Not Signed-In
Which clippings match 'Nicholas Negroponte' keyword pg.1 of 1
04 OCTOBER 2013

Meredith Davis: A Call to Action for Design Educators

"I believe that design education, at the most fundamental level, views complexity as a problem to be overcome through reductivist artifacts, not as an inevitable and pervasive attribute of life in the post–industrial community. So if the future is about an ever–expanding web of connectedness, how are we preparing students for meaningful work in this complex world? I'd like to suggest that we're not. Despite the obvious emotional impact of Glaser's poster, he belongs to a generation in which the goal of design was to make things simple. Negroponte, on the other hand, is a technologist for whom the design goal is to render the complex manageable and to make complicated things meaningful.

Almost everything about today's graphic design education is matched to Glaser's worldview. We structure both curricula and projects in craft–based progressions from simple to complex, from the abstract to the contextualized. In typography classes, for example, we begin with the letter, and then advance to the word, sentence, paragraph, and page. Sequences of typography courses are built on this simple to complex progression, when opening InDesign demands that students address the formal and interpretive issues of publication design simultaneously; how do you defer a discussion of leading, of column width, of the modernist preconceptions of software, of language? The only option is default, and what kind of typographic lesson is that?

The reality is that our strategy for teaching typography is residue from how students could comp type in predigital times; by drawing. It is the organizational structure for every type book since James Craig's 1970 Designing with Type, but it holds less relevance for what students need to know about communication in a digital world. Typography today is a complex relational system that depends on the interplay of formal, technological, linguistic, and cultural variables. Yet we persist in teaching this progression of scale, isolating such variables within their own distinct conceptual frameworks and rules.

The same strategy exists for how students progress in other studies of form. Foundation lessons begin with abstraction: point, line, and plane; color wheels; and paper–folding exercises. We defer discussions of meaning and context until later levels of the curriculum and beginning students learn these abstraction principles only through patterns in what makes their teachers smile. Nothing about these studies resembles what students know about in the real world, and as a colleague recently suggested, what the clients of design see in our work. So what if we begin with the familiar and complex?"

(Meredith Davis, 4 April 2008, AIGA Boston Presentation)

Presentation made at W/Here: Contesting Knowledge in the 21st Century, Emily Carr University of Art+Design, Vancouver, Canada, 7–9 December 2011.



Simon Perkins
20 MARCH 2013

Radical Pedagogies in Architectural Education

"Pedagogical experiments played a crucial role in shaping architectural discourse and practice in the second half of the 20th century. In fact, the key hypothesis of our Radical Pedagogy[1] research project is that these experiments can be understood as radical architectural practices in their own right. Radical in the literal meaning from the Latin radice, as something belonging or relating to the root, to its foundations. Radical pedagogies shake foundations, disturbing assumptions rather than reinforcing and disseminating them. This challenge to normative thinking was a major force in the postwar field of architecture, and has surprisingly been neglected in recent years. ...

Architectural pedagogy has become stale. Schools spin old wheels as if something is happening but so little is going on. Students wait for a sense of activist engagement with a rapidly evolving world but graduate before it happens. The fact that they wait for instruction is already the problem. Teachers likewise worry too much about their place in the institutional hierarchies. Curricular structures have hardly changed in recent decades, despite the major transformations that have taken place with the growth of globalisation, new technologies, and information culture. As schools appear to increasingly favour professionalisation, they seem to drown in self–imposed bureaucratic oversight, suffocating any possibility for the emergence of experimental practices and failures. There are a few attempts to wake things up here and there but it's all so timid in the end. There is no real innovation.

In response to the timidity of schools today, the Radical Pedagogy project returns to the educational experiments of the 1960s and '70s to remind us what can happen when pedagogy takes on risks. It's a provocation and a call to arms."

(Beatriz Colomina with Esther Choi, Ignacio Gonzalez Galan and Anna–Maria Meister, 28 September 2012, The Architectural Review)

1). Radical Pedagogy is an ongoing multi–year collaborative research project by a team of PhD candidates in the School of Architecture at Princeton University, led by Beatriz Colomina and involving seminars, interviews and guest lectures by protagonists and scholars. The project explores a remarkable set of pedagogical experiments of the 1960s and '70s that revolutionised thinking in the discipline. Each student is working on one of these experiments and collectively mapping the interconnections and effects of these experiments towards a major publication and exhibition.

Fig.1 Tournaments in the Course 'Culture of the Body', at the Valparaíso School, 1975. Courtesy of Archivo Histórico Jose Vial, Escuela Arquitectura y Diseño, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso



1960s1970s20th centuryacademic disciplinesactivism • Alberto Perez-Gomez • Alexander Girard • Alexis Josic • alternative visions • Anna-Maria Meister • architectural discourse • architectural educationarchitectural pedagogyarchitectural practice • architectural radicalism • architecturearchitecture schoolsartificial intelligence • autochthonous tools • Beatriz Colomina • brave new worldBuckminster Fullerbureaucratic reduction • bureaucratic structures • call to arms • capitalist structures • Cedric Price • challenging conventionsCharles Eamescold war • collective defiance • conceptual speculation • consumable plastics • conventional logicconventionalityconventions • cultural milieu • cultural transformation • curricular structures • curriculum innovation • cybernetics • Dalibor Vesely • Daniel Libeskind • David Leatherbarrow • decentralised university • Denise Scott Brown • design disciplinedesign educationdesign formalismdesign fundamentalism • disciplinary assumptions • disciplinary limits • disciplinary protocols • disciplinary self-reflexivity • emerging practices • Emilio Ambasz • Esther Choi • experimental pedagogy • experimental practices • experimental teachinggeopolitical landscape • George Candilis • George Nelson • Germano Celant • Giancarlo De Carlo • Gillo Dorfles • globalisationGyorgy KepesHannah Arendthegelian dialecticHenri Lefebvrehermeneutics • Ignacio Gonzalez Galan • information culture • institutional authority • institutional critique • institutional hierarchies • institutionalisation • instrumentality • Jean Baudrillard • Joseph Rykwert • linguisticsman machine • mass produced desire • mass productionmodernist tradition • Mohsen Mostafavi • new social ordernew technologiesNicholas Negroponte • non-architecture • non-school • Octavio Paz • pedagogical experiments • pedagogical institutions • pedagogy • pedagogy experiments • phenomenology • post-technological society • professionalisation • progressive pedagogical initiatives • provocationquestioning traditions • radical architectural pedagogies • radical architectural pedagogy • radical architectural practices • radical pedagogical experiments • radical pedagogies • radical pedagogy • radical practice • radical practices • radical strategies • radical upheaval • radicality • radice • rapidly evolving world • Ray Eamesreconceptualisationredesigningreinterpretationresearch project • retreat into formalism • return to order • Robin Evans • science fictionself-reflexivity • Shadrach Woods • socio-political • socio-political efficacy • spaceships • speculative interventionsspeculative proposalssubversive actions • Suzanne Keller • taking risks • techno-utopia • technological • technological advancestechnological determinism • Texas Rangers • The Architectural Review • transformational engagementUmberto Ecoutopian perspectiveutopian technological prophecyVietnam war


Simon Perkins
27 NOVEMBER 2010 individual experience causing social fragmentation?

"MIT technology specialist Nicholas Negroponte prophecies the emergence of 'the Daily Me'––a communications package that is personally designed, with each component fully chosen in advance [4]. Many of us are applauding these developments, which obviously increase individual convenience and entertainment. But in the midst of the applause, we should insist on asking some questions. How will the increasing power of private control affect democracy? How will the Internet, the new forms of television, and the explosion of communications options alter the capacity of citizens to govern themselves? What are the social preconditions for a well–functioning system of democratic deliberation, or for individual freedom itself? ...

A large part of my aim is to explore what makes for a well–functioning system of free expression. Above all, I urge that in a diverse society, such a system requires far more than restraints on government censorship and respect for individual choices. For the last decades, this has been the preoccupation of American law and politics, and indeed the law and politics of many other nations as well, including, for example, Germany, France, England, and Israel. Censorship is indeed a threat to democracy and freedom. But an exclusive focus on government censorship produces serious blind spots. In particular, a well–functioning system of free expression must meet two distinctive requirements.

First, people should be exposed to materials that they would not have chosen in advance. Unplanned, unanticipated encounters are central to democracy itself. Such encounters often involve topics and points of view that people have not sought out and perhaps find quite irritating. They are important partly to ensure against fragmentation and extremism, which are predictable outcomes of any situation in which like–minded people speak only with themselves. I do not suggest that government should force people to see things that they wish to avoid. But I do contend that in a democracy deserving the name, people often come across views and topics that they have not specifically selected.

Second, many or most citizens should have a range of common experiences. Without shared experiences, a heterogeneous society will have a much more difficult time in addressing social problems. People may even find it hard to understand one another. Common experiences, emphatically including the common experiences made possible by the media, provide a form of social glue. A system of communications that radically diminishes the number of such experiences will create a number of problems, not least because of the increase in social fragmentation.

As preconditions for a well–functioning democracy, these requirements hold in any large nation. They are especially important in a heterogeneous nation, one that faces an occasional risk of fragmentation. They have all the more importance as each nation becomes increasingly global and each citizen becomes, to a greater or lesser degree, a 'citizen of the world."

(Cass Sunstein, 2002)

Sunstein, C. (2002). "The Daily Me"., Princeton University Press.

Fig.1 San Liu (2004) 'Narcissism'



1995 • being digital • Cass Sunsteincensorship • citizen of the world • citizenshipcommon experiences • communications technologies • consumer choiceconveniencecultural signalsdemocracy • democratic deliberation • democratic participation • democratic society • digital culturediversityemerging technologiesempathyextremismfilter • Fishwrap • fragmentationfree expressionfreedomfreedom of speechglobalisation • government censorship • heterogeneity • heterogeneous society • individual choiceindividual experienceindividual freedomindividualisminformation in context • international relations • Internetisolationmedia consumptionMITnarcissismnew forms of televisionNicholas Negroponteparticipationpersonalisation • political philosophy • power • Princeton University Press • private control • • shared experiencesocial changesocial constructionismsocial fragmentationsocial gluesocial interactionthe Daily Me


Simon Perkins

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