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The VCFA MFA in Graphic Design Program Blog

VCFA at AIGA Converge

VCFA’s Heather Snyder-Quinn and Ian Lynam at AIGA Converge

May 12, 2017

CONVERGE: Disciplinarities and Digital Scholarship
AIGA Design Educators Community Conference

June 1–3, 2017
School of Cinematic Arts
University of Southern California, Los Angeles
http://converge.cci.kent.edu/

Co-Eval: Rethinking Contemporary Approaches To Collaboration And Critical Inquiry

Participants:
Nathan Matteson, DePaul University (co-chair)
Heather Snyder-Quinn, DePaul University (co-chair)
Eamon Duede, University of Chicago (panelist)
Ian Lynam, Vermont College of Fine Arts/Temple University Japan (panelist)
Kelly Bjork, IDEO Chicago (panelist)

The role of collaboration in the academy is ambiguous. As the landscape of academic work changes—the number and frequency of co-authored journal articles continues to increase; research centers see a growing need to apply results to real-world problems and communicate their value—finding methods to value collaborative effort and authorship becomes critical. But as it stands today, co-authorship, the preeminent form of scholarly co-creation, still carries the presumption of a primary author as maintaining the provenance of knowledge is crucial.

In the face of these aging notions of authorship, the very processes of writing as we have traditionally known them are undergoing massive and systemic change. Distributed online tools allow for a far richer process of team-based authoring than ever before. The same applies to publishing, with increasing avenues for self-publishing and a growing ubiquity of online open-access journals.

These changes have analogs in the industry as well. The tools of design thinking and agile development techniques have transformed the workplace. The increasingly digital world that has driven many of the changes in design process (‘coding in pairs’ anyone?) has also changed the nature of the design industry and engendered the identity complex of the ‘designer as author’. The client–designer dichotomy is failing as an organizational principle, and ‘co-designing’ rises from its ashes.

Occupying the hinterlands between the between the industry and academy are tools like MIT’s PubPub, approaching the event horizon of continuously integrated publishing. The intellectual products of contemporary design are more akin to Theseus’ ship than a canonical landscape of established theories. But the ways in which we assign value to authorship, and the determination of who assigns value, continually lag behind this pace of rapid change.

The panel contains representatives from the ‘academy’ (with a bent towards applied research), the ‘industry’ (with a bent towards defining its future and impact), and from the ever-important if uncomfortable area between the two.

Through an exploration of the divergence among their values and priorities, they will explore possible futures of how we define and maintain scholarship in an increasingly digital and mutable environment. Their discussion and interaction around these questions (e.g. What defines a peer group? How do we assign value to material that cuts across multiple domains of knowledge? Is it possible to exchange value from one ‘marketplace’ to another? Is collaborative authorship a zero sum game?) will be organized, documented, and distributed online to the entire conference to stimulate a massively co-authored manifesto of the future of digital scholarship in design and beyond.

About the panel:

Heather Snyder-Quinn (co-chair) is a Professional Lecturer at DePaul University, College of Computing and Digital Media, School of Design. Heather is an award-winning creative director and educator. After she received her BFA in graphic design from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1996, she began a 20+ year career in in multi-channel and multi-disciplinary projects at the forefront of design culture and commerce. Her clients have included Northwestern, Harvard, MIT OpenCourseware, and OpenPediatrics, among others. She is currently pursuing an MFA in graphic design at the Vermont College of Fine Arts.

Eamon Duede (panelist) is Executive Director at Knowledge Lab, University of Chicago. Eamon directs the research activities of Knowledge Lab and is the interface between the center and its industry partners. Recently Eamon has designed and spearheaded a major strategic and technical shift to cloud implementations of Knowledge Lab’s exploratory research tools and datasets. Eamon holds undergraduate and advanced degrees in philosophy and has served as an instructor of various logics, and a lecturer in philosophy (ethics, epistemology, and the history of philosophy). His academic interests are focused on the constellation of problems fixed around the concepts ‘perception’, ‘belief’, and ‘knowledge’.

Ian Lynam (panelist) is an American designer and educator working in Japan. Ian’s paths for digital scholarship are mainly non traditional—self publishing including books, zines, blogs and sites like Medium. He also writes for Idea Magazine. Through his blog he often interviews other designers and invites dialogue. Through the VCFA blog he encourages more creative contributions and material that is non-traditional—all with the idea of pushing creative norms, boundaries and what is considered “acceptable”.  Ian encourages self-publishing as it allows for more creative freedom.

Kelly Bjork (panelist) is currently a design director at IDEO Chicago. Prior to joining IDEO Kelly worked as an Executive Creative Director for VSA Partners, where she led teams of designers in the development of brand systems, corporate communications and environmental experiences for companies like IBM, Motorola, and First Data. Over the past 5+ years she has seen the the professional field of design move toward a norm of co-authorship / co-designing. She has personally participated in this transformation during her time at VSA working with IBM, and now at IDEO where all work is tackled by a cross-disciplinary design team. Collaboration amongst the team working to solve a challenge is a core value we uphold with each other and is critical to a successful outcome.

A number of VCFA alumni and faculty will be attendance at the conference, including alumnus Aaron Winters, who will be presenting his Perpetual Engagement Through Facilitated Peer Critique.