What are we smithing?

I’ve had a thought running through my head over the last week or so. In a land where code is king, I’m still inexorably drawn to the objects through which the code is experienced, but find it increasingly hard to understand what the objects actually are.

‘Smartphones’ doesn’t even begin to help us understand the function of the object, ‘tablet’ even less so. At a reductive level we’re creating objects to manipulate electricity, which results in the ‘devices’ or ‘tools’ moniker. This is OK but feels a bit deflating, these things are much more than tools. Bleecker suggests that if we landed on an appropriate name  for these things we might actually feel a bit underwhelmed, and he might be right. Perhaps we should leave this subject alone, but it won’t help with the cab driver question: ‘so what exactly do you design?’ We don’t really have a good answer.

If we keep calling the objects ‘phones’ and ‘tablets’ we’ll find it difficult to branch out, and if we keep calling the approach ‘the internet of things’ we’ll never be able to focus.