I came to the MediaLab last September having never taken a class at a liberal arts college or university. My undergraduate career was at Babson College (a business school) and my graduate career has been at the Massachusetts College of Art & Design. Suffice to say, I was not necessarily ready for the learning that was about to hit me in the face.
From Fraser on Habermas to Garnham on capitalism and culture, the first few weeks of Intro To Civic Media provided a veritable baptism into a world I had not previously considered. After all, I was a business guy working in the advertising world—I should have found the readings to be threatening.
Instead, I found them to be enlightening. Moving through Jenkins, Uricchio, Cultural Labor, and Media Ownership all the way to McCarthy, Benford, and Shirky—it didn’t necessarily get easier, but it became more familiar. Being pushed outside a comfort zone in which I had developed my career for the previous seven years was why I came to grad school to begin with.
But it wasn’t just the consumption of these theories that worked my analytical muscles. Twenty three blog posts, two presentations, a six minute animation, two term papers, and over 15,000 words later, I’ve been provided an opportunity to reflect on what I’ve read in the context of my place as a designer and developer in an increasingly more complex world.
Late last night I returned from a trip to Washington, DC where I met with a team of designers at NPR, a political strategist, and a director at the NEA. Approaching those meetings nine months ago would have—most likely—provided marginally fruitful. But with what I’ve been reading about, talking about, writing about, and—most importantly—thinking about over the past two semesters, I felt more ready for the discussions I had than I ever could have been previously.
I hesitate to sway into the realm of cheesy here. I’m not really into that. But I appreciate the opportunity and insight that my professor and my classmates have provided over the past two semesters. It’s been mind-blowing. So thanks.