Rob Walker on "Dedigitization"

 Media Images R.Walker.3 525

Supersharp design/culture critic Rob Walker, author of Buying In (and also last year's profile of BB in Fast Company), is now writing regularly for the excellent Design Observer site. His first piece is titled "Dedigitization," about iconic digital "things" that have become physicalized. From Design Observer:

 Media Images R.Walker.2 525

The specific instances that got me onto this were the Emoticon Ring and the Cursor Pin (both via Book of Joe). The ring is from a collection called “Signs,” by Chao & Eero Jewel in Finland, which aims to respond to and embody digital communication and connection. The cursor pin (designed by Melle Hamer) was evidently inspired by watching a television show on a Mac, and noticing the cursor arrow ending up, by chance, resembling a pin on some character in the program...

On a purely visual level, none of these shapes strike me as intrinsically beautiful or even pleasing, so what’s the appeal? There’s something jokey about bringing a cursor arrow, emoticon, or the all-powerful “like” symbol into the physical world. But there’s something else going on here too, and it’s not the opposite of immaterialism at all. Rather, it’s the inevitable flipside of the same phenomenon. Because like all jokes, these contain a truth: a de facto acknowledgement that the border between the worlds often called “virtual” and “real” is extremely porous.