In this presentation, Anne Balsamo outlines her approach to the study and practice of technology-based innovation and argues that the real business of innovation is the reproduction of culture over time and place. Understanding innovation as a social-technical-cultural process, Balsamo insists on the important role of humanists in the technological reproduction of culture. Because their work seriously considers questions of ethics, cultural and social good, and intentional future-making, these "cultural workers" need to be actively engaged in the process whereby new technologies are developed and deployed. Balsamo focuses on two projects: the design of public interactives and the creation of interactive experiences for the AIDS Memorial Quilt.
Anne Balsamo has worked in innovative ways across the academy and the private sector, investigating and designing technologies that serve social justice and the public good. She serves as the Dean of the School of Media Studies at The New School in New York City. Her most recent book, Designing Culture: The Technological Imagination at Work (Duke, 2011) examines the relationship between culture and technological innovation, with a particular focus on the role of the humanities in cultural innovation. Previously, she was a Full Professor at the University of Southern California, where she held joint appointments in the Annenberg School for Communication and the Interactive Media Division of the School of Cinematic Arts. From 2004-2007, she served as the Director of the Institute for Multimedia Literacy at USC, where she created one of the first academic programs in multimedia literacy across the curriculum. In 1998, she left a tenured faculty position at Georgia Institute of Technology to join a research-design group at Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) that created experimental reading devices and new media genres. In 2002, she co-founded Onomy Labs, Inc., a Silicon Valley technology design and fabrication company that builds cultural technologies. Her first book, Technologies of the Gendered Body: Reading Cyborg Women (Duke, 1996), investigates the social and cultural implications of emergent bio-technologies.