Blobject

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= a computer-designed object with curves ?

Description

Bruce Sterling:

"A Blobject is commonly defined as "an object with a curvilinear, flowing design, such as the Apple iMac computer and the Volkswagen Beetle." But computers and cars are just end products, they're not the process. The truth about a blobject is that is a physical object that has suffered a remake through computer graphics. It was designed on a screen with a graphics program. A blobject is what a standard 20th century industrial product, a consumer item, looks like after your crowd has beaten it into shape with a mouse.

Blobjects are blob-shaped objects, because of NURBS and meshes and splines and injection molding and CAD-CAM. They're highly curvilinear consumer items designed on workstations, and then they're generally blasted into being in a burst of injection-molded goo.

Blobjects are the period objects of our time. They are the physical products that the digital revolution brought to the consumer shelf.

Blobjects were impossible until the early 1990s. Then they got cheap. Nowadays they're commodities. Our contemporary world is absolutely littered with these things, these blobjects. Blobjects are so entirely common now that they are passe' and showing their age. I'm wearing three blobjects right now, and I've got two more stuffed in my pockets. Not that you need to notice. You can offshore a blobject in distant Taiwan for a seven percent return on investment. Blobjects have become the cheap and easy way to make stuff. Blobjects are as common as dirt." (http://www.boingboing.net/images/blobjects.htm)


Discussion

Blobjects as Gizmo's

Bruce Sterling:

1.

"In my grand vision, there's a history of the relationship of objects and human beings. It goes like this. Up to the present day, during previous history, we humans have had. and made, four different classes of possible objects. These classes of objects are called, in order of their historical appearance, Artifacts, Machines, Products, and Gizmos.

The lines between Artifacts, Machines, Products and Gizmos aren't mechanical. They're historical. The differences between them are found in the material cultures they make possible. The kind of society they produce, and the kind of human being that is necessary to make them and use them.

Artifacts are made and used by hunter-gatherers and subsistence farmers.

Machines are made and used by customers. in an industrial society.

Products are made and used by consumers, in a military-industrial complex.

While Gizmos are made and used by end-users, in whatever today is == a "New World Disorder," a "Terrorism-Entertainment Complex," our own brief interregnum.

Blobjects tend to be a subset of the class of Gizmos. Not all blobjects are Gizmos, but most gizmos have insane amounts of functionality in them, and they are designed on computers." (http://www.boingboing.net/images/blobjects.htm)


2.

"A Gizmo is not manufacturable by any centrally planned society. A Gizmo is something like a Product, but instead of behaving predictably and sensibly for a mass market of obedient consumers, a Gizmo is an open-ended tech development project.

In a Gizmo, development has been deputized to end-users.

End-Users, who are people like practically everybody in this audience, do a great deal of unpaid pro bono work in developing Gizmos. The true signs of a Gizmo are that it has a short lifespan and more functionality crammed into it than you will ever use or understand. A Gizmo is like a Product that has swallowed a big chunk of the previous society, and contains that within the help center and the instruction manual.

A Gizmo, unlike a Machine or a Product, is not efficient. A Gizmo has bizarre, baroque, and even crazy amounts of functionality. This Treo that I'm carrying here, this is a classic Gizmo: It's a cellphone, a web browser, an SMS platform, an MMS platform, a really bad camera, and an abysmal typewriter, plus a notepad, a sketchpad, a calendar, a diary, a clock, a music player, and an education system with its own onboard tutorial that nobody ever reads. Plus I can plug extra, even more complicated stuff into it, if I take a notion. It's not a Machine or a Product, because it's not a stand-alone device. It is a platform, a playground for other developers. It's a dessert topping, and it's a floor wax.

Now, I could redesign this Gizmo to make it into a simple Product.

But then this Gizmo would become a commodity. There would be little profit in that; in an end-user society like ours, Products come in bubblepak or shrinkwrap in big heaps, like pencils. There is no money in them.

So there are good reasons why a Gizmo is almost impossible to use.

It's because a Gizmo is delicately poised between commodity and chaos.

It is trying to cram as much impossible complexity as it can, into an almost usable state. It is leaning forward into the future.

This is what our society does for a living now." (http://www.boingboing.net/images/blobjects.htm)