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).
This guide to greener electronics is published by Greenpeace. The most recognized companies are rated according to three issues: eliminating hazardous substances, takeback programs and recycling their products responsibly once they become obsolete, and reducing the climate impacts of their operations and products. The chart has been updated regularly since August 2006 where Nokia and Dell were the leaders and today Sony seams to be leading the way.
I have mentioned Terracycle before on this blog where I recognized their truly innovative business model for making high quality organic lawn and garden products out of “waste” organic worm poop and discarded soda bottles. From it’s inception in 2001, the company has done an amazing job with it’s brand, and has expanded it’s product line beyond fertilizers to cleaning products and others including the Firelog made from a very problematic bio-diesel byproduct, glycerin. Now they have partnered up with one of the worlds largest food and beverage companies in their first effort to up cycle Kraft products packaging into a new category of eco-friendly consumer products.
What a traditional capitalistic enterprise would consider a limitation, Terracycle has turned into an advantage. There aren’t many marketing or development teams that would embrace the challenge of creating products completely out of garbage. Terracycle is thriving by doing exactly that, turning waste into an asset, their business model is based on trash, no pun intended. Their whole product development process is based on using waste as the raw material in every aspect including the packaging. Terracycle’s model is one of the most inspiring working examples of eco-capitalism, by taking material that is generally considered an industrial and environmental liability and turning it into an asset.