Atkinson, Paul (2004) Post Industrial Manufacturing Systems: The impact of emerging technologies on design, craft and engineering processes. In: Challenging Craft, 8-10 Sptember 2004, Gray's School of Art, Aberdeen.

In a keynote speech at the recent Siggraph 04 conference in Los Angeles, the science fiction author Bruce Sterling explored the topic of ‘When Blobjects rule the world’ and spoke eloquently about the way technology was poised to take society as products themselves changed. He said that up to this point in history there had been four classes of objects: Artefacts - simple products produced by hand; Machines - complex mass produced objects; Products – bought and owned by consumers; and Gizmos – highly functional but short lived technological objects. He posited that as we have moved from one class of object to another, our relationship with objects has changed, that different material cultures have produced and been produced by different classes of objects. It is a truism to say that the mode of production and even the mode of retailing affect the relationship we have to objects.

He also speculated that new production technologies will mean a far higher level of consumer involvement in specifying the end product, and that that involvement means that consumers will become participants in the production cycle rather than mere consumers of products.

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