Agency in a White Water World: Designing the Future of Public Policy When All is Rapidly Changing, Hyper-Connected and Radically Contingent
Guest Speaker: Ann Pendleton-Jullian, Ohio State University and
In a conference on "Systems Perspectives in Design," held in Banff, Canada, October 2015, Don Norman presented probably the best description so far of the characteristics that define "wicked" problems. He also initiated a meme that ran throughout the conference when he referenced Charles Lindblom's complex problem solving mechanism of "muddling through." This was an approach to public policy formulation which recognized that when dealing with complex socio-technical problems one could not plan definitively, but instead, must just muddle through - "doing well the little things that come up" to make progress. This is a tactical heuristic approach with merit in its bottom up humility and its desire for moving forward through action. And small things, done well, do scale. For Lindblom, 'muddling through' was "not a failure or method for which administrators ought to apologize," but a step-by- step system of successive limited comparisons that aimed for incremental sequential change. It was prescient in that it recognized that contexts change as you do anything to them.
Ann Pendleton-Jullian is an architect, educator, and writer of international standing. Her design work negotiates the overlap between architecture, landscape, culture, and technology and is motivated towards internationalism as both a concept and a reality.. Ann took up architecture after a brief but serious attempt to adopt astrophysics as a career choice. She obtained her BArch degree from Cornell University and her MArch from Princeton. She began her professional apprenticeship in Chicago and in the mid eighties, opened her first professional office in Los Angeles. After three years in practice there, she returned to the east coast to establish a partnership with Guilllaume Jullian de la Fuente from 1986 - 1996. Back on the east coast, she also began teaching at Cornell University, Princeton University and then later at MIT for fourteen years. Her most recent work has focused on furthering the use of game design as a way to approach complex and emergent systems within architectural, urban and landscape design, both theoretically and in practice. And seeing education as its own design problem, she is also involved in thinking and writing about education for the 21st century, in practice. Ann maintains ongoing working affiliations with the MIT Media Lab, the School of Architecture at the Catholic University of Santiago, Chile, The University of Porto Alegre, Brazil, Tongji University in Shanghai, the New University of Singapore, and the London School of Economics.
John Seely Brown (JSB) was the Chief Scientist of Xerox Corp and Director of its famous/infamous Palo Alto Research Center (PARC). Currently he is a visiting scholar and advisor to the Provost at USC where he facilitates collaboration between the Schools for Communication and Media and the Institute for Creative Technologies (ICT). JSB is also currently the Independent Co-Chairman for Deloitte's Center for the Edge where he pursues research on radical innovation, institutional innovation and a reimagined work environment built on digital culture, ubiquitous computing, and the need for constant learning and adaptability. His personal research interests include digital youth culture, the application of technology to fundamentally rethink the nature of work and institutional architectures in order to enable deep learning across organizational boundaries - in brief, to design for emergence in a constantly changing world. JSB is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Education, a Fellow of the American Association for Artificial Intelligence. He serves on numerous private and public boards of directors, including Amazon. He has published over 100 papers in scientific journals and 6 books. His most recently is Pragmatic Imagination, co-authored with Ann Pendleton-Jullian.