Just a quick note before the holidays: I’m thrilled to announce that I’ve joined the Institute for the Future in Palo Alto as a Research Fellow!

IFTF is a unique non-profit with a 50 year history of creating practical foresight for a world undergoing rapid change. The Institute utilizes a core research staff, creative design studio, and a range of affiliates to bring a diversity of perspectives and experiences to difficult problems and new ideas. I’m excited to start working with a great community of researchers on ideas that can improve design, ethics, and user experience for worldwide applications.

I’ve long been an admirer of IFTF and its executive director, Marina Gorbis, so it’s a great honor to join her team. For me, this is also an opportunity to extend the independent research I’ve been doing over the last two years at the Berkman Klein Center of Harvard and the MIT Center for Civic Media (and I’m incredibly grateful to both institutions for helping me broaden my outlook on the future).

I’ll focus most of my IFTF work on extending ongoing research in three topic areas:

  • Power: What, fundamentally, is power in all its incarnations — from the natural energies of growth and tidal forces, to power in socio-political relations? How is it created? How is it used? “Power” is IFTF’s theme for 2019, so I’ll be joining IFTF Program Director Rod Falcon on exploring this concept.
  • User Experience and Mixed Reality: Augmented reality continues to be an intriguing but challenging technology, still burdened by many user experience barriers which impede mass consumer adoption. There’s so much to explore here, and I’m excited to collaborate with Emerging Media Lab Director Toshi Hoo on new developments in user experience and virtual mixed reality!
  • Calm Design Pattern Library: How can we build ethical, universal, and sustainable technologies that amplify humanness, instead of take it away? I believe a pattern library built around calm design principles will be helpful and iconic for UX designers looking to integrate ethics and human-centered time into their products and services. This is a response to a many requests by conference audiences when I’ve discussed my work on Calm Technology. It’s also an homage to Mark Weiser and John Seely Brown’s original research papers in this area.

Above all, joining the IFTF is a chance to think about the long term in relation to our highly uncertain present. There are so many new implications we need to think about — for instance, when and how we automate, and the ethical considerations around technological applications that are already impacting every aspect of our lives. We need solid, researched futures, a deep consideration of all the elements which shape our tomorrows — and a dedication to designing paths to the best future for everyone.

I hope you’ll join me in that discussion on Twitter, and next year, with the Institute for the Future! For more information on IFTF, visit their website at iftf.org.