Computational Design


Published: January 1, 1996
Publisher: MIT Press
ISBN: 026263189X

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Abstracting Craft: The Practiced Digital Hand

Abstracting Craft is a cult classic on reflective practice in digital form-giving. It made the rounds of Tribeca during the dotcom age, and has been read across a strange range of disciplines from jewelers to web strategists to robotic fabricators. As a philosophical work, this book remains of interest years later in a field known for overnight change, and has been seen to fetch absurd prices for rare copies on Amazon. This book began as testimony to the craft practices emerging around digital design media in the early 90s. It was organized as an investigation into the relationship between tool, medium, interface, and practice. For the then-young field of interaction design, this book was among the first to give voice to themes of playful creative discovery, the personal worth of work, or even the basic idea that information technology is not just for task automation. In many ways, Abstracting Craft began as a protest against the still positivistic tone in design computing research twenty years ago. Today it still resonates for postindustrial artisans, for whom the means of production are again affordable, and for whom the distinction between composing in abstract notation and coaxing a tangible medium has disappeared. Written in the conversational style of an art critic, artisan, or interface builder, but beginning the scholarly probe into embodied cognition that continues in later work, this book was not what anyone expected.


Malcolm McCullough