frog's latest DesignMind newsletter dropped this afternoon, and though we haven't yet read it all, we did get an "advance copy" of Mark Rolston's excellent essay with the great big title title, Defining The New Singularity. Exploring the next level of convergence: between hardware and software, information and object, human and technology. Whoa. That's promising a lot, and Rolston, who's SVP of Creative at frog, has delivered a lot. Our favorite parts are where he discusses the merits and mandates of design on a more philosophical level, but the piece also rocks some UI jargon with the best of 'em. Very tough to pick individual highlights on this one, but here's a choice bit to pin up on your wall:
As the writer Bruce Sterling puts it, borrowing a bit from Baudrillard and applying it to design, we are now approaching an age of technological advancement when "there is more stored in the map than there is in the territory." Put more simply, the story surrounding a given "thing," a product or service we buy and use, is rapidly exceeding the value of the thing itself. The identity of a product can no longer be easily defined through its form factor, but rather by the information that encases it, passes through it, and is accumulated by it over the course of its lifetime. The notion of this emerging product universe covers far more than we are used to considering in the creative equation: the form, the means of production, the business built around it, the social implications of its existence, the ecological impact of its creation, the object's role in a system of multiple devices, the social community developed to manage, discuss, and enjoy the object at hand. Sterling calls this new modern thing a "spime"--and it has massive implications for design.
There is a second effect at play as well: As the conceptual scope of our work expands, the design artifact, the object itself, must assume new value as identifying symbol. This is the irony of the situation: while the object itself has become less dominant in the overall product story, it assumes new importance as the icon for this much larger set of relationships. Human nature will always seek a focal point--a singularity--to recognize, capture, and associate with the greater notions at hand. No matter the complexity of the relationship, it is always the artifact, with its physical or digital touchpoints, that attracts us first.
I know that we already told you to stop what you're doing and check this out earlier today, but if you're not into cookies, maybe you'd care for this big juicy hunk of steak.