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Jeff’s Articles

In 1992 I spent the summer teaching at Carnegie Mellon University in their pre-college program. While there I connected to the university’s Studio for Creative Inquiry which, at the time was studying electronic bulletin boards (this was before the web). I was immediately enraptured. As a child I had pen pals all over the world. Suddenly, the world became a smaller place and my mind started to evaluate the possibilities.

When I returned to my regular teaching at the Maryland Institute College of Art that fall I immediately made an appointment with our dean. I was very excited. I told her all about the Internet. I told her “I don’t know how it will happen or when but the Internet will change, not just what we teach but how we teach.” She finally stopped me and said, “I have no idea what you’re talking about. Let’s go talk to the President of the school.”

When we met with him I repeated my prediction. After some chit chat, he said to us: “This is not Carnegie Mellon; this is not a research institution. This will never happen here.” That quote is forever etched in my brain. Of course, the irony is that not just the Maryland Institute, but all schools and organizations are knee-deep into the wired world (eleven years after my statement the school dedicated the Brown Center, a brand new building for their digital and offerings). To this date, this has been my greatest prediction. And I will forever be surprised at that episode of precognition. I’ve had a few others since and you might find some in the articles here.

I am very curious. And whenever I start thinking about something I usually end up with something to say. I’m less interested in hearing myself pontificate and more interested in poking, prodding, instigating, but most importantly, participating in conversations about things new and on the cusp. Not everything new is good and there are commercial and government forces at play whenever “newness” morphs into something that can generate capital, monetary, cultural, or political. We live in a time when “something new” seems to appear out of nowhere almost every day. So I am constantly excited and involved in this process.

I am interested in the intersections of creativity, culture, and society. I founded an organization to study the stereotypes of artists in contemporary culture; I’ve found my way into commenting on America’s political stalemates of the early 21st century, and I’ve had the good fortune to work in a great cultural institution, the Smithsonian American Art Museum as a new media producer and managing editor of our organizations blog, Eye Level. I like to immerse myself in as many data points as I can.

What follows are some articles I’ve written over the years. Some are about being an artist in contemporary society and some are about changes the Internet has had on how we work in organizations. Let me know if you have anything to say yourself. As I said, I enjoy chatting.

© 2001-2015 Jeff Gates ISSN 1544-4074