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Where Stuff Comes from: How Toasters, Toilets, Cars, Computers and Many Other Things Come to Be as They Are

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Molotch takes us on a fascinating exploration into the worlds of technology, design, corporate and popular culture. We now see how corporations, designers, retailers, advertisers, and other middle-men influence what a thing can be and how it is made. We see the way goods link into ordinary life as well as vast systems of consumption, economic and political operation. The b Molotch takes us on a fascinating exploration into the worlds of technology, design, corporate and popular culture. We now see how corporations, designers, retailers, advertisers, and other middle-men influence what a thing can be and how it is made. We see the way goods link into ordinary life as well as vast systems of consumption, economic and political operation. The book is a meditation into the meaning of the stuff in our lives and what that stuff says about us.


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Molotch takes us on a fascinating exploration into the worlds of technology, design, corporate and popular culture. We now see how corporations, designers, retailers, advertisers, and other middle-men influence what a thing can be and how it is made. We see the way goods link into ordinary life as well as vast systems of consumption, economic and political operation. The b Molotch takes us on a fascinating exploration into the worlds of technology, design, corporate and popular culture. We now see how corporations, designers, retailers, advertisers, and other middle-men influence what a thing can be and how it is made. We see the way goods link into ordinary life as well as vast systems of consumption, economic and political operation. The book is a meditation into the meaning of the stuff in our lives and what that stuff says about us.

30 review for Where Stuff Comes from: How Toasters, Toilets, Cars, Computers and Many Other Things Come to Be as They Are

  1. 5 out of 5

    dejah_thoris

    Another split review. If you're looking for a solid explanation that includes both design and the lash-ups or infrastructure needed to support innovation this is an excellent overview. If you've read quite a bit about industrial design already, most of this will be review. Yes, it's great to see all these explanations in one volume, but I found myself nodding along with most of the book instead of enjoying new ideas. The references are slightly dated (12 years old) but most are still memorable ( Another split review. If you're looking for a solid explanation that includes both design and the lash-ups or infrastructure needed to support innovation this is an excellent overview. If you've read quite a bit about industrial design already, most of this will be review. Yes, it's great to see all these explanations in one volume, but I found myself nodding along with most of the book instead of enjoying new ideas. The references are slightly dated (12 years old) but most are still memorable (e.g. iMacs) although future forecasting is problematic because this book was written before the heavy corporate leveraging of social media we know today. Overall, a great book for the novice interested in the limits bounding innovation but nothing revealing for a regular reader of product or industrial design classics.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer (JC-S)

    ‘For any product, form and function are always bound up.’ The everyday objects of our lives, and where they come from, are the subject of this book. How do items such as paper clips, post-it notes and bathtubs come into being? What factors influence design, and why do we (many of us, anyway) want this stuff? I found this book fascinating. Some items of ‘stuff’ – such as toys and lamps change relatively quickly in response to fashion. Some other items – such as pencils and toilets - do not. The inf ‘For any product, form and function are always bound up.’ The everyday objects of our lives, and where they come from, are the subject of this book. How do items such as paper clips, post-it notes and bathtubs come into being? What factors influence design, and why do we (many of us, anyway) want this stuff? I found this book fascinating. Some items of ‘stuff’ – such as toys and lamps change relatively quickly in response to fashion. Some other items – such as pencils and toilets - do not. The influences on change seem to vary, depending on the item. Take, for example, the chair. Chairs are not universally used around the world; many people squat, sit cross-legged or sit flat on the ground. But where chairs are used, we actively train our children how to use them ‘properly’. And as a consequence, for many of us: ‘Chairs have become part of the methodology of respect and rectitude.’ The design of chairs has changed, and while there is some contrast between the utilitarian and the artistic, the distinction is often blurred. It’s interesting to consider some of the cultural and other factors that influence design, as well as the functionality that mirrors contemporary life. There are plenty of examples including the garlic press; the Palm Pilot; and the Chrysler PT Cruiser. And there are items that could be different: the computer keyboard (which evolved from the typewriter) for example, or the conventional western toilet which could be modified to accommodate squatting but isn’t. Why things are the way they are and what factors influence this makes for very interesting reading. The linkages between items are interesting to consider: the toaster (to give one example) did not develop in isolation. Toasters require a source of power (a power outlet), a place to sit (a benchtop) as well as bread sliced to a particular width and toppings (Vegemite for this Australian). While this book primarily discusses what is rather than what might be, it’s possible that an awareness of the politics of design could result in more environmentally friendly products. Who influences whom, and how? Jennifer Cameron-Smith

  3. 5 out of 5

    Aaron Garrido

    Lost steam at the end with ambivalent regulation commentary, but piques curiosity.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Kathleen Hulser

  5. 4 out of 5

    Elvis Plant

  6. 4 out of 5

    Nemo

  7. 5 out of 5

    Reed

  8. 5 out of 5

    Lucija Perko

  9. 4 out of 5

    Sean Yeoh

  10. 4 out of 5

    Andrew Stubbings

  11. 4 out of 5

    David J Choi

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jessica Matias

  14. 4 out of 5

    Rose

  15. 5 out of 5

    Tamsin Wolff

  16. 4 out of 5

    Nazar

  17. 4 out of 5

    Judith Donath

  18. 4 out of 5

    John

  19. 4 out of 5

    Fabio Nucatolo

  20. 5 out of 5

    Mr Stephen Thomas

  21. 4 out of 5

    Miriana Giai Gischia

  22. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

  23. 5 out of 5

    John

  24. 4 out of 5

    Blake

  25. 5 out of 5

    Kristin D'urso

  26. 4 out of 5

    Alan

  27. 5 out of 5

    Natasha

  28. 5 out of 5

    Laura Norén

  29. 4 out of 5

    T.R. Flockhart

  30. 5 out of 5

    Brent

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