The New Ecology of Things (NET)

AUTHOR: Phil Van Allen

What happens when every object and space has a life of its own? That’s the question taken up by The New Ecology of Things (NET). In an era of ubiquitous computing, The New Ecology of Things provides a framework for addressing the complex challenges of a world of networked, computational things. The call for interesting ideas in the realm of pervasive computing is frequently directed at designers. The New Ecology of Things answers that call by going beyond the limited vision of ‘smart things that think for you’ and moving toward the design of meaningful interactions that make the most of our very human experience in the world.

The New Ecology of Things is more than a book, however. It is the physical portal to a transmedia publication that includes essays, a glossary, forums, interactive works, video and a provocative story by postcyberpunk author Bruce Sterling. The NET book interconnects with cell phone content and a Web site; further, its jacket turns into a poster which in turn connects to videos. Each part, then, relates to others: place the book on the poster to see additional imagery; point a cell phone camera at barcodes on the poster and watch videos; browse URLs in the book and find and contribute more content on the Web site (newecologyofthings dot net).

The NET publication embraces and embodies new forms of reading and writing by speaking across multiple media forms.

NET grew from an interdisciplinary studio run by the groundbreaking graduate Media Design Program (MDP) at Art Center College of Design in California. Through design and writing experiments, NET has evolved into a conceptual model for thinking about design and its relationship to the emergent ecologies of pervasive networked technologies. The publication is a must-read/see/experience for designers, educators, engineers, entrepreneurs, social scientists, internet activists and anyone interested in the future of computation, interaction and communication.

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