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Designing the Shape of Space & Time

December 1, 2008 - 2 Comments

Human social and technological transformations are forming on a tectonic scale creating new advancements and opportunity. New ideas and tools are being created, to help understand and raise the standard of living for the undeveloped and developed world around us. Whether from social, economic, informational, manufacturing, distribution processes and consumer behavior, there increasingly determined by the intricate dynamics of these evolving networks or simply said, the coming ‘ Internet of Things‘. Allow me to attempt to connect a few dots Bruce Sterling, Author and Futurist of,”Shaping Things“, best describes the phenomena of ‘Spimes’. Sterling coined the name ‘Spime’ by contracting the words ‘space’ and ‘time’. Spimes have the ability to be aware of their environment, they know where they are, and when they are, and keep track of some parameter around them. Sensing, memory, and ubiquitous communication enable Spimes to accurately map the physical world around them. He describes that we have come from the making of artifacts from hand to complex machines and the recent era of ‘gizmos’. Those methods of using finite materials and energy have reached beyond unreasonable levels becoming economically unsustainable and toxic on many levels. FlickrWatch this very interesting Bruce Sterling interview Part 1, Part 2, Part 3. The ‘Spime’ represents the new form of object that can be formed. They are here already in their most primitive form on our phones and laptops. Future objects or Spimes will be so informational rich and extensive they will be regarded as a new form of material in an immaterial system. Spimes basically rely on improvements in distribution chain management technology (such as computationally active - not passive - RFID chips with GPS positioning and time-binding capability) to monitor their own progress, order supplies and maintenance work, notify their owner when action is required, and, at the end of their life, arrange for their own collection and dispatch to a suitable recycling point.This past Spring David Orban Chief Evangelist at The OpenSpime Technology Company, spoke about their project the world of OpenSpime at ETech He asked,”Do we really know our planet? Because it talks to us but it talks to us in a manner we can not comprehend quickly enough because our societies change the planet more quickly than we can listen”. He believes that OpenSpime will give us the tools to listen and monitor our planet; further more giving us the ability to have pier to pier Science to collectively explore new ideas and creativity. More recently this month at Shift 08 he goes beyond the surface and describes not why but how you can manage to filter and aggregate critical data as it’s generated from tens of millions of sensor devices. FlickrEteh Watch here Shift 08 Watch hereLater on this past summer the OpenSpime Developer Network and were launched. The architecture of the OpenSpime protocols, based on an extension to XMPP, formally known as Jabber, is available for anyone to explore, and improve. Anybody can run his or her own OpenSpime servers, and implement OpenSpime compliant applications using the Pyopenspime libraries which were released simultaneously.Technical explanation watch here.Tagging to Fabbing The wisdom of crowd sourcing is already at work with a cool mashup using OpenSpime and Google Maps to detect CO2 gases. Watch here.Mashup Google Maps on Second Life from here.To follow on idea above imagine holding a secure mixed reality company meeting, music fest, sporting event or business conference on something like this? Push a little more to stream live broadcast from YouTube or Flickr galleries, Twitter feeds, sub-group match making for breakouts and background statistics in 3D graphics from different points around the world playing along the surrounding walls? The clouds in the sky, time of day, ambient lighting, music and audio translation could all be altered live individually per screen. The effective reduction in the size of the combined carbon foot print not only achieving significant cost savings but is extremely information rich experience accelerates the connected network effect. Ultimately shaping the design of such experiences would reflect positively on the entities brand perception. Current efforts by EOLUS in Second Life have brought together several companies to collaborate on creative solutions that demonstrate mixing real and virtual life ecommerce integrated with real world supply chain and CRM. Spimes are the logical output of a logistics infrastructure based on now affordable fabbers such as the Mcor Matrix, The only 3D printer in the world that can use ordinary/used A4 paper to make 3D objects at costs up to 50 times less expensive than its competitors’ current technologies. allows you to design a product and get it made in your own personal factory. You can also edit and mashup the product plans you download from Ponoko to create something completely original. If that isn’t enough you can produce and sell real homemade toys right from Second Life by creating plastic versions of avatars with Designing the Shape of Things has a profound effect on our quality of life. The motivation for companies to pay greater attention how they effect the ‘human experience’ in part can be viewed from areas of technological stagnation. A current example is with auto manufacturers who have been up against competition using better technology who have the upper hand on quality and price. Introducing Spimes could help the former change their thinking of designing for categories of products into experiences designed for an intended purpose. The more aware of experiences that your customers having or not with objects the better you can fine tune your offering. Designing for the ‘Shape of Things’, presents a robust offering of technologies to inspire marketers and provoke innovators into rethinking their market offerings’ essential qualities.I hope to expand on this more next time-Until then. : ) Dennis

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  1. If you're interested in following the news on 3D Printing and digital fabrication, you might consider reading our blog at Fabbaloo or"

  2. Great article, but I think you missed one of the initiatives that has made big strides in this area: UK-based www.pachube.comThere's already quite a big community around the world of people using Pachube to build the internet of things"" from the bottom up, with projects monitoring energy usage, connecting buildings and Second Life, tracking ships in the ocean, satellites, smart phones, home automation prototypes etc.You might also be interested in this recent article in the New York Times about how issues of privacy affect us in this situation:"