Friday, November 7, 2008

The provenance and movement of goods in the modern (and, yes, flat) world.

Goods have traversed the globe for centuries, but never at the pace, volume, and complexity that they do today - much of the reason why it is so difficult (impossible?) to accurately calculate carbon footprint. I should read The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy, if I want to proceed with this idea.

I am very interested in the 'life' of products - not only trying to design for long life (endurance or anti-obsolescence), but also the extraordinary tale of history, knowledge, and capability that each product tells. Getting an item from the thrift store, for example, is always interesting because often there is some evidence of where or when it was made. But the mystery of how it got to that place, where it has been, and how it has affected the people it's come into contact with is largely unknown. Each thing has a unique story, and more often than not, little of that story is known. When more is known, like some of the items on "Antiques Roadshow," it often makes for a very compelling narrative.

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