21 April 2006
I am currently reading Bruce Sterling’s Shaping Things. On pg. 23 he talks a bit about how metrics should make the inner workings of technologies more apparent to this user. He says “There are many ways to make these metrics impinge on my behavior – by making things cost more or less, of course, but also making their workings more obvious, giving me a stake, and putting them closer to my fingertips.” (p. 23)
This reminds me of the various ideas present in Why Things Matter, by Julian Bleecker. Specifically, it reminds me of the How Stuff is Made project. This project attempts to embed “manufacturing processes, labor conditions, environmental consequences and so on” within an object itself. Bleecker refers to this process as giving an object an “embedded event history” and is relevant to his discussions of “blogjects” (see Why Things Matter).
Anyway, all of these concerns, along with the growing DIY craze (note the rise in public popularity of Makezine, Hack-a-day, Endgadget, Instructables and others) lead me to believe that people are beginning to have a different relationship with technology. There is a growning sense of empowerment that comes with education (i.e. how do I take fix my own ipod) that is facilitated by the multimedia capabilities of the internet. Of course there has always been a hacker sub-culture – Popular Mechanics and Popular Science have encouraged hacking for quite a while, but this seems more extensive.
Hopefully this more empowered relationship with technological “things” will result in better artmakers and will encourage technological creativity in formerly tech-wary students.