Cory Doctorow just posted his comments about Bruce Sterling's new book, Shaping Things on Boing Boing. He looks at Sterling's views on the future of industrial design and society (and does an excellent job of explaining what a "spime" is and how it is useful). Doctorow calls the book "the most thought-provoking thing I've read all year:"
Bruce's latest nonfiction is a short book from MIT Press called Shaping Things, and it's grounded in a theory of design, technology and history that analyses how the tools that designers deliver change society, and how that changes us, and that changes design. Sterling traces the history of tools from artifacts (farmers' tools) to machines (customers' devices) to products (customers' purchases) to gizmos (end-users' platforms) and to the future, which is defined by what Sterling calls Spimes.
A Spime is a location-aware, environment-aware, self-logging, self-documenting, uniquely identified object that flings off data about itself and its environment in great quantities. A universe of Spimes is an informational universe, and it is the use of this information that informs the most exciting part of Sterling's argument.
[T]his book had me scribbling all over the margins, underlining juicy passages (no one turns a provocative phrase like Sterling, e.g., "The future composts the past") and dog-earing the corners. I can tell that this is a book I'll return to again and again and get more out of it each time I do. It's a wonderful and timely work that is a must-read in an age of ubiquitous computation, universal information resources, and hacker-activist renaissance, there's no better primer for putting it all together.
The entire post can be read here.