Perhaps deadhead is the wrong name. Those of us who simply prefer to select out of objects and use rapid fabrication tools to make them (some distorted sense of the phrase easy bake oven) might be more of the unconscious designer. Perhaps the movement from selection off the shelf to selection from the database realized by the 3D printer is one that heightens the unconscious, intuitive processes, which guide most peoples decisions. No more are we simply subject to the choices made by marketers and corporate entities so distant from ourselves. The digital networked landscape of individualized (and somewhat anonymized) items with little branding – aside from generic 3D renderings and basic “product shots” – lure our eyebuds not through the tertiary lusts of past (as designed for the likes of coke and pepsi, both sugar waters distinguished through not taste but can appearance) rather through a more primary desire for that thing, that maker thing. A desire to both feel ownership of the process of making, the implicit ability to customize if we so desire (without being required to) and the expansive panoramic of options presented on the silver platers of web browsers near you. The internet of things, the mako-verse as it is so called has dawned. We are left to seek it out, to ignore it, or to unconsciously participate in the selection of items we desire made by people we’ve never met. Yet people they are. Not the corporations, those incorporeal entities with constitutional rights, from which our choices are displayed like the buffet at the neighborhood nursing home – a palate fit for no plate.
Yet the unabashedly positive outlook upon these technologies – their effects, and affect – is painfully worrying. Where are the critical dispositions. Even from a supposed technology journalist, one of the better ones that exist (the Scobleizer), we see little desire to problematize this new cult of making. The entrepreneurial pornography which grows in these maker fetish houses has gone unchecked. Should we promote this type of work, this type of craft. A plop and choose style of design. A design without conciousness, yet with ample self-conciousness (the unimaginable bastard child of Christopher Alexander’s Notes on the Synthesis of Form, and wholly unrecognizable to the earlier basis of D’Arcy Wentworth Tomposons On Growth and Form). Where do we cross the line from play to societal decision making. When should I become purposefully critical of these processes, and perhaps people.
Yes I use the laser cutter, the CNC mill. Hell, I may have even participated in the propagation of these techniques and ideas. But here, across the bay from the Tech – seated with the luxury of time and the valency of distance – I view them through the worms eye. I see the plans, their unfolding, their unconscious formations. But it only leaves questions. I cannot stop participating. The laser cutter, as the good CEO suggests is a gateway drug. Although it was not mine.
Great video, must watch. The whole thing (you know who you are…)
This evening I heard Jaron Lanier speaking on “Who Owns the Future?” at Cooper Union. This seems to have been a promotion for his new book of the same title. The lecture blurb reads:
The rise of digital networks — Facebook, Twitter, Google, and others — has led our economy into recession and decimated the middle class. Now, as technology flattens more and more industries, we face even greater challenges to employment and personal wealth.
He had many things to say that I found pleasingly trenchant about how this new world of massive data scraping is developing. Of the several central points, perhaps the most trenchant was that “Information doesn’t exist outside of context and information” — by which he means that it is not possible for organizations to use all of that data to gain wealth without affecting the ecosystem that produced it. And for that reason the model of accumulating wealth and power by scraping data without returning something to the source of the data is not an effective perpetual motion machine — it will eventually break down when the source of data ceases to be productive.
The myth of the framework can be stated in one sentence, as follows.
A rational and fruitful discussion is impossible unless the participants share a common framework of basic assumptions or, at least, unless they have agreed on such a framework for the purpose of discussion.
In the formulation I gave of the myth, it is a fruitful discussion which is declared impossible. Against this I shall defend the directly opposite thesis: that a discussion between people who share many views is unlikely to be fruitful, even though it may be pleasant; while a discussion between vastly different frameworks can be extremely fruitful, even though it may sometimes be extremely difficult, and perhaps not quite so pleasant (though we may learn to enjoy it).
— “The Myth of the Framework” (1965, 1974), in M. A. Notturno, ed., The Myth of the Framework: In defence of science and rationality (London and New York: Routledge, 1994), pp. 33-65; quotation from pp. 34-5.