In a meeting towards the end of my last semester at DMI, one of my thesis advisors, Professor Katherine Hughes, noted that she began to write “eek” in the margins of the final chapter of this document. To be sure, phrases like “counter-programming the apparatus” and assertions that we need a revolution to break the Technopoly are not necessarily the most uplifting. And there is little chance that the student who started at MassArt in the fall of 2010 after a few years in the ad business would have ever considered writing this thesis. Then again, who better to critique a Technopoly than one who has contributed to it on a regular basis?
But the transformation I went through over the past three years should not be characterized simply as from believer to skeptic. I was given the opportunity to combine theory and practice, always using one to inform the other, and so I have also become a maker and educator—the latter of which I never actively aspired to be, but have come to regard as just as an important role as the former. Along the way, I read some brilliant pieces, learned of some brilliant work, worked with some brilliant colleagues, and had the opportunity to interview some brilliant people.
There is a part of me that wishes I had gone to art or design school as an undergraduate, rather than get my degree in business administration. I am often in awe of the ease with which my colleagues can bang out a quick grid—complete with the perfect typeface choices and color scheme—or can list off a slew of historical references to a specific design movement. But my education also provided me the opportunity to know first-hand how the systems and forces I challenge in this book work from the inside.
Before DMI, I saw the kind of writing found here to be counter-productive (great, you have problems with the world, what would you like to do about it?) and the kind of work documented in the accompanying volume as, well, weird (neat, but what utility does it really have?). Admittedly, I sometimes shy away from sharing my work with my fellow Babson alumni or advertising colleagues, at the risk of garnering similar reactions. But I also know that, as I continued with my research and my making, I reinforced my argument, strengthening my ability to walk others through it and explaining its various components with nuance.
There are still more questions to be answered (certainly, more to be asked) when it comes to
the construction of a curriculum of proper knowledge consumption which incorporates the speculative design method in order to elucidate the forces of Technopoly and the apparatuses acting on us. And after three years of academic rigor, I am convinced of its value. So I will continue to seek opportunities that allow me to find a balance between thinking and making, theory and practice, always reminding myself that, sometimes, you’ve got to cause your reader to write “eek” in the margins.