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Utopia/Dystopia: Inspiring the Next Digital Native

#sxsw #SpecDesign


All design requires some speculation—after all, a designer must predict an individual’s uncertain reaction to her work. What of design that teaches by speculating on what our future might look like? Orwell and Huxley have warned generations of readers with their dystopian views of the world. Artists like The Yes Men and Steve Lambert have taken a utopian approach, asking us to consider what a perfect defense budget may look like or designing a New York Times for the wishful-thinkers.

Millennials have had the chance to consider the advancements and consequences of the digital revolution, a time when new media have been infused into every element of society. As the next generation of digital natives comes into its own, what role does speculative design play in educating or inspiring those who will build and use the tools that shape their world? The talk includes a review of work that help ground an understanding of today’s media landscape by projecting what they look like in the future.



Gabriel Schaffzin Dynamic Media Institute at MassArt

Having used his degree from Babson College to work at organizations as small as his own start-up to multi-national corporations, Gabi returned to the academic world three years ago to earn his graduate degree at the Dynamic Media Institute at the Massachusetts College of Art & Design. Providing innovative solutions to problems has always been the primary driver for his work—and continues to be as he builds a research, design, and development firm, Skeptic, with some of his MassArt colleagues. 

During both the pursuit of his masters of fine arts and professional endeavors, he has been working to explore the ways in which dynamic media and the forces acting upon it shape our discourse. This is, most likely, fueled by his concurrent love for dystopian fiction and The West Wing. When he’s not reading one or watching the other, he’s probably yelling at the TV as he watches the latest Philadelphia sports meltdown, missing his mother’s home cooking, traveling with his wife, or running (for fun, not safety).