When atoms meet bits (LIFT 09 talk summary)

I'm going to be speaking at LIFT France 09 later this week. The talk is an intro to presentations by Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino of tinker.it and Michael Shiloh. I'll post the actual talk when it's done.

Here's the summary:

According to Lawrence Lessig, the 20th century is a brief period of Read-Only culture in a world that in the past has been Read-Write. He draws his examples from media, but the same ideas apply to other products. The definitions of "producer" and "consumer" change when information is cheaper to move than objects. Thus production becomes less centralized as knowledge is shared in an open and standardized way.

Modern digital tools for making things bring the flexibility of digital media to the creation of everyday physical objects. This change powerfully challenges 20th century manufacturing processes that depended on centralizing knowledge while transporting products cheaply. Today, atoms are getting more expensive to move, while bits are getting ever cheaper. Read-Write culture is returning to the processes of making things, bringing the end of Read-Only objects.

It's a short talk, so I'm not going to talk about the relationship between lightweight data-driven manufacturing and ubiquitous computing, but for me there's a direct correspondence. "Everyday object + information processing + networking = something new" (in simplified ubicomp math) is a superset of "tool + information processing + networking = a new tool." The products of those tools don't have to be digital objects, but the fact that the tools are digital profoundly changes the capabilities of those tools to create objects. When those (digital tool-made) objects then have embedded information processing and networking themselves--as now is increasingly happening--that changes the nature of the further object still.

Oh, and thanks to Liz for her thoughts and editing of my summary...she will also be at LIFT, sharing the stage with John Thackara and speaking about urban green spaces in a talk that has evolved from her ETech presentation earlier this year.

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This page contains a single entry by Mike Kuniavsky published on June 15, 2009 1:40 PM.

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