their local currency and in US dollars. I mashed these from the mail but later found out that they are from a book by Peter Menzel and Faith D’Aluisio called Hungry Planet.
Besides the ethnic and cultural differences in the people and their setting, the most interesting thing that stands out to me is the contrast in the amounts of packaging or (waste) per food item. If you compare say Ecuador ($32/week) in the top middle to Kuwait ($222/week) or Norther California ($324/week) on each side, you may at first think that some of that price differential is accredited to the unnecessary and excessive processing and packaging. Then I thought that I would be willing to bet that most of that Ecuadorian food shown is uncertified but never the less 100% organic and fresh which does not require any packaging. Let me ask you this, how much do you think all that organic food would cost In a WholeFoods or Trader Joe’s up in Northern California?
Also found a good quality presentation of the whole photograph collection here
Annie Leonards and her team have done an amazing job with a fun and effective way of creating awareness in several related issues. Her 20 min. video, “The story of Stuff” could be one of the most important videos in the youtube library. They have been uploaded in sections but I encourage everyone to watch the whole video from their home site in order to gain a holistic understanding of the issues that the sustainability movement needs to tackle in order to turn our mother ship around.
It is really amazing to see how the information in these videos is completely new and fresh to those outside the bright green community and if you read through some of the comments below the videos, you can see a sort of snapshot of all the different points of view or “states of consciousness”.
If you ask me, The Story of Stuff should be in every school library and it should be viewed by all young children. Yes, there is a bit of an environmentalist bias communicated in the video and some of the information shown is outright shocking to hear but most of it is very accurate and telling of humanities current reality.
Please take a few minutes to watch the video for it will definitely help you gain clarity in the related issues and also provide you with some great one liners to combat the still skeptical.
P.S. images are from the video but slightly mashed as always.