Copyleft Architecure Project ID: D_055

03 Mass There Customizes Product Here

In 1913 Einstein wrote a letter to Ernst Mach thanking him for an idea of his that einstein used to help formulate his General Theory of Relativity. As he progressed through these radical explanations of space, time, mass, energy and intertia he acknolowdged Mach for his description of inertia in that "mass there influences inertia here." Einstein coined this Mach's Principle. As simple as this statement looks, this is the foundation for one of the most impressive and vast theories in modern physics. Our understanding of modern physics has yet to push much beyond the point Einstein took us nearly 100 years ago.

Likewise, the implication of the new global, networked economy and developments within marketing, management and fabrication has sparked a progressive response challenging the industry of mass production that will shape itself over the next century. At the moiment we are seeing industries push for a new form of production called mass customization. The industry of mass customisation has been experimenting with new ways to easily and cheaply alter a product or service to fit the unique needs of each customer.

When read one way mass customization sounds like a complete contradiction. A combination of words as mismatched together as forced choice. And thats not too far from what the ecomony of mass customization offers conumers today, the illusion of choice. Or we can interpret mass to be read as it was by Ortega y Gasset in The Revolt of the Masses. And thats the situation we have before us, but this time the masses will be fighting against the status quo. Technology, if allowed can be used to help the masses fight the cultivation of mass culture. It is from this understanding of mass customization that the proprietary transparency begins to take hold. Via the Internet and other file-sharing applications, a single house design can be easily disemminated to hunderds of potential home buyers. Each of these home buyers can then modify and customize the plans to meet their own needs. They can do this on their own or they could hire a contractor to modify the files for them. The house will be cutomized in mass and by people from all over the world, produced, modified and redistributed time and time again.

It is from this type of interaction that the power of todays technology can allow for customization en masse. Through decentarlized means and a little letting go on behalf of the author, a single idea can be spread with mutations and all to more people today then ever. Mass there customizes product here.

Project's Creative Evolution - From Mass Customization to Proprietray Transparency
This project began by researching and brainstorming how an interface for a design engine would allow users with little or no design knowledge to design (freely choose) their own home. How form "follows software" could be used to benefit the naive user. After looking over a project with similar intentions and upon reading Wes Jones' article "Loose Modularity" in Praxis 3, the project was inspired to re-focus its goals. Jones' shared a view of of mass-customization through "continuous diffrerentiation" which led the user down the path of an "illusion of choice" by placing all sorts of contraints and rules on the modifed home. Thus the search for true choice began. This battle cry for true choice began to sound vaguely familiar to an argument thats been discussed in the computer world for the many years now -- Free Software/Open Source developement.