Aesthetic Algorithms : The Killer App of Mass Customisation


I drew that. Nice innit. I might get it printed on a t-shirt.

It comes from Myoats, which is a site where people can make their own designs using a flash-driven mono-tonal kaleidoscope machine. People can then comment, vote on their favourites, yadda yadda, yawn. No one ever votes for mine – they just gang together and vote for their mate’s ones, and then everyone just votes for the one that’s already popular. Idiots.

Mind you, some of these are fairly impressive.

But they’re not as good as mine. They all look like wolf t-shirts.

So anyway, another software memosphere, and lets face it, if you’re building a new app, and it’s not a memosphere, then you’re doomed.

What’s interesting about this though – it’s an aesthetic algorithm (though strangely, most of the favorites above have escaped its constraints). It only allows colour palettes that work… it anti-aliases nicely, it does symmetry nicely… it basically hand-holds, allowing people to produce something that looks pretty good without them having to spend years learning their craft.

And that I think is the killer app in the coming Mass Customisation revolution – the killer apps of the hardware revolution will be (ironically) software – allowing people to create things that look great, without them having to be classically trained designers. This is what Microsoft did in the last century – they basically put a printing press on the desk of every secretary in the world and gave her/him/it the ability to use it without knowing anything about it.

The money to be made in any revolution isn’t in the physical “products” of the revolution, but massifying the tools that the revolution uses. Bringing it to the people.

Right now CAD is too difficult. I’ve been playing with Inkscape recently. It’s great. It’s too difficult. What will happen, is that something like Spore, will turn up which allow people to easily create designs that look good, and which can then be plugged into some sort of manufacturing process – whether it’s a send-off thing like Ponoko, or a desktop machine.

Through this end of the telescope, the words of wisdom above seem so bleedin obvious, that there’s hardly any point saying them. Still… as far as I’m aware, the software and processes I’m talking about do not yet exist.


I’m definitely some sort of genius. Just like everyone else.

1 Comment » for Aesthetic Algorithms : The Killer App of Mass Customisation
  1. “I’m definitely some sort of genius. Just like everyone else.” Fascinating flurry of posts. Other shoes dropping etc. I do like the design as well.