Andrew Lippman on “open-architecture products”

Andrew Lippman of the MIT Media Lab discusses the problems associated with trying to build products that will have appeal for a long time. The alternative? Build architectures that allow people to build their own products.

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Here’s a fascinating, short video clip — just under two minutes long — of Andrew Lippman of the MIT Media Lab discussing the need to develop “open-architecture products” that users can customize.  A few highlights of Lippman’s comments:

  • “The stability that we associated with products is gone. And so if you try to base your business on a product that you think will last a long time, then I suspect you’re likely to be in trouble — because society will change more rapidly.”
  • “The young are not satisfied with products. They’re satisfied with things they can build into their own products. And so the challenge is to build those as open-architecture products.”


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Comments (3)
Martha E. Mangelsdorf
Thanks for your comment, Wade. I passed it on to Professor Lippman, who offers this reply:

ANDREW LIPPMAN, MIT MEDIA LAB: "The recent innovation in product design that is germane to my older  
comment made in the video is the iPhone app store.  Depending on what  
you call the product -- the hardware or its use -- its success is in  
some measure due to its malleability.  I think this is what I was  
getting at.  When the iPhone came out, there were only a few apps and  
most of them were boring.  What is interesting is how many people  
created apps, and how the phone is distinctive by dint of them.   This  
is in some measure an open architecture product, although we could  
quibble about how open it is, especially as compared to an Android.

With respect to Zara, their innovation was in rapid product creation,  
but I don't think they intend that a customer buy clothes as often as  
they change them.  It's very much an app store approach with something  
new for someone far more often than competitors at the time.

The Media Lab is about research on technologies of expression, among  
other things.  It is flattering to think that we demonstrate new ideas  
as rapidly as Zara creates wardrobes, but it  is not directed at  
consumerism or necessarily the developed world."
Consumer as innovator is not as universal as Mr. Lippman suggests in this short video. However, the MIT Media Lab is about fast consumerism in highly developed countries. Mr. Lippman's projects may help develop the media equivalent of Zara's fast-fashion.
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