In the FALL of 2015 I stARTED my first year in the Interactive Telecommunications Program at NYU. Here is a personal statement I sent their way with my application.
I am not considered the best in my field. I cannot build everything I so strongly speak and dream of. I do not have solutions to all of the problems I fall in love with and passionately critique. I do not fully know how far I can push my work, just like I do not know what the boundaries and limits of that work are. And I hope I never am, never can, and never do.
What I do hope is to be continuously surrounded by individuals who push and pull at these problems, boundaries, and limits. I hope to constantly have the opportunity to expand my ideas to places they could not reach purely through me, and allow them to achieve deeper levels of engagement. I hope to work in environments where each prospect is challenged in ways that are outside of my own frame of reference. I hope to create work that focuses on the user, viewer, and communicator, and on what our new technological tools mean for us as a communicating whole. I am fortunate enough to be living in a perfect storm of new technologies, media, tools, habits, expectations, and issues. Each of these churns and swirls into important challenges that provide endless opportunities to play with individuals who have these same hopes.
We are continuously presented with amazing technologies, and with each one comes a multitude of questions and problems: questions and problems that those of us with the privilege to pull them apart must not ignore. As a designer, it has felt all too common to witness others in my field reaching a level of complacency regarding their interaction with and creation of these new technologies. Many designers rely heavily on the bells and whistles of what the technology can do rather than reversing the question and asking what the tools should be doing for us as humans. There will always be striking new tricks we can create with technology, but these are tools for people, just as the telephone and the printing press were. We must be willing to ask the right questions in order to utilize them in ways that benefit us as humans and communicators, rather than adding more noise through the work we put out.
An example of an opportunity to ask different questions is the use of the immense quantities of data we put out each day. Whether through our phones or through platforms such as Facebook, we are creating stories that are currently utilized for ends that are not human centered, such as the rise of pervasive targeted ads. But, data is human. Data tells our story. There are immense ethical implications that come with the stories that can be told from these vast quantities of data, implications that deserve critique and conversation. But, there are also very human opportunities within the billions of bits collected each day. A current example of one of these opportunities is the use of location check-ins on platforms such as Facebook and Foursquare to prove the duration of residency in the country by U.S. immigrants. This data is being used to tell a story and this technology is being used for a very human end, completely separate from its originally designed intent.
Society will always find a way to make technologies work in a more human way, just as the printed word moved from the control of religious institutions to the hands of the people. So, as a designer I have an immense opportunity to study us as humans and build tools with that in mind. I have the chance to take the seemingly intangible and inhuman elements of technology to a human place that facilitates communication and interaction on a level that is beneficial. Technology, whether it is a letter, a table, or an iPhone, is what facilitates human interaction, and human interaction may be the singular most important part of our society. Building, designing, and experimenting with these beliefs in mind is what I wish to do as I further develop into my role as a designer.
In short, I do not just wish to apply to a graduate school; I wish to apply to ITP. I wish to have the opportunity to take the critical thinking and passion for these opportunities to a place where they can be utilized at a level that creates a conversation or change. I do not just want the chance to work with impressive technologies, but to have the opportunity to experiment with what they can do for us. I do not only hope to expand my own horizons, but to welcome collaboration that can bring about work I could never fully fathom. ITP provides a beautiful space for that.