Tuesday, May 02, 2006


IT-conversation just posted a good speech by Bruce Sterling, recorded at Emerging Tech 2006. The title is ”The internet of things”. As usual Sterling is deeper than he appears to be.

In his speech Sterling outlines 6 qualities of a future ”internet of things”:
1. With interactive chips, objects can be labelled with unique identeties, electronically bar-coded, using RFID, a tag that you can mark, rank, sort and shuffle.
2. With local and precise positioning systems, geolocative systems which work out where you are and where things are.
3. With powerful search engines, autogoogling objects.
4. With cradle to cradle recycling, sustainability, transparent production, sorting and shuffling of garbage
5. 3d virtual models of things, virtual design, cad and cam, having objects present as virtualities in the network before they become physical objects 6. Rapid prototyping of objects, fabjects, the ability to digitally manufacture real world things directly or almost directly from their virtual plans

And Sterling proceeds:
Now, if objects in the future had these 6 qualities people would interact with objects in an un-precedented way. It will be so strange and different that we could think about it better if this class of objects had its own name. So I call an object like that a ”spime”. Because an object like that is traceable in space and time

Spimes are manufactured objects whose informational support is so extensive and rich that they are regarded as material instantiations of an immaterial system. Spimes begin and end as data, they are virtual objects first and actual objects second.
So we can engage with these objects better during their entire life cycle. From their moment of invention to their decay.

Sterling also adds that spimes are things which are plannable, trackable, findable, recyclable, uniquely identified and that generate histories.

End of quote.
Personally, I don’t like the word ”spime”, if just for the tone of it. But I’m not sure either that this particular definition is the best way to encircle and categorize a set of developments that I DO believe is significant, and which Sterling summarizes brilliantly.
A illuminating excercise is to try imagine what the objects of the industry you happen to be in would be like, if fitted with those 6 qualities. Very different!

1 comment:

Henrik Føhns said...