John Maeda
Image via Wikipedia

The keynote presentation at the SSP IN meeting in Providence, RI, was given by John Maeda, President of the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD, pronounced riz-dee).

First, no surprise, he ran his presentation from a Mac. Meanwhile, I’m blogging from a PC. Urg.

The title of his talk was, “Open Source Administration.” The background on his initial slide consisted of various takes on the bicycle. I liked this. As a design form, the bicycle continues to be a paragon of excellent practices.

Maeda came to RISD from the MIT Media Lab in June of 2008.

Themes of his talk included:

  • Life is about growth, and learning drives growth. He quoted from marginalia he noted once in a chance encounter with someone else’s books, “I’d rather be green and growing than ripe and ready to rot.”
  • He noted that RISD, which has been around since 1877, has produced David Byrne, Shepard Fairey, Gus van Sant, Seth Macfarlane (“Family Guy“), and others.
  • Students at RISD are tired but happy. It’s the thrill of creativity. But RISD is claimed to also stand for “reason I’m sleep-deprived.”
  • They have a nature lab so that students have to encounter real principles and real examples. He claimed that RISD is a great receiver of road kill — a way of adding to its collection. “Integrity of observation” is key.
  • Creativity is a personal journey, exploring the work, the world, and the sources of inspiration and meaning.
  • Art is everywhere at RISD — uncredited, surprising, and wondrous expressions of the human voice.
  • Technologies and capabilities drive structures of human interaction. Now, hierarchies are less meaningful to how work gets done. That drives complexity as an “organizational network” emerges. So, now the notion is that “which nodes matter” is a more important question to know the answer to.
  • Leading creatively is a new possibility. Creative leaders are comfortable with ambiguity, learning, and the world as it is.
  • If Industry were reduced to punctuation marks, they would be ! .
  • If Academia were reduced to punctuation marks, they would be ? ,
  • Can Industry become ? . ?
  • Are you willing to jump in heart first? Trust, hard work, and authenticity are more important.
  • Critical thinking and critiquing bring expansive, focused, motivation, objectivity, subjectivity, and the opportunity to improve. Domain, context, feedback, intent, and outcome apply significantly to business and future planning.
  • Fear is something we can manage, shape, change — it’s just a word.
  • In addition to STEM (science, technology, engineering, and medicine), we need IDEA (innovation, design, emotion, and art).

It was a great talk that had the audience of nearly 70 attendees riveted, laughing, gasping, and paying full attention.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]
Kent Anderson

Kent Anderson

Kent Anderson is the CEO of RedLink and RedLink Network, a past-President of SSP, and the founder of the Scholarly Kitchen. He has worked as Publisher at AAAS/Science, CEO/Publisher of JBJS, Inc., a publishing executive at the Massachusetts Medical Society, Publishing Director of the New England Journal of Medicine, and Director of Medical Journals at the American Academy of Pediatrics. Opinions on social media or blogs are his own.


2 Thoughts on "John Maeda, RISD, and the Art of Staying Green and Growing"

Comments are closed.