Friday, January 27, 2006

Waiting and Shaping Things - Extremely Late & Tantalisingly Close

I'm waiting for DHL to deliver some parcels. According to the tracking form on their website, they've stopped by twice and left a note in the last 24 hours, but I don't see evidence of either. So the brain has to go out for a walk by itself.

I've just put down Bruce Sterling's Shaping Things, a short non-fictional super-pamphlet on the evolution of created objects, including the post-product era of gizmos, spimes and biots. There's a nice little rant towards the end on why most companies know less about their own products than many of the consumers of same. In a "webtake" on the book, John Thackera writes:

I never worried until now about the reversal of the Earth's magnetic field. Should I? Are They covering something up? Will all electrical motors go into reverse? On all the elevators in the world, will down become up? Will MS Word become usable? I think we should be told.

Amusingly, even though spimes are "future manufactured objects with informational support so extensive and rich that they are regarded as material instantiations of an immaterial system." the construction of the associated MIT Mediaworks webpages is so awkward that they nearly stand as antithesis to the themes in these pamphlets.

More pleasurably, I've started Jonathan Safran Foer's Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, a reaction to the events of 9/11 through the voice of a precocious boy who loses his father in the collapse of the Twin Towers.

For a nice lift, try this fab mashup of 10cc's I'm not in love with Marvin Gaye vocals layered over the top: Go Home Productions - Marvin's Not in Love (Parts 1.2)

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