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Pamela Jennings on “Field Building” (Media Systems)

In an emerging, interdisciplinary area, how can those getting started understand the possible paths forward? One way is through looking at the (often wending) paths taken by pioneers. In this week’s Media Systems talk from Pamela Jennings (recently-appointed director of the Center for Design Innovation) she provides insight into how she became a field leader, as well as into the work she has done to help the nascent field find its way. Jennings has been a key figure in much of the field development of recent decades, including recent successes such as the NSF’s CreativeIT program and the founding of the SEAD network. (Some related reflections can be found in the Media Systems talks of Brenda Laurel and Janet Murray.)

Jennings also discusses her ongoing work as CEO of the startup company Noblewire. In particular, she describes the CONSTRUCTS Toolkit, a wireless sensor mesh network system for new mixed-reality (virtual and physical) applications in education, gaming, and design prototyping. Providing new hardware/software possibilities such as these can help in engaging diverse groups, spark new kinds of speculations, and make possible the construction of new demonstrations and prototypes that could lead to new insights and products. This in turn, is one strategy for creating the kinds of “digital sandboxes” that aid field building by providing opportunities for those from different disciplines to engage, communicate, collaborate, and play.

If you wish to discuss the ideas in Jennings’s talk further, please leave comments here or take to Twitter with the #MediaSystems hashtag. Also, as with most of our previously-posted videos PDF slides are available on the main Media Systems page for this talk. The full report from the Media Systems project — “Envisioning the Future of Computational Media” — is now available for download and print-on-demand. And watch for Donald Brinkman’s talk, coming next!


This material is based upon a project supported by the National Science Foundation (under Grant Number 1152217), the National Endowment for the Humanities’ Office of Digital Humanities (under Grant Number HC-50011-12), the National Endowment for the Arts’ Office of Program Innovation, Microsoft Studios, and Microsoft Research.

Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of these sponsors.


About the author:  Noah Wardrip-Fruin is a Professor of Computational Media at UC Santa Cruz and the author of Expressive Processing: Digital Fictions, Computer Games, and Software Studies. Read more from this author


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