The Long History of Prototypes.
Contribution to Prototyping Prototyping, Limn, Issue 0, edited by Christopher M. Kelty, pre-publication to conference: Prototyping Cultures, organized by Adolfo Corsín Jiménez and Adolfo Estalella. Madrid 2010.
extended journal article version to come later.
A video of my talk is here, in case you want to see me.
“Prototyping” has always existed and probably, for most of human history, has been more important than it’s opposite, orderly science and planning. But the differentiation of the functional system of science and art and the strong differentiation between experts and lay people in high modernity has obscured existing forms of prototyping. Only since the late 1960ies, as part of the “revolt of the audience” as Jürgen Gerhards has called it (Gerhards 2001), has it become possible to acknowledge prototyping as part of western society.
Such a claim rests on a notion of prototyping as laid out in the description of the conference: prototyping is not simply understood as the development of “first forms” or “first strikes” as beta-versions of products as in industrial design, but as a more general mode of doing culture: a mode that is tentative, based on bricolage, user involvement and ongoing change and improvements of products and practices, as “open innovation”, rather than on an expert in a closed lab who turns out a finished product to be used by a unknowing user.