Audiences & Technology Series: Eight Big Thinkers to Watch

Next Wednesday, the grantees of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation’s Continuing Innovation program will come together in New York City to for a three day convening on Audience Engagement & Technology.

They’ve invited eight exciting big thinkers to join them to participate in two days of intensive peer-to-peer group working sessions to stimulate out-of-the-box ideas and to help push their projects into the new territory.  Each guest brings a unique perspective from diverse backgrounds including gaming, journalism, community organizing, ethnographic research, digital media, and graphic facilitation.

Colleen Macklin

Colleen Macklin is an Associate Professor in the Department of Communication Design and Technology at Parsons The New School for Design in New York City and Director of PETLab (Prototyping Evaluation, Teaching and Learning lab), a lab focused on developing games for experimental learning and social engagement. PETLab projects include a curriculum in game design for the Boys and Girls Club, a set of statistical games for the Red Cross Climate Centre, and big games such as Re:Activism and the “fiscal” sport Budgetball. She is a member of the game design collectives Local No. 12 (see and The Leisure Society. Her work has been shown at Come Out and Play, SoundLab, The Whitney Museum for American Art and Creative Time. BFA, Media Arts Pratt Institute, graduate studies in Computer Science, CUNY and International Affairs, The New School.

To learn more about Colleen’s work, check out this video about Budgetball, the “fiscal” sport game, which she helped develop:

Devon Smith

Devon Smith is the Director of Social Media at Threespot, a Washington DC digital engagement agency, where she works with clients such as the National Park Service, Brookings Institution, the Department of State, and Divine Chocolate.  In the past year, she has been featured at more than a dozen conferences covering topics from social media strategy to online personal branding, and from social fundraising to social media metrics.  Earlier in her career, Devon worked at many theatre and dance companies around the country, including Intiman Theatre, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Roundabout Theatre, and Peter Kyle Dance, and other nonprofits such as the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the World Science Festival. 
Devon holds two bachelor’s degrees from the University of Washington, in addition to an MFA in Theatre Management, as well as an MBA, both from Yale University.  You can find much of her research on social media for social good at

To learn more about Devon’s work, check out this talk she did about Foursquare and the Arts at the Culture Lab Conference at the University of Chicago in April 2011:

Michael Zimbalist

Michael Zimbalist  joined The New York Times Company as vice president, research & development operations in January 2006.  Michael leads the development and management of the Company’s newly formed R&D group.  He clarifies and sets the group’s vision to build a vibrant, long-term innovation capability for the Company.  He also oversees mobile technology initiatives for the Company.  Before joining the Times, Michael headed the Online Publishers Association.  He joined the OPA in 2001 as acting executive director and advanced to executive director and then president in 2004.  Previously he was executive vice president of marketing and business development at ePod Corporation from 1999 until 2001.  From 1997 until 1999 he was a general manager of online services at United Media, and from 1995 until 1997 he was a director of development and production and creative director for the Multimedia Group at Capital Cities/ABC. From 1993 until 1995 he was a senior producer at AT&T Downtown Digital, and from 1990 until 1993 he was a writer/producer at Walt Disney Imagineering.  Before that, he was a freelance writer and producer.  Michael received a B.A. degree in chemistry and philosophy from Brown University in 1979.  Follow him on twitter @zimbalist.

To learn more about Michael’s work, watch his PopTech talk where he and Alexis Lloyd, both from the New York Times R&D Lab, describe a new app for memory mapping the news:

Ali Demos

Trained as a cultural anthropologist, Ali Demos leads the Discovery Group at Ogilvy, a video ethnography practice within the strategic planning department.  Discovery has made ethnographic films for many of the agency’s largest clients, including American Express, IBM, Dove, UPS, Merck, Kodak, Lenovo, Kraft, and DuPont.  Prior to taking on the leadership role with Discovery, Ali provided strategic planning for several parts of the American Express business, as well as pro bono projects for the Ad Council.  In her four years as executive director of strategic planning at Hanft Byrne Raboy & Partners, Ali oversaw research and brand strategy for all HBR clients.  Prior to joining HBR, Ali was managing director of research at BSMG Worldwide, where she provided strategic counsel on brand positioning, product development, audience segmentation, Website usability, message and ad testing, naming, and internal brand management.  As Director of Trend Research at Faith Popcorn’s BrainReserve, Ali analyzed popular culture and applied trend-based insights to brand strategy work.  She also created and edited content for Faith’s book, “EVEolution: The Eight Truths of Marketing to Women.”  Ali holds an M.A. in Cultural Anthropology from Princeton and a B.A. in Social Anthropology from Harvard.

To learn more about Ali, read her piece for AdvertisingAge, The Limits of Market-Research Methods:

Bruce Flye

Bruce Flye is a visual practitioner, blending the creative potential of graphic imagery with positive and strengths-based practices in planning, change and innovation. Bruce serves as the Director of Planning and Partnerships at the Brody School of Medicine in Greenville, NC. He also practices independently.  A registered architect, Bruce has applied the principles of planning and design to the physical, academic and organizational aspects of higher education for 18 years. Since 2005, he has explored and developed his skills as an illustrator and graphic facilitator to design and lead engagements that are interactive, creatively-oriented and momentum-building.

To learn more about Bruce’s work, check out this Prezi presentation on graphic facilitation:

Karina Mangu-Ward is the former Director of Strategic Initiatives at EmcArts.