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Spime is a neologism for a futuristic object, characteristic to the Internet of Things, that can be tracked through space and time throughout its lifetime. They are essentially virtual master objects that can, at various times, have physical incarnations of themselves. An object can be considered a spime when all of its essential information is stored in the cloud. Bruce Sterling sees spimes as coming through the convergence of six emerging technologies, related to both the manufacturing process for consumer goods, and through identification and location technologies. Depending on context, the term "spime" can refer to both—the archetype, as designed by the developer, or a user-specific instance of it.
The term spime was coined for this concept by author Bruce Sterling. It is a contraction of “space” and “time” which derives from his thought of a spime being an “object precisely localized in time and space [...] always associated with a history.” The term was probably first used in a large public forum by Sterling at SIGGRAPH Los Angeles, August 2004. The idea was further expanded upon in his book Shaping Things. Later on the term has been adopted by industry pioneers world-wide.
The six facets of spimes are:
- Small, inexpensive means of remotely and uniquely identifying objects over short ranges; for example radio-frequency identification.
- A mechanism to precisely locate something on Earth, such as a global-positioning system.
- A way to mine large amounts of data for things that match some given criteria, like internet search engines.
- Tools to virtually construct nearly any kind of object; computer-aided design.
- Ways to rapidly prototype virtual objects into real ones. Sophisticated, automated fabrication of a specification for an object, through “three-dimensional printers.”
- "Cradle-to-cradle" life-spans for objects. Cheap, effective recycling.
With all six of these, one could track the entire existence of an object, from before it was made (its virtual representation), through its manufacture, its ownership history, its physical location, until its eventual obsolescence and breaking-down back into raw material to be used for new instantiations of objects. If recorded, the lifetime of the object can be archived, and searched for.
Spimes are not defined merely by these six technologies; it is, rather, that if these technologies converge within the manufacturing process (CAD and automated manufacturing are already in wide use in the manufacture of many things today; RFIDs are becoming more and more prevalent in consumer goods) then spimes could indeed arise.
- Internet of Things
- Semantic Web
- Ambient intelligence
- Big data
- Web 2.0
- Cradle-to-cradle design
- Augmented reality
- Thomas, Sue (2006). "The End of Cyberspace and Other Surprises" (PDF). Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies. Retrieved June 3, 2014.
- Sterling, Bruce (2005). Shaping Things. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press. ISBN 0-262-69326-7. Retrieved June 3, 2014.
A SPIME is, by definition, the protagonist of a documented process. It is an historical entity with an accessible, precise trajectory through space and time.
- Maciag, Timothy; Daryl H. Hepting (2010). "Constructing Collaborative Online Communities for Visualizing Spimes" (PDF). 2010 IEEE/WIC/ACM International Conference on Web Intelligence and Intelligent Agent Technology. Retrieved June 3, 2014.
- Sterling, Bruce (August 2004). When Blobjects Rule the Earth (Speech). SIGGRAPH, Los Angeles. Retrieved June 3, 2014.
- Pelet, Jean-Eric; Benoît Lecat; Panagiota Papadopoulou (2011). "Enhancing learning and cooperatio n through digital virtual worlds" (PDF). IPEDR vol.18. Retrieved June 3, 2014.
- Bruce Sterling's talk “Shaping of Things to Come”, given on December 13, 2004 at the Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich.
- Bruce Sterling's talk - Lift Conference, Sept 12, 2007. 12 minutes.
- The Internet of Things: What is a Spime and why is it useful?, given on Google Tech Talks April 30, 2007. 49 min 5 sec