The idea of making isn't just reserved for handmade bikes, artisan pickles, and Arduino helicopters. The future of making is a product of our human needs and the possibilities we create through technology. This is about a larger shift towards making and the unexpected movements that might occur. It's about how everyone from you to your grandma might design, make and consume products or experiences in the next 10 to 15 years. In this SxSW Interactive session Joi Ito, Director of the MIT Media Lab, and Tim Brown, CEO of IDEO, will host a conversation that considers how we might fashion new tools for the future and then how those tools might influence our lives.
We live in an age of invented, alternate worlds. Tolkien’s Middle-earth, Rowling’s Hogwarts, the dystopic universe of “The Hunger Games,” the places where vampires and zombies prowl: These places are having their day. Yet in spite of the vogue for fantasy fiction, in the finest of literature’s fictional microcosms there is more truth than fantasy. In William Faulkner’s Yoknapatawpha, R. K. Narayan’s Malgudi and, yes, the Macondo of Gabriel García Márquez, imagination is used to enrich reality, not to escape from it.
You've probably seen this already making the rounds online. "This is a generic video" is far from it. What's brilliant about the video is that it was inspired by "This Is a Generic Brand Video," written by Kendra Eash for McSweeney's Internet Tendency. A literary piece making fun of advertisement became a video that looks like it's making fun of ads but it's really an ad for a service for stock footage. So meta it's an Ouroboros.
If you have any doubt that the hashtag is a frighteningly powerful tool in our modern vocabulary, imagine a person you care about texting you that song's title line out of the blue: "You're beautiful." Now think of the same person texting, "You're #beautiful." The second one is jokey, ironic, distant—and hey, maybe that's what that person was going for. But it also hammers home that point that the internet too often asserts: You're not as original as you once thought. "Beautiful" is analog, unquantifiable, one-in-a-million. #Beautiful, on the other hand, is crowded terrain. Ten more people have just tweeted about something or someone #beautiful since you started reading this sentence.
As more and more of our daily interactions become text-based—people preferring texting to phone calls, workplaces that rely heavily email and instant messaging—we're developing ways to stretch our written language so it can communicate more nuance, so we can tell people what we mean without accidentally leading them on or pissing them off. Periods have becomemore forceful, commas less essential, and over the last few years, the hashtag has morphed into something resembling the fabled sarcasm font—the official keystroke of irony. Putting a hashtag in front of something you text, email, or IM to someone is a sly way of saying "I'm joking," or maybe more accurately, "I mean this and I don't at the same time."
The first surprise of learning to program? I actually enjoyed it. Yes, programming is challenging, frustrating and often tedious. But it offers satisfactions that are not unlike those of writing. The elegant loops of logic, the attention to detail, the mission of getting the maximum amount of impact from the fewest possible lines, the feeling of making something engaging from a few wispy, abstract ideas — these challenges were familiar to me as a critic. By my third month, I had internalized a new logic, a different way of looking at information. By the time summer came around, I was learning about good web design by constructing web applications, taking them from simple prototypes to something sophisticated enough to test with users. And by the end of the course, I knew the basic structure of computer operating systems.
Now, I was never going to be a career programmer. Though I got into it with the idea of getting myself out of a financial pinch, it turned out to be unnecessary. I managed to transition from a book critic to a features writer.
But my code year changed me. Whenever I meet someone involved in technology — which is pretty much everyone these days — I have a real understanding of what they’re talking about, whether it’s an I.T. consultant working with a bank trying to exploit the possibilities of Big Data or a biomedical engineer who has created software to more precisely visualize an M.R.I. scan. Knowing some code has made me feel more connected to others in our tech-driven society.