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Power of Design Media Coverage — 4/23/14

Posted by Wolfsonian Staff, filed under General Posts


Highlighted Media Coverage

The Miami Herald, “Wolfsonian’s Power of Design ‘gripe fest’ will focus on solutions,” January 2, 2014

Fast Company, “The Art of Whining: Top Designers Visualize Their Biggest Complaints,” February 14, 2014 

The New York Times, “Greasing a Squeaky Wheel,” February 25, 2014

The Miami Herald, “Major discussion at the Wolfsonian-FIU to explore whether the Internet is a blessing or a curse,” February 27, 2014

The Miami Sun Sentinel, “What's the big idea?” February 27, 2014 

The South Florida Business Journal, “Digital ‘prophets’ talk in Miami is free to public,” March 18, 2014 

Miami.com, “Wolfsonian-FIU's Power of Design 'gripe fest' focuses on solutions for Miami,” March 19, 2014

WLRN, “FIU’s ‘Complaints Choir’ Shows the World its Whine List,” March 19, 2014

WLRN, “Micro Theatre, Macro Complaints,” March 20, 2014

Travel + Leisure, “Complain for Change at the Power of Design Panel,” March 24, 2014

WLRN, “The Most Adorable Complaint Ever And Other Highlights From Our Pop-Up Complaints Booth,” March 26, 2014

The Atlantic, “ ‘NO WIFI? UUUUGGGH!’: The Important Art of Complaining,” March 27, 2014 

MetroCitizen.net, “The Wolfsonian–FIU Presented First Ever 'Power of Design' Festival Featuring World Renowned Visionaries,” April 2, 2014

Design Observer, “Inalienable Rights, Wolfsonian-Style,” April 4, 2014 

Miami Rail, “Designing Complaints,” Spring 2014 

All Media Coverage

The Miami Herald, “SOLVE THIS MIAMI! $25,000 grant application,” January 31, 2014

The Miami Herald, “Wolfsonian’s Power of Design ‘gripe fest’ will focus on solutions,” January 2, 2014 

Miami New Times, “SOLVE THIS MIAMI! $25,000 grant application”, February 3, 2014 

Knightfoundation.org, “The Wolfsonian–Florida International University to create deeper community connections and idea exchange through Miami’s first-ever ‘Power of Design’ festival,” February 4, 2014 

Fast Company, “The Art Of Whining: Top Designers Visualize Their Biggest Complaints,” February 14, 2014 

The Miami Herald, “Power of Design: Kick-Off,” February 20, 2014 

Urbandaddy.com, “You’re Not Complaining, But…,” February 20, 2014

SunPost, “Social: Wolfsonian–FIU Power Of Design Festival Featuring World Renowned Visionaries,” February 20, 2014 

Miami Socialholic, “Don’t Miss: Funkshion: Fashion Week Miami, Wolfsonian-FIU Inaugurates Power of Design 2014, MOCA Presents a Night of Music, Miami-Dade County Youth Fair & Exposition and Miami Rescue Mission, and Afrojack Launches Capsule Collection at G-Star RAW,” February 20, 2014 

The New York Times, “Greasing a Squeaky Wheel,” February 25, 2014

The Miami Herald, “Major discussion at the Wolfsonian–FIU to explore whether the Internet is a blessing or a curse,” February 27,2014

The Miami Sun Sentinel, “What's the big idea?” February 27, 2014 

Cultured Magazine, “The Wolfsonian Ideas Festival,” March 10, 2014 

Soul of Miami, “Power of Design 2014: Complaints at the Wolfsonian–FIU museum 3/20/2014-3/23/2014,” March 12, 2014 

The Miami Herald, “Power of Design: Kick-Off,” March 12, 2014 

The Miami Herald, “Power of Design: Solutions! New Ideas and Art Made From Everyday Things You Might Otherwise Throw Away,” March 13, 2014 

Sofla Nights, “Power of Design 2014: Complaints at the Wolfsonian-FIU Museum,” March 13, 2014 

The South Florida Business Journal, “Digital ‘prophets’ talk in Miami is free to public,” March 18, 2014 

TransitMiami.com, “Event—Power of Design 2014: Complaints,” March 18, 2014 

Miami.com, Wolfsonian–FIU's Power of Design 'gripe fest' focuses on solutions for Miami, March 19, 2014

WLRN, “FIU’s ‘Complaints Choir’ Shows the World its Whine List,” March 19, 2014

WLRN, “Tell Us Your Complaints About City Life! Live Chat 10 a.m. Saturday,” March 20, 2014

WLRN, “Micro Theater, Macro Complaints,” March 20, 2014

Social Miami, “Complaints! An Inalienable Right—Exhibition Opening,” March 20, 2014 

The Miami Herald, “Power of Design: Kick-off,” March 20, 2014 

Refresh Miami, “Power of Design 2014,” March 22, 2014 

The Miami Herald, “Panel to focus on watchdog journalism,” March 22, 2014 

AP (syndicated), “Miami forum looks at how complaints improve life,” March 23, 2014

Travel + Leisure, “Complain for Change at the Power of Design Panel,” March 24, 2014

WLRN, “The Most Adorable Complaint Ever And Other Highlights From Our Pop-Up Complaints Booth,” March 26, 2014

The Atlantic, “ ‘NO WIFI? UUUUGGGH!’: The Important Art of Complaining,” March 27, 2014

Sun Post!, “Social: Wolfsonian–FIU Power of Design Festival Featuring World Renowned Visionaries,” April 2, 2014 

MetroCitizen.net, “The Wolfsonian–FIU Presented First Ever 'Power of Design' Festival Featuring World Renowned Visionaries,” April 2, 2014

Design Observer, “Inalienable Rights, Wolfsonian-Style,” April 4, 2014 

AzureAzure.com, “Power of Design Ideas Festival,” April 4, 2014

Miami Rail, “Designing Complaints,” Spring 2014 


Caption: Painting, Strike News, 1937. Minna Citron, artist. Oil on canvas. The Wolfsonian–FIU, The Mitchell Wolfson, Jr. Collection.


Complaint of the Week — 3/21/14

Posted by Wolfsonian Staff, filed under General Posts

Power of Design: Complaints is finally here! In honor of what will likely be a complaint-worthy drive to Miami Beach to attend the ideas festival, we have yet another traffic-related COTW (click here to listen). Apparently there are reckless and inconsiderate drivers on our roads, and some of them are texting. The Complaints Line remains ready and waiting for your call: 305.535.2633. As for us? We wish you safe travels on whatever roads you are on!



 
Caption: Telephone, c. 1920. Stromberg-Carlson Telephone Manufacturing Co., Rochester, New York, manufacturer. Metal, plastic, textile. The Wolfsonian–FIU, Gift of Charles L. Marshall, Jr.

Your Food Sux: Yelp and the Malicious Complaint — 3/21/14

Posted by Shawn Clybor, filed under General Posts




Earlier this week I explored the idea of design as a medium for complaints. I argued that design can facilitate the resolution of complaints (see my interview with Power of Design presenter Ashlea Powell of IDEO for more on that topic), or that it can facilitate the act of complaining itself. 

Take Yelp for instance, an online review website and social media platform that allows users to post reviews and recommendations (anonymous or otherwise) of local businesses. I became a Yelp convert shortly after its creation in 2004, and have used it ever since as my primary means of finding good coffee, vegan restaurants, and atmospheric bars that use old timey light bulbs. (Follow me on Yelp here.) Yelp is even more useful in the smartphone era, because you can look things up on the fly. For example, when my wife and I had to spend the night in Boise (long story) we were able to find an awesome cafe with vegan pastries.

If you're still using Yellow Pages (does anyone?) you're doing it wrong.

As you can imagine, Yelp is a great place to complain because customers and business owners will hear what you have to say. Yelp offers a variety of feedback mechanisms for other users to show their support (or not)—you can write direct messages to other users, friend them and follow their posts, or simply "like" individual reviews by labeling them "funny," "useful," or "cool." People definitely pay attention. When I reviewed the amazing NYC vegan restaurant Candle 79, I received a message from the owner the following week thanking me for my hilarious support. (I described the experience of eating her food as something similar to having sex while angels massage my shoulders and the Mormon tabernacle choir sings the concluding refrain from Orff's Carmina Burana over and over until the sky shatters.)

Although I find it extremely useful, not everyone appreciates Yelp. Customer feedback is essential to business growth, development, and success. As a result, Yelp's "honest broker" status has been scrutinized intensely. The company continues to face (and has not entirely disproved) allegations that businesses can suppress or eliminate critical reviews for the right price. Others have questioned Yelps's "automated review filter," which deletes reviews that are determined to be "false" or "inappropriate." Some business owners have faced accusations that they recruit employees and friends, or pay a third party, to write positive reviews. Other business owners have filed (or threatened to file) lawsuits against the authors of critical reviews, accusing them of defamation and slander.

The ongoing popularity and controversy of Yelp thus points to a key problem when it comes to the idea of "complaints" as a "system-stabilizing" mechanism for governments, or an "opportunity" for businesses to design better customer experiences. Simply put, some complaints are malicious. They intend only to do harm and therefore their complaints serve a negative, destructive function. Conversely, the object of our complaints (person, business, or otherwise) sometimes has no desire to improve or change their behaviors or practices. Instead, they prefer to accuse the complainer of being incorrect, delusional, or malicious.

So how do we know when a complaint is useful, or the complainer honest? When should a business or government listen to complaints, and when should it disregard them? These are crucial questions that should not be disregarded.

Shawn Clybor is a cultural historian of East-Central Europe and a former Fulbright-Hays Scholar. He has published several articles on the relationship between art and politics in communist Czechoslovakia and post-communist Czech Republic. He is currently cataloguing a private collection of Czech avant-garde books and teaching at the Ross School. He earned a Ph.D. in history from Northwestern University in 2010.

Caption: Book, Rights of Man, 1961. Thomas Paine, author. Lynd Kendall Ward, illustrator. Heritage Press, New York, publisher. The Wolfsonian–FIU, The Mitchell Wolfson, Jr. Collection.
 

Got a Miami Complaint? — 3/20/14

Posted by Wolfsonian Staff, filed under General Posts



Got something to complain about in Miami? Discover and report issues in your community and connect with your neighbors using SeeClickFix’s amazing app. Take a photo or video, share on Facebook and Twitter and vote for the issues that matter to you! Or check out what others are talking about by viewing the map. We’ll be tracking and sharing your reports throughout #PowerofDesign from March 20–23.

Our Cruisers Can’t Repel Complaints of That Magnitude: Design as a Medium for Complaints — 3/20/14

Posted by Shawn Clybor, filed under General Posts



Power of Design’s focus is to explore complaints from a solutions-driven perspective, with an emphasis on design and design strategies. Complaints can have a direct impact on design—an idea I explored in an earlier post on this blog on the Xbox One video game system, which underwent substantial revisions in response to an outpouring of consumer complaints. But consider another scenario: How can the creation of an object or system impact our complaints?

To this end, from the perspective of Power of Design, design has at least two functions: First, it serves as a response or resolution to grievances. In essence, designers find things that need to be fixed and then offer solutions to fix them. I have previously referred to this as “building a better mousetrap.” This dynamic of complaining is considered in several of the upcoming Power of Design programs, including Steve Heller’s poster exhibit Complaints! An Inalienable Right. (And if you would like to experiment with your own solution-driven complaining, or just view the process in action, stop by the “Complaints” section of the Power of Design website here.)

However, design can also have a second important function by accommodating or facilitating the airing of grievances (without necessarily attempting to resolve them). Take, for instance, the official website of the White House, which under the Obama administration has introduced a petition feature that allows citizens to air grievances in a public forum. To assure that these grievances are solution-oriented, each petition must begin with the sentence “We believe the Obama administration should…” If a petition receives at least 100,000 endorsements, White House staff members are obliged to review it and issue an official response. 

Currently, the petitions with the highest endorsements include:

Deport Justin Bieber and revoke his green card. (268,011 signatures)

Declare Muslim Brotherhood organization as a terrorist group. (205,433 signatures)

Pardon Edward Snowden. (154,703 signatures)

The petitions with official responses (a few directly from President Obama) include “A Comprehensive Approach to Wall Street Reform,” “Gun Violence,” and “Addressing the Freedoms of Speech and Religion.” My personal favorite is the response to the petition “Secure resources and funding, and begin construction of a Death Star by 2016.” Paul Shawcross, Chief of the Science and Space Branch at the White House Office of Management and Budget, responded that although “The administration shares your desire for job creation and a strong national defense,” the construction of a Death Star would increase the federal debt by about two million percent for something that can be destroyed by a “one-man starship.”

It would be easy to disregard the White House petitions as ineffective at best, if not silly and pointless. Nevertheless, and regardless of the actual political impact, the petitions website facilitates communication between the U.S. government and its citizens, and thus serves a crucial “regime stabilizing” function. Ridiculous petitions for things like Death Stars do not undermine this process; to the contrary, they demonstrate that the government, like its citizens, has a sense of humor. It makes government personal and personable. More importantly, and no matter how ridiculous the grievance, the federal government is abiding by its constitutional obligation to entertain the petition. It is symbolic government in action.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to complete my own Bieber petition. Instead of deporting him, I am requesting that we throw him into a vat of pudding and feed him to Bill Cosby.

Shawn Clybor is a cultural historian of East-Central Europe and a former Fulbright-Hays Scholar. He has published several articles on the relationship between art and politics in communist Czechoslovakia and post-communist Czech Republic. He is currently cataloguing a private collection of Czech avant-garde books and teaching at the Ross School. He earned a Ph.D. in history from Northwestern University in 2010.

Caption: Book, An American ABC, 1941. Maud Fuller Petersham  and Miska Petersham, authors and illustrators. William C. D. Glaser, lithographer. The MacMillan Company, New York, publisher. The Wolfsonian–FIU, Gift of Francis X. Luca. 

Why Don’t You Mind Your Own Business? New York City, the Museum of Complaints — 3/19/14

Posted by Shawn Clybor, filed under General Posts



Over the last few days, I’ve posted some complaint letters from Matthew Bakkom’s 2009 book New York City Museum of Complaints, which you can find here and here. In my third and final post on Bakkom’s collection, I wanted to explore some of the complaints sent to Mayor Fiorello H. La Guardia, who served three terms from 1934 to 1945.

La Guardia, a liberal Republican who supported Franklin Roosevelt’s “New Deal,” governed New York through one of the most tumultuous periods of modern American history. Among his many concerns: mass unemployment caused by the Great Depression, the rise of Nazism and anti-Semitism in New York, and the outbreak of the Second World War. Many of the letters to him in Museum of Complaints address these topics. Especially contentious (though certainly prescient) were his 1937 remarks that Nazi Germany’s pavilion at the upcoming New York World’s Fair would be a “chamber of horrors” for “that brown-shirted fanatic.” 

If Bakkom’s selection of letters is any indication, the public response, especially by German-Americans, was overwhelmingly negative. Ernest Krafft accused La Guardia of being a “Bowery bum” who fostered “racial hatred.” I. Siegel denounced La Guardia’s “deliberate insult of Fuehrer Hitler,” as “planned Jewish propaganda.” The butcher Benjamin Rosenfeld demanded to know why La Guardia defended German Jews but allowed the Jews of New York to engage in (allegedly) shady business practices. “[Y]ou are spreading hatred between Jews and Christians,” he lamented, “WHY DON’T YOU MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS?” 

Not all of the mayor’s critics were of German ancestry. Frederick B. Wright, a resident of the Financial District, demanded to know: “Was it an oversight that caused you to omit the murderous Mussolini and the bloodthirsty Stalin from your diatribe against dictatorships?” Ultimately, it was La Guardia himself who, as a “self-described liberal,” shared a long heritage with “every dictator in history.”

Some Jews were also critical of La Guardia’s comments, although for different reasons. According to I. Goldstein, La Guardia’s “stupid remarks about foreign governments” had done nothing to counter the effects of anti-Semitism “in American business.” Instead, Goldstein encouraged the mayor to “Do your job right here in this city. That is what we are paying you for.”

M. Cohen seemed more sympathetic, suggesting that instead of a “Chamber of Horrors,” the city of New York create a “Chamber of Comics,” in which the “Brown Shirted Clowns” could “fire at each other to their heart’s content.” All joking aside, Cohen concluded that “the sensible German people will finally find a cure for their chief comic bully,” and implored the Mayor to “give them no further recognition, verbal or otherwise,” because criticizing the Nazis only made them “more violent.”

Of course, not every letter to La Guardia was quite so portentous. Even as the international community lurched towards the greatest catastrophe in recorded history, a man known only by the initials “J.P.C.” still found time to threaten the mayor with violence if he did nothing to prevent restaurants from charging fifteen cents for three slices of tomato on two leafs of lettuce.

That says a lot about our priorities. As I scan the Huffington Post, I no longer feel bad that ominous headlines about the Russian invasion of Ukraine are immediately followed by puff pieces like “What Everyone Should Know About the Female Orgasm…” and “The Most Common Gray Hair Myths Debunked.” 

Admit it. You clicked the orgasm story. 

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. 

Shawn Clybor is a cultural historian of East-Central Europe and a former Fulbright-Hays Scholar. He has published several articles on the relationship between art and politics in communist Czechoslovakia and post-communist Czech Republic. He is currently cataloguing a private collection of Czech avant-garde books and teaching at the Ross School. He earned a Ph.D. in history from Northwestern University in 2010.

Caption: Postcard, New York From the 34th Street Ferry, from The Art-Lover’s New York, c. 1914. Rachael Robinson Elmer, illustrator. P. F. Volland & Co., Chicago, publisher. The Wolfsonian–FIU, The Mitchell Wolfson, Jr. Collection.

Grant Me a Medal! New York City, the Museum of Complaints — 3/16/14

Posted by Shawn Clybor, filed under General Posts



Here is another fantastic letter from Matthew Bakkom’s 2009 book New York City Museum of Complaints, which documents the evolution of complaining in New York through a selection of letters addressed to the mayor from 1751 to 1969. In this letter, “Prisoner’s Friend,” Linda Gilbert seeks recognition for her heroic defense of New York’s tired, poor, and huddled masses. 

Dec. 9th, 1891. 
Mayor Grant

            Dear Sir
I write to ask you
if you will kindly
send me a medal
that will entitle
me to protect from
abuse those of my
fellow creatures
that I come in
contact with from day to day – It is
not long since I
saw an officer
dragging a drunken
woman by her hair.
I got out of a
street car to protect
her. I spoke kindly
to her; and told
the officer that she
was going into
the ‘tremens.’ [i.e. delirium tremens] That
he should be kind
to her, & see that she
was taken to an
hospital. Tears
came into the poor
creatures [sic]  eyes, and
she said “God bless
you marm!”
I have always been
the friend of the
oppressed, and I ask
this medal in remembrance of the
work I have done
for the past twenty
years in this city &
state, without remuneration.
Enclosed find
synopsis &
notices of my work.

            With all good
            wishes, -- I am
            very respectfully
            Linda Gilbert,
            Prisoner’s Friend

P.S.
Be Assured Sir
that ‘privilege’ I ask
will, if granted, never,
in any way, be
misused.
            L.G.

I selected this letter because it’s funny, but it also raises some questions about what it means to “complain.” On the surface, Gilbert is not airing a grievance so much as making a bizarre request for a medal that grants her police immunity. But when we read this letter more closely, another narrative begins to emerge. Because Gilbert was a woman, more direct (and aggressive) forms of complaint were most likely denied to her as unladylike. In this light her request serves a dual function; it is not merely a defense of those who are less fortunate, but a condemnation of abusive behavior by local law enforcement. 

It seems absurd to grant someone a medal for something so basic as preventing a police officer from beating a woman in public, but this is an irony that Gilbert seems to recognize. Indeed, note her use of quotation marks around the word “privilege,” which suggests that her request might be more complex than it seems. Her subtle criticism of law enforcement officials who abuse their powers is not a request for privilege so much as it is a defense of basic human rights.

Go here for the first blog post on the Museum of Complaints.

Shawn Clybor is a cultural historian of East-Central Europe and a former Fulbright-Hays Scholar. He has published several articles on the relationship between art and politics in communist Czechoslovakia and post-communist Czech Republic. He is currently cataloguing a private collection of Czech avant-garde books and teaching at the Ross School. He earned a Ph.D. in history from Northwestern University in 2010.

Caption: Postcard, The Woolworth Building. New York City, c. 1913. The American Art Publishing Co., New York City, publisher. The Wolfsonian–FIU, Gift of Pedro Angel Figueredo. 

Life in the Digital Age — 3/15/14

Posted by Andrea Gollin, filed under General Posts


Is your life better or worse (or both?) thanks to the Internet? How’s your relationship with your smartphone? What degree of intimacy have you reached with your tablet? If you woke up tomorrow in a world with no Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, or Google, would you feel despair, elation, indifference, or all of the above? And (you can tell us, it’s okay) when’s the last time you texted while driving?

“I fear that we are beginning to design ourselves to suit digital models of us, and I worry about a leaching of empathy and humanity in that process,” writes virtual reality pioneer Jaron Lanier, who has become a vocal critic of the digital culture he helped create.

During the museum’s program Prophets of the Digital Age: Jaron Lanier, Clive Thompson, and Michael Chabon in Conversation with Kurt Andersen, a program Power of Design 2014: Complaints, Lanier discusses his change of heart in a provocative dialogue with the ardently pro-digital Clive Thompson, author and Wired magazine columnist who had his own conversion from Internet skeptic to supporter, and Michael Chabon, Pulitzer Prize–winning novelist who is both pro-technology and a committed nostalgist. The conversation is facilitated by novelist and radio host Kurt Andersen. 

Prophets of the Digital Age is co-presented by The Wolfsonian and Intelligence Squared London and takes place at Pérez Art Museum Miami on Saturday, March 22 at 7pm. The program is free, with advance registration required.

Complaint of the Week — 3/14/14

Posted by Wolfsonian Staff, filed under General Posts

This week we’ve got a litany, and it’s all on us. Complaining about the message on the Complaints Line, the advertising for Power of Design, and the ideas festival itself—that’s our COTW (click to listen). We’re glad our caller got it all out. As for our readers, if you have questions about Power of Design, hop onto the website and poke around. If you’ve still got questions, call or e-mail. And if you’ve got complaints? The Complaints Line is here for you, at 305.535.2633.

Caption: Telephone, c. 1920. Stromberg-Carlson Telephone Manufacturing Co., Rochester, New York, manufacturer. Metal, plastic, textile. The Wolfsonian–FIU, Gift of Charles L. Marshall, Jr.

Apply for a Power of Design Fellowship! — 3/14/14

Posted by Wolfsonian Staff, filed under General Posts