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Showing posts from February, 2006

Why Things Break

In the book "Why Things Break -- understanding the world by the way it comes apart", the author Mark E. Eberhart tells the story about how he became obsessed with the search for why things break. He is a professor of chemistry and geochemistry with a strong interest in material sciences. Eberhart makes the difference between the questions "when things break" and "why things break". We have always known when things break, at least more or less. People have figured out how much a rock or a copper sword can take. We can measure this by trying over and over again with different weights or forces. But this does not tell us "why" they break.

The book gives many interesting examples of the history of materials and how humans have learnt to use these materials, such as stone and later on bronze and iron. I like the way he describes the intimate relation between humans and their materials. It is clear from his way of telling history that knowledge about t…

Expanding the Design Space

To continue a theme on this blog -- a really good example of the importance of material in design is to be found in the field of cameras. In an article on CNET this is shown clearly. The article is about how our understanding of what a camera is and how it looks and how it is used, is challenged. And the cause is of course that new cameras use digital material as carrier of content. The article mention several examples of how the change of material transform a whole industry.

For instance, when a camera offer wireless networking, the notion of a camera changes. Maybe it is not a tool for capturing a place in time, instead maybe it is a tool that connects two places in real time -- whatever that means.

So, the camera article shows that the change of material really expands the space of possible designs. We are not witnessing any kind of stabilizing of products or services in the field of digital technology, instead we are only in the very beginning and the design space is still growing r…

60 second TV series episodes

The TV networks are struggling to find ways to adapt to the new digital reality. One of the newest initiatives by CBS is to launch a TV-series with 60 second episodes! The idea is that short episodes fits the new distribution channels like iPods and cell phones. This is of course an attempt to experiment with the digital material. The networks understand that when their content transforms into being carried by digital material, it is not only a change of some underlying technology. It is a fundamental change. It is a new material that changes everything, in this case even how the content is created and formatted. It also changes how the content is written and directed. It even changes the basic rules and principles in dramaturgy and story telling.

The transformation to digital material will not only change the way people interact with the content, but also the way they appreciate and distinguish good quality from bad. This will of course have impact on the way content will be presented…