The Spime Arrives

The Spime Arrives is a text by Bruce Sterling. It is part of the Blowup Reader The Era of Objects.

(For an illustrated version, please download the complete PDF of the Era of Objects Reader.)

Wilma, a shopper.
Ted, shopper’s spouse.

Frame one: a screen. The  clicking of a keyboard, mousing sounds: scanning a menu full of arcane-looking but graphically brilliant spime symbols and icons. Wilma: “Ted!  Get in here! I just found our new chair!  It’s amazing!’ Ted:  (disgruntled): The world has got enough  designer chairs. Wilma:  Well, WE don’t, and this one looks so  perfect! (Ted’s footsteps). Wilma: (finding a screen with canned webcam footage):  That’s the DESIGNER! Look, we’re literally watching him invent our chair! Ted: They pay guys to do that? Wilma: He’s a genius! I feel so privileged to see this! Wilma: See, he put his new chair right on the web!

Ted: That information architect he’s got is some kinda babe. Wilma:  Oh Ted, you shut up! (beat) Ted (meditatively): They can manufacture with the web now. Awesome. I need one of those web routers for our garage. Wilma: (firmly) I want that chair, Ted. It’s cheap, it’s clean, it’s sustainable. We need it. Ted: Find the buy tag, baby. Wilma: Also it’s fully trackable and we can search it with our house system. Ted: I said you could have it. Wilma (pushes button). (break) Chair approaches silently as Wilma messes with Google Earth screen. DOORBELL rings. Wilma goes to door on screen of 'Burton Household SecureCam.' Accepts delivery of chair. package! Wilma: Ted, the Voxel’s here. The spimey new chair! Ted:  Quick, privatize it! Set your tag scanner on maximum stun!

Wilma: (zapping it) Now it’s all ours. You assemble it while I figure out where to put it! (looks through 3D plans of BURTON HOUSE.) Put it up on the roof. Ted: Assembling that was a snap! I’m gonna watch the big storm roll in. Bring me a six-pack! (Chair gets hit by lightning) Wilma (into support screen, distraught): My beautiful Voxel 3000 took a direct hit! Voxel support staffer (indistinct squeaking). Wilma: No, we weren’t hurt. Do what?  Sure, okay. I can show you that with my cellie! (handheld video shot of spectacularly wrecked chair) See, that eco GooBoard just sort of boiled when the lightning hit it... But the arphid tag is still just fine! (scans it) Okay, sure I will! (turns chair over methodically, following squeaked instructions)  What? a brand new chair? Just for me!That’s very nice of you! What great service! You guys rock! (looks at VOXEL 4000 screen) Wilma: Ted, they gave us a new chair for free! Ted: No, honey, they gave you a free chair because you gave them all our metadata, our user records, and a full video account of the lightning damage. That data’s worth more than the chair.

Wilma: What’s the difference? We don’t even have to dump the chair!They’re taking it right back to the factory themselves!This is the greatest chair company ever! Ted: (thoughtfully) Baby, someday everything in the world is gonna be like this. Wilma: I can’t wait!

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