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Innovation within the Obama Campaign: Inaugural Torch-sLab lecture at OCAD January 12, 2009

Posted by Greg Van Alstyne in Events, Future of Design: Designing for Emergence, Uncategorized.
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Draft design for Obama's campaign logo, by Sol Sender

Draft design for Obama's campaign logo, by Sol Sender

Strategic Innovation Lab is thrilled to be hosting the first of a series of lectures sponsored by Torch Partnership and organized by Michael Dila, sLab’s chief strategist. This subject is timely and an excellent example of the role design can play in catalyzing significant social change.

The event is now close to capacity; we expect a sold out event so please register soon and come early. We ask you to register here: http://unfinishedlectures.eventbrite.com/ (Registration is not required to attend but helps us plan and improve this event series)

Inaugural Unfinished Lecture at OCAD
Hosted by Strategic Innovation Lab
Sponsored by Torch Partnership

Tuesday January 13, 2009, 5-7 pm
OCAD Auditorium


Scott Thomas and Rahaf Harfoush will lead an interactive discussion on how Design and New Media played an instrumental role in the Barack Obama campaign. Thomas and Harfoush will explore the innovation of both campaign tactics and political strategy. In conversation, we will explore the impact of many forms of openness on participation in the 2008 presidential campaign. Are the progressive tendencies evidenced in the campaign flash-in-the-pan phenomena or a kind of sea change in technologies of engagement.

The Unfinished Lecture is a monthly event hosted by the Strategic Innovation Lab at OCAD and sponsored by Torch Partnership. Part of the Unfinished Business initiative, the lectures are intended to generate an open conversation about strategic innovation in the business and design of commercial enterprises and public organizations.

Scott Thomas is constantly seeking the simplest answer to complex problems. Scott began his design pursuits studying architecture before bouncing to graphic design and web development. In 2006, he and 5 others began a design collective, lovingly titled, The Post Family. The group is devoted to supporting each others design habits, from silk screen to letterpress, from illustration to blogging, in an effort to “get back to the hand”. In 2007, Scott’s career took a dramatic leap when he was invited to join the New Media team at Obama for America. The chance encounter led Scott to becoming the Design Director of the historic Obama Presidential campaign. Scott plans to continue designing for social causes that might just someday change the world.

Rahaf Harfoush is an Innovation and New Media Strategist who specializes in creating authentic conversations in the social media landscape. Her clients include British Telecom, Unilever, InnoSpa, and Duke University. She is also an avid blogger, writer, information junkie, web evangelist and social network ninja. She was the Research Coordinator on Don Tapscott’s “Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything” and contributed to “Grown Up Digital: How the Net Generation is Changing Your World.” Her articles have been published in The Toronto Star, CIO Magazine, NCEW Masthead, ShinyShiny.tv and Suite 101. Rahaf graduated in 2006 with an Honours in Business Administration from the Richard Ivey School of Business from the University of Western Ontario. Currently, Rahaf is working on a variety of projects including collaborating with Now Public founder Leonard Brody on his latest book “Everything I Needed to Know about Business I Learned From a Canadian.” She recently completed a three-month assignment as part of Barack Obama’s New Media Team at his headquarters in Chicago. Rahaf blogs at TheFoush.com

HOSTED BY: Torch Partnership & sLab

Torch Partnership

At Torch we think differently about the purpose and value of design. By treating business problems as problems of design we are able to develop a richer point of view on the problem itself. This creates a deeper understanding of the problem’s dynamics, and leads to a diversity of unique insights to the problem, its causes and its effects. Our greatest ambition as designers is to improve the businesses we serve. We focus our attention on creating alignment between your organization’s strategy and it’s design for creating value: from structure to processes, communications and core capabilities.

Strategic Innovation Lab
Strategic Innovation Lab (sLab) is a centre for research and innovation affiliated with the Faculty of Design at the Ontario College of Art & Design (OCAD). sLab operates on a model that integrates academic research, professional services, curriculum and skills development for stakeholders in the private, public, and not-for-profit sectors. sLab is a growing community of researchers and practitioners, design and business professionals, teachers and students, who are passionate about envisioning possible futures.


Designing for emergence in US presidential politics December 14, 2008

Posted by Greg Van Alstyne in Future of Design: Designing for Emergence.
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Unchosen variation on Obamas campaign logo, by Sol Sender

Unchosen variation on Obama's campaign logo, by Sol Sender

This story combines two of my passions: typography and designing for emergence.

Sol Sender, who led a design team for the Obama 08 logo, was recently interviewed about the project. Here’s a walk through the various logo options, with some of Sol’s thoughts. The full interview videos can be watched on the website of VSA Partners (where Sol is now a strategist).


I can’t help thinking that of all the options, the final choice is clearly the most:

  • pictorial
  • small c conservative
  • “American,” and
  • effective — because the others seem, er, too “radical,” that is, unexpected, for a presidential campaign.

Special issue of Artifact: Canonical design writings December 10, 2008

Posted by Greg Van Alstyne in Future of Design: Designing for Emergence, Open Calls, sLab Education.
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Here’s an interesting call from the journal that published Bob Logan’s and my first collaborative paper on Designing for Emergence. The result should be a vital resource for design research and education

Journal: Artifact
Special Issue: Canonical writings on design

Artifact, an international peer-reviewed academic journal dealing with design, plans a special issue for mid-2009 dedicated to canonical writings on design. Any search of the literature on design reveals a burgeoning field of writing that recurrently reformulates itself according to processes of economic, social and technological change. Within this flux of ideas, however, there are certain books that warrant acknowledgment as anchor points for any investigation into their respective area of design. The Artifact special issue on canonical writings in design welcomes articles on single books or groups of books that you consider have a significant and enduring place in the literature of design.

Where some view canon formation as an expression of ideological control, the special issue seeks to stimulate debate concerning design’s essential readings by exploring the authority of highly valued texts. Artifact encourages cross-fertilization, interconnections, and crossbreeding among different scientific disciplines, the design industry, and the arts. We seek reviews that reflect the broad field of design and show how a canonical design literature is open and expanding, as new issues and influences impact on the activity of design.

The goal of the issue is to add to the design field’s intellectual robustness, to establish principles for the ongoing critical evaluation of key texts and to ensure that important works are not neglected as a result of the ongoing cycle of publication. Alternatively, we recognize that the scope of a single journal issue means any attempt at canon-identification will be neither all-embracing nor definitive. The proposed books will thus shed light on the interplay of current and enduring concerns in design.

Review essays should be no more than 3,500 words in length and are due 1 February 2009.

We already have a number of books proposed for review, so please check to see whether your intended book is free for review by contacting the special issue editor:

Carolyn Barnes, PhD
Senior Lecturer, Senior Research Fellow
Swinburne Design
Swinburne University of Technology
Melbourne, Australia


For information on Artifact please visit: http://www.informaworld.com/artifact