These days computers are mostly devices in drag. The gadgets that surround us wear the distinctive gear and play the varied roles of telephones, MP3 players, digital cameras, watches and date books. Under the surface, microchips and software are what make these otherwise inert lumps of metal and plastic useful. The same goes for domestic appliances, automobiles, laboratory equipment, prostheses, and the electrical and mechanical systems of buildings.
Our cities are fast transforming into artificial ecosystems of interconnected, interdependent intelligent digital organisms. This is the fundamentally new technological condition confronting architects and product designers in the twenty-first century.
"At the MIT Design Laboratory," writes William J. Mitchell, "my colleagues and I work with teams of students to explore the emerging opportunities this condition provides".