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The First Code Acquired by Smithsonian’s Design Museum Is Released to the World

Planetary App (via Planetary)
Planetary App (via Planetary)

The Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum is getting onboard with digital acquisitions, this week announcing their first code addition to their collection.

Planetary app screenshot (via Planetary)
Planetary app screenshot, while listening to some Björk (via Planetary)

The lucky digital item is the appropriately space age iPad app Planetary, which turns your music collection into a solar system with artists as stars, albums as planets, and tracks are moons. In the announcement on Smithsonian.com, it’s explained that not only will the app be on display in the Manhattan museum when it reopens post-renovations in 2014, but a new version will also be used to bring together all of the museum’s around 217,000 objects, most of which are not usually on display, into a digital interface for visitors.

Yet before that unveiling, the Cooper-Hewitt also released the source code to the world this week for anyone to alter into a new version, and, hopefully, to make it have a lifespan far beyond its current devices. The creators, Bloom, which released the app in 2011, have been defunct since 2012, so in this way their work will not just outlive their short start up lifespan, but likely the operating limitations of this current time. Planetary will be unstuck from time.

While this might be their first foray into the intangible wilderness of code, Cooper-Hewitt does already have such visually transient items as digital typography. And it does seem a little slow for a design museum to just now be making its first code acquisition. After all, MoMA is well underway with its code-based games acquisitions. However, Cooper-Hewitt could really take this opportunity to take the lead in not just preserving significant moments in digital design, but offering them to the public to ensure that their longevity is limitless, perhaps beyond the museum itself.

The source code for Planetary is availalbe here on GitHub

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