The Stories a Lamp or a Table Could Tell


It is a constant frustration (particularly as a former designer) to see how little people actually understand about design, about how long it takes, and about how difficult it really is. Then there are the problems of actually making stuff, which is also hard. That’s why so many Kickstarter projects end up in tears, as people come up against the realization that everything takes longer and costs more than you ever thought it would.

On XKCD, Randall Munroe nails it with his lastest, where he looks at some of the most ordinary objects and the kind of issues that affect designers, manufacturers, marketers and lawyers. He is right about one thing; it is indeed overwhelming.

On BoingBoing, Corey Doctorow reminds us of Bruce Sterling’s idea of 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.

Spimes were a way of documenting the stories of the stuff we make, everything that goes into it. It is too bad that a lamp or a table or for that matter, a building cannot tell their stories of how they got to be what they are. I am reminded of that old IKEA ad where the Swedish guys says lamps don’t have feelings. Perhaps not, but they do have stories.