Reaching communities usually doesn’t include building an app or a Web site but creating a more tangible experience—And, inspiring those who are long lost to apathy to even consider taking part in this experience is the first and most difficult step. Designers often end up using stereotypical and common forms of serious, logical argument in communicating pertinent issues. But many designers have failed to acknowledge a common tool as one of the most powerful rhetorical strategies for use in their work: humor. Neglecting humor’s potential eliminates the chance of mastering a method of communication that has an unlimited usage scope because of its cultural role and human value. There exists a need for humor to become better understood in user-centered design, both in use and in evaluation. This panel will explore ways of communicating complex issues in a non-intimidating fashion. Discussions would provide advocacy organizations or individuals with new and more effective methods for deeper poignant messaging. The hope in furthering awareness of humor research in design is to significantly add to the area of design for social change using strong emotional approaches. As Mark Twain said, “The secret source of humor is not joy but sorrow.”
Adam Frucci is the founder and editor of Splitsider, a blog about the world of comedy. He's also a longtime performer at the UCB Theatre in NYC. He lives in Brooklyn and spends too much time thinking about comedy.
Baratunde Thurston is a comedian, author and vigilante pundit. He was nominated for the Bill Hicks Award for Thought Provoking Comedy, declared a Champion of the First Amendment by Iowa State, and called “someone I need to know” by Barack Obama. He has appeared on most major cable and broadcast networks and also in newspapers. Baratunde co-founded of the political blog Jack & Jill Politics and performs regularly in New York City, where he works as Director of Digital for The Onion. He has hosted Popular Science's Future Of on the Science Channel, resides in Brooklyn and lives on Twitter.
Chelsey Delaney is wrapping up her last semester as a Design grad student at Carnegie Mellon, but more importantly, is a Texan. During her time at THE University of Texas, she made strong acquaintances with the Austin comedy community and began to call designing humor content her niche. CMU let her make this into a thesis topic, and she's been obsessively researching humor + design since. In the past Chelsey worked as a multimedia reporter for ABCNews.com. She currently works for examiner.com as the "Web Examiner" (since 2008), the Carnegie Mellon Press as a book designer, and the Guttmacher Institute as a new media consultant. She does improv when she can. She currently resides in Pittsburgh, PA, but is not a Steelers fan.
Lisa Cohen is founder and CEO of WitStream, a 24-hour live comedy ticker she built with the help of comedian Michael Ian Black.
Ms. Cohen has extensive experience in the comedy industry, having started her TV producing career on Nick at Nite's "Funniest Mom in America" 2 and 3. She was a producer on several typical reality TV shows, but all the while her heart remained with comedy, so she continued to produce live shows and scout talent. Prior to her work in comedy, Ms. Cohen spent 10 years as a graphic designer and art director in the media business.
Most importantly, Lisa became sick and tired of reading tweets like "Lisa is sick," or "Lisa is tired." All too often, in a time of acute boredom, she looked to her smartphone for entertainment only to find mundane and uninspired updates. She cursed the system for not giving her an endless stream of comedians' hilariously brilliant insights, until she finally realized she had to combine her varied experiences and build it herself.
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