Viridian Note 00418:
Notes from High Ground
- Key concepts
- High Ground Design Conversation,
Colorado, Tucker Viemeister, spimes
Attention Conservation Notice:
- I was in Colorado at
this event, and discussing a book that I'm writing on
design. Okay, it's a big pamphlet. But it will have
some new ideas in it.
Oh man, that is just so beautiful. Have a look!
Tell all your friends.
Oops! No more London. Thanks, Esso!
Protesting in the streets this fine political season?
Try not to drop dead of the heat!
This must be a mighty fine design gig if it's got
Natalie Jeremijenko and Rafael Lozano-Hemmer involved.
- Tucker Viemeister, industrial designer
"I've just returned from the latest annual High Ground
gathering at the McCoy's. (((Same here, and boy did
I enjoy that.)))
"Many of my friends and colleagues ask me what
happens there. Basically about 10 = 20 designers
and educators meet at the McCoy's Colorado mountain
retreat to make informal presentations and have
discussions on a wide range of design ideas. I had
to skip last year's – and I really needed it!
"It was refreshing after IDSA's totally business
focused summit in La Conner, to have a frank discussion
that did not revolve around business issues
(i.e. 'how to get rich').
"This year's group: Kathy and Mike McCoy, Jamer Hunt,
Lorraine Wild, Prasad Boradkar, Rafael Fajardo,
Louise Sandhaus, Andrew Blauvelt, Steve Wilcox,
Melody Roberts, Susan Yelavich, Bruce Sterling,
Paul Rothstein, Fred Murrell, Scott Klinker... and
now we will always missed one of the regulars,
John Rheinfrank. (((Just google them. Man!)))
"Here, in my misquoted nutshell, are some of the
ideas we batted around:
"Jamer Hunt put aside the kittens and puppies,
with his talk entitled 'Designing the Handbasket.'
"Change vs. preservation drove Andrew Blauvelt's
'rant' about the suburbs and the shabby new corporate
identities of NWA and UPS.
"Lorraine Wild lamented design blogs.
"Prasad Boradkar and Louise Sandhaus presented their
book proposals (one called 'A Very Strange Thing'
and the other about California graphics).
"Scott Klinker told us about how he is using
narratives to create products that tell stories.
Aristotle (who wasn't there) said that 'poetry
is more accurate way of understanding than science.'
"Kathy McCoy discussed the conflicts of universal vs.
audience-specific language and how we are headed for
the global village of consumption.
"Steve Wilcox recounted his trip into Africa
wondering how design can help support delicate
"Rafael Fajardo told about how he subverts video
games into social commentary. (((And he wasn't
"Melody Roberts of course was searching for ways
to break the cycle of consumption through services
like Banana Republic turning into a clothes-laundering
and lending place.
"Fred Murrell wants to figure out better ways to deal with the crazy mess people encounter when they go to the emergency room for the last time.
"Susan Yelavich looked at the deep dissatisfaction of smart babies and dumb adults toward hobby kits and
health spas. A re-appreciation of the time it
takes to makes fine stuff – 'snobjects' as Bruce
Sterling calls them.
"Mike McCoy was looking to slow things down, maybe the ergonomics of difficulties and
inefficiencies – basically it's not about winning,
but how you play the game.
"Paul Rothstein described his Innovation Space at Arizona State. "Bruce railed that 'we can't go on like this –
it's going to crash! The world is getting top-heavy
with old people [which is good since we have
experience]. The weird have to turn pro. There are
no 20th century equivalents, there is no artificial
ceiling. We have to cut our losses. Quit kissing
the feet of Business Week – make stuff that works.'
"Although I tried to sum it all up into the single
word: 'truth,' it seemed like everything we talked
about revolved around Time. Three issues defined
"1. stories and preserving things (catching time)
"2. death, or at least the 'experiences' around it
and mortality (end of time)
"3. 'Spimes' Bruce Sterling's new definition of
products that are not ends-in-themselves, but
'stalls in the products stream, they don't stand
alone, and are even easily recycled into the next
(((Yes, "spimes." With a pressing need for a
neologism, to describe the next logical development
in the historical arc of "artifacts," "machines,"
"products," and "gizmos," I spontaneously invented
the word "spime" at High Ground 2004. Since that
seemed to go over pretty well, I will be venting
my sentiments on the subject of "spimes" in much
detail, when I keynote SIGGRAPH in a few weeks.
The address is entitled "When Blobjects Rule the
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PLEASE SPIME ME NOW
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