designing culture
Find us on
designing culture text

Anne Balsamo teaches courses in interactive media, design research, and technology and technology and culture at the University of Southern California. She holds joint appointments in the Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism and in the Interactive Media Division of the School of Cinematic Arts. She serves as the Director of Emergent Technologies for the Annenberg Innovation Lab. She is also the Editor of the E-Book Series Imprint for the Annenberg Press.

She is a cofounder of Onomy Labs, a Silicon Valley make-tank that designs cultural technologies. From 1998-2001, she was a principal scientist at Xerox PARC where she worked as a member of the research-design group RED. Her book, Technologies of the Gendered Body: Reading Cyborg Women (Duke, 1996) explored the cultural implications of emergent bio-technologies.

Her current area of research and design focuses on the emergent genre of new media called Public Interactives. In 2010 she received a National Endowment for the Humanities Digital Start-Up grant to build a tangible interface browser for the AIDS Memorial Quilt.

www.designingculture.net/blog

Anne Balsamo Speaking Sheet



Anne Balsamo offers several lessons about culture and innovation based on her experiences as an educator, a design researcher, and entrepreneur.

• Innovation is a process, not a product
• Innovation is a multidisciplinary endeavor
• Designing is a practice of the technological imagination
• The future is enacted by designers who hack the present to create the platforms for future world-making
• Making things is important for the construction of shared knowledge
• Every technology has contradictory and multiple effects
• Collaboration across differences is the key to technocultural innovation
• The creation of new technologies always involves the design of new cultural possibilities
• Everyone who participates in the design of new technologies is also engaged in the process of designing culture
• Understanding the relationship of culture and technology, therefore is an ethical imperative for those engaged in creating new technologies, applications, and digital culture

Balsamo describes the design of new learning practices that focus on the cultivation of the technological imagination. In this broad vision, she offers a model of how the research university is poised to serve as one of the most important sites for the development of technocultural innovation. To do so, she argues that we need to create opportunities for artists, scientists, engineers, and designers to collaborate more closely in shared make-spaces where the focus is the creation of transformative research projects. In making this argument, she examines the specific contribution of the digital humanities to the process of innovation and the design of learning in the 21st century.


The print publication is part of a broader TRANSMEDIA PROJECT simply called Designing Culture.

Packaged with the book is the interactive multimedia documentary, Women of the World Talk Back created by Mary Hocks and Anne Balsamo in 1995 based on our participation at the 4th UN World Conference on Women held in Beijing, China.

Other elements of this work of transmedia scholarship include video archives and applications from the Experiments in the Future of Reading exhibit created by RED @ PARC; an interactive application called Learning to Love the Questions that provokes us to ask more nuanced questions of the technologies that fascinate us; and video primers about contemporary technoculture.

 
"In this sweeping expansion of the classic innovation literature, Anne Balsamo portrays both the necessity and the challenge of cultivating the technological imagination in all of us. Her experiences as a researcher and designer who has worked across cultural domains—as a humanist in the academy, as a research scientist in an industrial innovation center, and as an entrepreneur in Silicon Valley—give her a unique ability to foster conversations among diverse groups of thinkers who want to engage with issues of culture and technological innovation. Balsamo not only describes ways to take culture seriously in the design of new technologies but also elaborates why it is ethically imperative to do so. Her insights into expanding the traditional considerations of socio-technical design to consider issues of culture are coming at a critical time. This is a great book that should be read by anyone interested in creating new technologies of imagination—for enhancing learning in the twenty-first century and creating expressive cultural platforms for the future." 
"Designing Culture is a tour de force, offering a unique vision of the possibilities for a contemporary cultural studies. Refusing to separate research from pedagogy, technology from culture, or innovation from imagination, Anne Balsamo maps the concrete complexities of specific design processes, and opens up new ways of thinking about and teaching technocultures in relation to broader socio-political fields. Her book is required reading for anyone working with contemporary cultures."
"Designing Culture is a road map to the technological imagination, provided by one of our best theorists and practitioners. Anne Balsamo's architecture of the future rests solidly on her own experiments, inventions, theoretical engagements, pedagogical innovations, and interactive hermeneutics. This is cultural theory at its best, brilliant, bold, and daring."