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Reflections from Ross: Art, Tech, and Civic Life in NYC

This session on Technologized Civic Life at Techonomy Detroit 2015 was moderated by the Atlantic's Jim Fallows.

This session on Technologized Civic Life at Techonomy Detroit 2015 was moderated by the Atlantic’s Jim Fallows.

I’m writing this week’s post from Civic Hall in NYC, a fantastic co-working, gathering, and events space just around the corner from Techonomy’s office on West 22nd Street. It’s a place that services a tight community of techies, private and public sector entrepreneurs, innovators, hackers, academics, activists and more at the intersection of tech, politics and civic life. A little over a year old, Civic Hall represents the physical manifestation of the Personal Democracy Forum, an annual conference organized by Micah Sifry and Andrew Rasiej that showcases all that is happening in the wide world of global civic tech. The place is always buzzing…every major city should have a Civic Hall.

While there, I bumped into curator and art writer Isabel Draves and Dawn Barber, co-founder of New York Tech Meetup, huddled over a laptop. They were busily planning and organizing the first NYC Creative Tech Week, April 29-May 8. The intersection of tech, media, creativity, art and design has always been an area of interest, and it’s great to see a full week of dedicated programming come together. There’s so much going on it will take me hours just to figure out what to go and see.  It seemed fitting that they were working on this at Civic Hall. It illuminates how our new generation of civic life will be infused with principles of design, democracy, and the remaking of culture through new technologies and principles.

In many ways the links below from Techonomy’s conferences and content demonstrate this intersection. They show us how art has always held up a mirror to show us society’s greatest possibilities as well as its most looming challenges. New technologies essentially do the same thing. Which brings us back, I think, to the importance of civic life and cities. Technology, like design, is a collective enterprise in which each of us can play a role. That is why the intersection of civic tech, design and creativity is necessary not just in NYC, but in cities around the world (check out our Techonomy Detroit content!)

Here are some related Techonomy links:

Art & Design

Designer, technologist and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers partner John Maeda’s TE13 talk on the importance of art education. (At the time he was president of the Rhode Island School of Design.)

From the last issue of Techonomy magazine

Our interview with MOMA’s Paola Antonelli “Without design, innovation doesn’t happen” (p. 26) and Isabel Walcott Draves article on The Rise of BioArt (p.44)

Artist and computer scientist Benjamin De Kosnik on At the Crossword of Tech and Identity (unfortunately the video does not capture the art, Equal Weight Uhuras, for that you should go here.)

The Creativity Code, a TE13 panel with Soundcloud CEO Alex Ljung, John Maeda, Magisto CMO (and lead singer of Assembly of Dust) Reid Genauer, Autodesk’s Jordan Brandt and computer science professor, author and artist David Gelernter.

Making Art with Brainscans and 3D Printers, a Techonomy magazine article about the work of visual artist and sculptor Suzanne Anker.

Cities and Civic Life

Complex-Cities: The View from Mexico City an interview with Gabriella Gómez-Mont the Director of the City Laboratory of Mexico City

Get Engaged! Our Technologized Civic Life a session with Jennifer Crozier of IBM, Annmarie Levins of MSFT, Lauren Hood of Deep Dive Detroit and John Webb of Google on why our biggest tech companies are so fascinated with civic life, what motivates people to get involved and whether all this tech is really bringing community back to the neighbourhood and cities.

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