Monday Minute, January 11, 2010

Dear Colleagues,

I was in California last week giving a keynote address at the first GeoDesign Summit, hosted by alumnus Jack Dangermond's company, Environmental Systems Research Institute, the world's largest producer of GIS software. The conference brought together academics in design, geography, and computer science, along with Federal agency and professional association representatives, to talk about a new field that Jack has dubbed GeoDesign, which combines the analytical capabilities of GIS with the creative capacities of designers. The event reinforced for me the great potential of the sciences and social sciences, focused on the world as it is, joining forces with design, which envisions the world as it could be.

One of the speakers at the conference, Bran Ferren of the think tank, Applied Minds, made an argument particularly relevant to our world. He offered ample evidence that the digital revolution has only just begun, and that the disruptions that digital media have brought to the news and music industries will eventually transform every field, including the design professions and higher education. While the core content of what we do may not change much, said Ferren, how it gets delivered, when, and by whom, will change dramatically and quickly, once it starts. All food for thought as we enter the second decade of a century that already seems very different from the last.