The premise struck me because it sounded so familiar, finding objects in space and time using some sort of smart system that would allow us to sit down and search for, say, a book. Sound familiar to you as well? Of course, Sterling is refering to barcodes and RFID chips, not the Dewey Decimal System, but I’m pretty sure my library full of carefully cataloged and placed items that are findable in space using an ancient systems of subject headings written on cards must somehow inform the concept of a spime.
According to Sterling:
“I have an Internet-of-Things with a search engine of things. So I no longer hunt anxiously for my missing shoes in the morning. I just Google them. As long as machines can crunch the complexities, their interfaces make my relationship to objects feel much simpler and more immediate. I am at ease in materiality in a way that people never were before.”
Making things findable in space and time is the goal of a good catalog. We have as much to learn from Sterling as he does from us. How do we make things findable in space and time, rather than just in the catalog? How can we make the finding process more like, say, Google? Is the focus on social software ignoring the need to make using the library the old fashioned way, helping people get books off the shelf, easier?
The transcript of the speech