There are very few people to whom I owe more thanks than Ellie Schaffzin and Lisa Oliver, who, from my initial declaration that I wanted to go to art school, through to my admission that I was too afraid to “weird people out” with my work, have consistently provided that slap in the face that I needed. I can also thank Ellie for beefing up my speculative fiction collection (and for convincing me that I could take that letterpress course after I took Intro to Civic Media) and Lisa for introducing me to Jürgen Habermas, Jacques Ranciére, Scott Lash, and the like (she also introduced me to — and convinced me to move past — Michel Foucault, though I’m not sure how thankful I am for that).
Once Ellie and Lisa convinced me to seek out an MFA program, I have Brian Moore to thank for introducing me to the Dynamic Media Institute. Jay Williams, John Hargrave, and Professor Mary O’Donoghue helped convince an art school that an ad guy with a business degree could still handle the rigors of academia, and Barry Frechette helped make sure he could do so while still making a living. Along the way, Jayne Hetherington provided many free meals and Jeremy Ball and Luke Markesky provided many willing challenges to my thinking.
Professors Brian Lucid, Gunta Kaza, and Joe Quackenbush opened up a plethora of channels I had no idea existed inside my head. Professor Sasha Costanza-Chock pushed that head to places I never thought possible, 40 or 50 pages of dense theory at a time. And my MassArt students let me use them as guinea pigs over the past three semesters.
For the invaluable insight into each of their respective expertise, thanks to Daniel Bricklin, Tony Wain, John Saunders, Minh and Diana Bui, the good people of Occupy Boston, Max Slavkin of OccupyDesign.org, EJ Fox, John Emerson, Munish Puri, Jason Schupbach and the NEA, David Wright, Max Pfennighaus, and their team at NPR Interactive, Eric Kindel of the University of Reading in the UK, Marek Kultys, and M.T. Anderson.
Thanks to all of my DMI colleagues, especially the boys of Skeptic, whose daily challenges may lead me to a state of baldness at a somewhat young age, but without whom the past couple of years would have been supremely lonely and relatively boring.
Professor Katherine Hughes reminded me why I loved growing up around typography. Then she agreed to let me stop by her office every week and complain about my latest roadblock. Even after all that, she still signed up to read this thesis and help me design the final book — a piece I will be forever proud of, no matter how it turns out.
Professor Jan Kubasiewicz nodded patiently as I espoused the virtues of visualizing one’s political beliefs and then walked that praise back. He smiled knowingly as I threw Foucault into a paper about information design and then never spoke of the French philosopher again. And he let me hand a summer independent-study paper in to him in October. He pushed me to explore further the intricacies of Otto Neurath’s Transformer and introduced me to Vilém Flusser’s work. I look forward to the opportunity to continue working with both Jan and Katherine in the near future.
Thanks to my parents for instilling in me an appreciation for inquiry and criticality. Thanks to my father for the steady stream of inspiration (be it in conversation, email, or book form). And thanks to my mother (of whose current doctoral pursuit I am extremely proud) for translating John Dewey and sharing Tom Barone.
Finally, the individual who deserves the most thanks is my wife, Sheila. There’s a slim chance I could have survived these three years without her, but even if I had, it would have been without any food, clean clothes, much-needed breaks, adventures around the world, or, for that matter, any remaining sanity. The patience with which she provides support astounds me every day. She agreed to marry a capitalist businessman and ended up with an artistic academic. I think she knew this transformation would happen all along, even if I had no idea.