All posts filed under “Invention

Interview with Sir Clive

Interview with Sir Clive

Chris Vallance of Radio 4’s excellent iPM has done a thoughtful interview with Sir Clive Sinclair, ranging across many subjects, from personal flying machines to the Asus Eee, and touching on the subject of consumer understanding of technology, and the degree to which the public […]

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Some thoughts on classifications

Some thoughts on classifications

Over the last couple of years, this site has examined, mentioned, discussed or suggested around 250 examples of ‘control’ features or methods designed into products, systems and environments – many of which have come from readers’ suggestions and comments on earlier posts. I’d resisted classifying […]

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Plug: Wilson Brothers’ blog

Plug: Wilson Brothers’ blog

Bit of a design-related plug: London designer/maker Ben Wilson (with whom I’m currently working on a project for Sir Clive Sinclair) and his brothers, Oscar and Luke, have just launched their own collaborative photo blog, which I helped set up using WordPress.com, a mildly modified […]

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Friday quote: Precedents (the flipside)

Friday quote: Precedents (the flipside)

As a flipside, perhaps, to the quote on precedents from a couple of weeks ago: If there is something really cool, and you can’t understand why somebody hasn’t done it before, it’s because you haven’t done it yourself. (From Lion Kimbro‘s fascinating How to Make […]

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Shaping behaviour: Part 2

Shaping behaviour: Part 2

Speedometer, rev counter and fuel and temperature gauges on the dashboard of my 1992 Reliant Scimitar SST. Photo taken on B1098 alongside Sixteen Foot Drain, Isle of Ely, England. In part 1 of ‘Shaping behaviour’, we took a look at ‘sticks and carrots’ as approaches […]

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Limiting frequency of cigarette use

Limiting frequency of cigarette use

 Images from nicostopper.com and Popgadget Nicostopper is an electronic dispenser which holds up to 10 cigarettes, and releases them one at a time at programmed intervals, to help pace and restrict the smoker. The screen “will also flash “self-help” messages each time to make you […]

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Review: Made to Break by Giles Slade

Review: Made to Break by Giles Slade

Last month I mentioned some fascinating details on planned obsolescence gleaned from a review of Giles Slade‘s Made to Break: Technology and Obsolescence in America. Having now read the book for myself, here’s my review, including noteworthy ‘architectures of control’ examples and pertinent commentary. Slade […]

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Speed control designed to help the user

Speed control designed to help the user

Something with an interesting ‘forcing function’ story has been right in front of me all this time: the QWERTY keyboard, developed by Christopher Sholes and then Remington, with the intention of controlling the user’s behaviour. Until typists became proficient with the QWERTY system, the non-alphabetical […]

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Designed to control rather than enable

Designed to control rather than enable

As Cory Doctorow says, “Your home and life are increasingly full of devices that seek to control, rather than enable you.” That, succinctly, is what this website’s about: design as something to restrict and control the user, rather than empower and enable. Products that enable […]

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Uninnovate – engineering products to do less

Uninnovate – engineering products to do less

Image from uninnovate.com I’ve just come across a very interesting new blog, uninnovate.com, which focuses on the phenomenon of “engineering expensive features into a product for which there is no market demand in order to make the product do less.” The first few posts tackle […]

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Transcranial magnetic stimulation

Transcranial magnetic stimulation

An image from Hendricus Loos’s 2001 US patent, ‘Remote Magnetic Manipulation of Nervous Systems’ In my review of Adam Greenfield‘s Everyware a couple of months ago, I mentioned – briefly – the work of Hendricus Loos, whose series of patents cover subjects including “Manipulation of […]

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Some interesting aspects of built-in obsolescence

Some interesting aspects of built-in obsolescence

This San Francisco Chronicle review of Giles Slade’s Made to Break: Technology and Obsolescence in America (which I’ve just ordered and look forward to reading and reviewing here in due course) mentions some interesting aspects of built-in (planned) obsolescence – and planned failure – in […]

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The Privacy Ceiling

The Privacy Ceiling

Scott Craver of the University of Binghamton has a very interesting post summarising the concept of a ‘privacy ceiling’: “This is an economic limit on privacy violation by companies, owing to the liability of having too much information about (or control over) users.” It’s the […]

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