Technology: Bridging Remote Collaborators, enabling Connectivity

Technology is often described as a mediator, acting as a bridge between people, places, and information. It allows for connectivity, making unexpected relationships possible. In collaboration, we seek tools that enable connectivity.

If technology is a bridge between people, places, and information, than how might it possibly discourage collaboration? This conundrum is fascinating to me.

As technology encourages collaboration in one instance, it almost always disconnects a different instance. This paradox suggests, in order to engage, one must disengage somewhere else. For example, If we are present in a shared, collaborative work space but we are actually engaged in a google hangout session with collaborators overseas, where exactly are we? Are we present in the physical space OR are has the bridge connected us to our technologically-driven environment with our online collaborators? Another example could be the interruption of social networks that disengages your work environment (real or virtual). Technology-driven environments interrupt our ‘real’ environments, complicating our interactions with people and places by bridging multiple connections.


Candy Chang inspires urban development by enabling community

Candy Chang is an installation artist, urban planner, and designer whose mission is to make cities more comfortable for people. She is also a co-founder of Civic Center, a New Orleans based – civic design studio that strives to build helpful communities in New Orleans. Much of her current work is inspired from community insight of abandoned or lost buildings in the city. How could the spaces be improved for the people that live, work, and play here now?

What I have found interesting about Chang ‘s work is that she enables the community of New Orleans to voice their desires about urban planning in their city. How does she do it? That is a very good question. Many of her projects open up communication and create a public dialogue between designers and the community. Chang often poses what is seemingly research techniques as installation art itself in public spaces. Let’s look at some examples of her work.

How might a similar process for enabling community and providing a more comfortable city function in a city like Atlanta? It seems plausible that using a similar approach and technique as Chang but changing the city (to Atlanta) and changing the people (who live near the abandoned space) would in fact, vary the results of new design and urban planning drastically.


Daniel Pink’s A Whole New Mind introduces the Conceptual Age

Daniel H. Pink’s New York Times and Business Week bestseller, A Whole New Mind, conveys new ideologies of the 21st century worker in a clear and  digestible narrative that is fun and easy to read. Pink argues that man has evolved from an agriculture age (farmers) to the Industrial age (factory workers) to the Information age (knowledge workers) according to an increase in affluence, technology, and globalization. Pink’s major focus lies in the transition from the Information age to what he calls the conceptual age of the 21st century.

The conceptual age focuses on two macro components: high concept and high touch. Pink reveals that drivers like automation, Asia knowledge workers, and over abundance of market demands increase a need for right-brain thinkers that demonstrate skills of empathy and innovation. He articulates these specific skills of success for the conceptual age worker as design, story, symphony, empathy, play, and meaning.

Design: In this section, Pink discusses the importance of design, aesthetic appeal, and emotive qualities of products, experiences, and services in an environment that is over saturated with abundance.

Story: Here, Pink evaluates the importance of context and narrative verse facts. He suggests that memory and personal identification to story is much stronger and long-lasting than statistical information. See my previous blog here about some of my thoughts on storytelling.

Symphony: In this chapter, Pink recognizes the importance of multiple facets that create big picture elements. He mentions the importance of metaphors and talks about cross analyzing solutions to create new innovations. Pink uses drawing, music, and other right brained skills as examples of symphonic activities.

Empathy: Empathy is the capacity to recognize and, to some extent, share feelings (such as sadness or happiness) that are being experienced by another person. Pink encourages caregiver professions in the conceptual age as well as a high-touch approach to client / business relationships.

Play: This means exactly what it implies… play. The conceptual age is no longer composed of serious personalities only, not to say that seriousness has its role in some cases. However, things like sense of humor and laughter are all important components to balance the psyche.

Meaning: In this section, Pink offers a glimpse into the new workers personal goals and motivations. No longer do people solely work to make money and put food on the table, but instead people believe and want to be a part of something that is bigger than they are. People want to work for something that they believe in and people want to work with other people that that have similar values.


Top 10 Learning Experiences from graduate school, GSU [Fall 2010]

GSUAs the fall semester at Georgia State comes to a close, I can’t help but reflect on the months that have past. It always seems like during the semester, you are constantly thinking when will this be over, but the truth is, school is filled with fantastic project work and exciting learning experiences.

Sixteen weeks of high intensity learning and teaching can be pretty intense but overall, it has been a great semester.

Top 10 learning experiences

  1. The library is a great resource for students and teachers. Make friends with your librarian and start your research early.
  2. Thesis writing is challenging. I’m exploring the use of guerrilla advertising in order to promote a cause or message. It continues to evolve.
  3. Teaching is challenging. I taught my first design course at GSU, Intro to Graphic Design. I am continuing to teach next spring.
  4. Digital media design is fun. I struggled through another animation/video project this semester. I had every technical issue in the book… but I made it happen!
  5. Learn from your students and keep an open mind. Students ask every question you can think of and are testing your knowledge all the time. They make you accountable for what you say and do… and they should.
  6. Try not to over commit yourself on projects. Sometimes it is OK to say no to a new project if it will distract you from your school commitments.
  7. Working with your hands is very therapeutic. Draw your ideas. Put the computer down.
  8. Try to balance your work load so that you do not get burned out with singular tasks and you work as efficiently as possible. If you prefer writing in the morning, drawing/ conceptualizing in the afternoon and reading at night, split up your course work and jump from task to task. It works better for me.
  9. If you don’t like reading and writing, be weary of going back to school for a graduate degree. The M.F.A. program requires a lot of reading and writing. This semester was particularly intense (more than likely circumstantial) but you never know what courses and professors will align that will require more reading and writing.
  10. Always appreciate the good cry session that happens about 3/4ths into the semester. It’s never as bad as you think and you always feel good after the fact!