Design Futures Spring 2011

Design Futures talk series

Most events at Berkeley Center for New Media Commons, located at 340 Moffitt Library, near the Free Speech Cafe (map)
6:00 - 7:30pm.

January 19

Dr. Jaspal Sandhu and Dr. Mahad Ibrahim, Gobee Consulting

Making Technology Meaningful: Bridging Research & Practice
A major disconnect in social impact is the meaningful application of technology to complex problems. Gobee is a small, agile consultancy working to develop impact-oriented technology solutions through holistic design approaches. The talk will highlight the Gobee model of linking research and practice through presentation of current social impact engagements.

Jaspal Sandhu focuses his efforts on managing Gobee’s design activities as well as its global health portfolio. He has worked on public health design projects with populations in Mongolia, India, Guatemala, Uganda, Kenya, Nigeria, Mexico, and the United States. In 2009, he was selected as one of three iSpot Award winners by the Mayo Clinic Center for Innovation. In 2008, he was chosen by the Global Health Council as a New Investigator in Global Health. His industry design experience includes time at Nokia Research Center and Intel. He received his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, and his Master’s and Bachelor’s degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Mahad Ibrahim is dedicated to improving information management through innovative strategy, policy, and design. He advises global corporations, international organizations, and non-profits to improve policy and technology design. An engaging instructor, Mahad is regularly invited to teach courses and conduct workshops on information and communications technology. He has developed curriculum to help demystify technology and mobilize technology adoption. He received his Ph.D. and Master degree from the University of California, Berkeley and his Bachelor’s degree from Cornell University.

March 9

Stuart Candy, Arup and The Skeptical Futuryst

Stuart Candy, a.k.a. the sceptical futuryst, is a designer, consultant, writer, educator, and activist. He is currently Senior Foresight and Innovation Specialist at the design and engineering firm Arup, and Adjunct Professor in the Design Strategy MBA at California College of the Arts in San Francisco. He became the first Research Fellow of the Long Now Foundation in 02006. Stuart received his PhD in Political Science from the University of Hawaii at Manoa for work on experiential scenarios, an approach to immersive storytelling at the intersection of futures, design, and politics. Originally from Australia, he also holds an LLB and a BA in the history and philosophy of science from the University of Melbourne.

March 23

Chris Hecker, definition six, inc.

Chris’s slides and summary of his talk available here.


Chris focuses on solving hard problems at the intersection of gameplay, aesthetics, and technology. He is an outspoken advocate for pushing the current boundaries of design and interactivity, in the hope that games will eventually achieve their full potential as a medium. To this end he helps organize the Indie Game Jam and the Experimental Gameplay Workshop, and his recent work has centered on using proceduralism and artificial intelligence to enhance player creativity and agency. Chris has been on the advisory board for the Game Developers Conference for many years and is a regular speaker at the GDC, Siggraph, and other conferences. A frequent contributor to Game Developer magazine, Chris was the technical columnist for the magazine for two years and the Editor-at-Large for three, and is currently on the editorial board of the computer graphics research publication, The Journal of Graphics Tools. He has worked at both ends of the development spectrum, as a one-man indie game developer with his company definition six, inc. and on a hundred-person team at Maxis/Electronic Arts. His professional goal is to help games become the preeminent art and entertainment form of the 21st century. His current project is SpyParty, an indie game about subtle human behavior and deception.

April 13

Parul Vora, Wikimedia Foundation and The Laboratorium

Participation, Collaboration, and Engagement

People don’t always do what’s profitable, they also do what’s fun. People don’t always do what serves their self-interests, they also do what is collectively right and good. People aren’t always rational and predictable, sometimes they are novel and creative. This talk presents studies, artworks, and projects that embrace these human motivations to be social, participatory, and collaborative, including Wikipedia, a practical and functioning example of the power of human cooperation and collective action. Wikipedia substantiates our idealism, but it’s not without issue and it’s mission demands the projects’ perpetual evolution. This talk will also present some of the challenges that Wikipedia faces to keep up in the ecosystem of online engagement it helped create.

Parul Vora is a Designer, Researcher, Technologist, User Experience Specialist, Hacker, and Interactive Artist. She has studied at UC Berkeley, Columbia, the MIT Media Lab, the Stanford, at home, in the shop, and out of doors. Her work involves the study, exploration, and creation of human participation and connectedness as mediated by technology. She is currently and researcher and design strategist at the Wikimedia Foundation and has recently worked at yhaus (the Design Innovation Team at Yahoo!), Y!RB (Yahoo Research Berkeley), and Urban Atmospheres. She also has a particular dispostion for robots, bicycles, polaroid cameras, absurdist humor, halloween, lo-fi music, michel gondry movies, and her husband Jeff. She begins most conversations with “Wouldn’t it be cool if……?” and ends them with “Why not?”

Past seasons