Bruce Sterling

Hugo Award-winning science fiction author and futurist Bruce Sterling has been called by Time "perhaps the sharpest observer of our media-choked culture working today in any genre." Three of his novels have been New York Times Notable Books of the Year, and he has been a contributing writer for Wired since its conception. In 2005 he is "Visionary-in-Residence" at Art Center College of Design, Pasadena. Bruce Sterling's blog Beyond the Beyond has been active since 2003.

  • Shaping Things

    Shaping Things

    Bruce Sterling

    A guide to the next great wave of technology—an era of objects so programmable that they can be regarded as material instantiations of an immaterial system.

    "Shaping Things is about created objects and the environment, which is to say, it's about everything," writes Bruce Sterling in this addition to the Mediawork Pamphlet series. He adds: "Seen from sufficient distance, this is a small topic."

    Sterling offers a brilliant, often hilarious history of shaped things. We have moved from an age of artifacts, made by hand, through complex machines, to the current era of "gizmos." New forms of design and manufacture are appearing that lack historical precedent, he writes; but the production methods, using archaic forms of energy and materials that are finite and toxic, are not sustainable. The future will see a new kind of object; we have the primitive forms of them now in our pockets and briefcases: user-alterable, baroquely multi-featured, and programmable, that will be sustainable, enhanceable, and uniquely identifiable. Sterling coins the term "spime" for them, these future-manufactured objects with informational support so extensive and rich that they are regarded as material instantiations of an immaterial system. Spimes are designed on screens, fabricated by digital means, and precisely tracked through space and time. They are made of substances that can be folded back into the production stream of future spimes, challenging all of us to become involved in their production. Spimes are coming, says Sterling. We will need these objects in order to live; we won't be able to surrender their advantages without awful consequences.

    The vision of Shaping Things is given material form by the intricate design of Lorraine Wild. Shaping Things is for designers and thinkers, engineers and scientists, entrepreneurs and financiers; and anyone who wants to understand and be part of the process of technosocial transformation.

    • Hardcover $45.00
    • Paperback $23.95

Contributor

  • Paid

    Paid

    Tales of Dongles, Checks, and Other Money Stuff

    Bill Maurer and Lana Swartz

    Stories about objects left in the wake of transactions, from cryptocurrencies to leaf-imprinted banknotes to records kept with knotted string.

    Museums are full of the coins, notes, beads, shells, stones, and other objects people have exchanged for millennia. But what about the debris, the things that allow a transaction to take place and are left in its wake? How would a museum go about curating our scrawls on electronic keypads, the receipts wadded in our wallets, that vast information infrastructure that runs the card networks? This book is a catalog for a museum exhibition that never happened. It offers a series of short essays, paired with striking images, on these often ephemeral, invisible, or unnoticed transactional objects—money stuff.

    Although we've been told for years that we're heading toward total cashlessness, payment is increasingly dependent on things. Consider, for example, the dongle, a clever gizmo that processes card payments by turning information from a card's magnetic stripe into audio information that can be read by a smart phone's headphone jack. Or dogecoin, a meme of a smiling, bewildered dog's interior monologue that fueled a virtual currency similar to Bitcoin. Or go further back and contemplate the paper currency printed with leaves by Benjamin Franklin to foil counterfeiters, or khipu, Incan records kept in knotted string.

    Paid's authors describe these payment-adjacent objects so engagingly that for a moment, financial leftovers seem more interesting than finance. Paid encourages us to take a moment to look at the nuts and bolts of our everyday transactions by looking at the stuff that surrounds them.

    Contributors Bernardo Bátiz-Lazo, Maria Bezaitis, Finn Brunton, Lynn H. Gamble, David Graeber, Jane I. Guyer, Keith Hart, Sarah Jeong, Alexandra Lippman, Julien Mailland, Scott Mainwaring, Bill Maurer, Taylor C. Nelms, Rachel O'Dwyer, Michael Palm, Lisa Servon, David L. Stearns, Bruce Sterling, Lana Swartz, Whitney Anne Trettien, Gary Urton

    • Hardcover $27.95
    • Paperback $17.95
  • Sound Unbound

    Sound Unbound

    Sampling Digital Music and Culture

    Paul D. Miller

    The role of sound and digital media in an information-based society: artists—from Steve Reich and Pierre Boulez to Chuck D and Moby—describe their work.

    If Rhythm Science was about the flow of things, Sound Unbound is about the remix—how music, art, and literature have blurred the lines between what an artist can do and what a composer can create. In Sound Unbound, Rhythm Science author Paul Miller aka DJ Spooky that Subliminal Kid asks artists to describe their work and compositional strategies in their own words. These are reports from the front lines on the role of sound and digital media in an information-based society. The topics are as diverse as the contributors: composer Steve Reich offers a memoir of his life with technology, from tape loops to video opera; Miller himself considers sampling and civilization; novelist Jonathan Lethem writes about appropriation and plagiarism; science fiction writer Bruce Sterling looks at dead media; Ron Eglash examines racial signifiers in electrical engineering; media activist Naeem Mohaiemen explores the influence of Islam on hip hop; rapper Chuck D contributes “Three Pieces”; musician Brian Eno explores the sound and history of bells; Hans Ulrich Obrist and Philippe Parreno interview composer-conductor Pierre Boulez; and much more. “Press 'play,'” Miller writes, “and this anthology says 'here goes.'”

    The groundbreaking music that accompanies the book features Nam Jun Paik, the Dada Movement, John Cage, Sonic Youth, and many other examples of avant-garde music. Most of this content comes from the archives of Sub Rosa, a legendary record label that has been the benchmark for archival sounds since the beginnings of electronic music. To receive these free music files, readers may send an email to the address listed in the book.

    Contributors David Allenby, Pierre Boulez, Catherine Corman, Chuck D, Erik Davis, Scott De Lahunta, Manuel DeLanda, Cory Doctorow, Eveline Domnitch, Frances Dyson, Ron Eglash, Brian Eno, Dmitry Gelfand, Dick Hebdige, Lee Hirsch, Vijay Iyer, Ken Jordan, Douglas Kahn, Daphne Keller, Beryl Korot, Jaron Lanier, Joseph Lanza, Jonathan Lethem, Carlo McCormick, Paul D. Miller aka DJ Spooky that Subliminal Kid, Moby, Naeem Mohaiemen, Alondra Nelson, Keith and Mendi Obadike, Hans Ulrich Obrist, Pauline Oliveros, Philippe Parreno, Ibrahim Quaraishi, Steve Reich, Simon Reynolds, Scanner aka Robin Rimbaud, Nadine Robinson, Daniel Bernard Roumain (DBR), Alex Steinweiss, Bruce Sterling, Lucy Walker, Saul Williams, Jeff E. Winner

    • Paperback $38.95