Jeffrey Schnapp

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Jeffrey Schnapp

Cultural Historian & Expert on Future of Innovation and Technology; Autonomous Vehicles Authority & CEO, Piaggio Fast Forward; Catalyzing Force in Digital Humanities; Professor, Harvard

Biography

Cultural historian and design practitioner Jeffrey T. Schnapp believes the past is a critically important lens for informing and imagining the future.

Schnapp’s work focuses on bridging what’s happened with what’s possible through the fields of technology and design. His latest venture is Piaggio Fast Forward, a Cambridge-based company devoted to developing innovative transportation solutions by combining Piaggio design with MIT technology. He serves as chief executive officer of the startup, which harnesses the intelligence, sustainability and efficiency of information systems to produce solutions like Gita, the autonomous cargo vehicle.

Professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Design and in the faculty of arts and science, he is co-director of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society, and founder and faculty director of metaLAB (at) Harvard, a knowledge and technology design studio dedicated to exploring and expanding the frontiers of networked culture. A leading international figure in the digital media field, Schnapp has designed and led a number of pioneering software development and design projects, and is the author of an influential corpus of publications that includes several hundred essays and 25 books. Among his most recent is “The Library Beyond the Book” (Harvard University Press, 2014), which explores future scenarios for libraries in the digital age. “Blueprint for Counter Education — Expanded Reprint,” forthcoming in March 2016 with Inventory Books, is a new edition of Maurice Stein and Larry Miller’s 1970 work of radical pedagogy.

In addition to widespread coverage in the international press, Schnapp’s research has received support from such prestigious foundations as the Guggenheim, the National Science Foundation, Getty, the National Endowment for the Humanities, Hewlett, Graham and Knight. His work in the domains of design, digital arts and curatorial practice includes collaborations with the Triennale di Milano, the Cantor Center for the Visual Arts, the Wolfsonian-FIU and the Canadian Center for Architecture.

Schnapp is also a highly respected advisor and consultant, encompassing such fields as biopharmaceuticals, media and publishing, architecture, furniture design, automobiles, museums and libraries.

Jeffrey Schnapp is available for paid speaking engagements including keynote addresses, speeches, panels, conference talks, and advisory/consulting services through the exclusive representation of Stern Speakers, a division of Stern Strategy Group®.

Videos

Books & Research

FuturPiaggio: Six Italian Lessons on Mobility and Modern Life

(Rizzoli, March 21, 2017)

Blueprint for Counter Education

(Expanded Reprint: ArtBook/DAP, March 2016)

The Library Beyond the Book

(Harvard University Press, July 7, 2014)

Knowledge Design

(VolkswagenStiftung, Hanover 2014)

Digital Humanities

(The MIT Press, 2012)

Modernitalia

(Peter Lang AG, Internationaler Verlag der Wissenschaften; 1st new edition, August 15, 2012)

The Electronic Information Age Book

(Princeton Architectural Press; annotated edition, January 25, 2012)

Speed Limites

(Skira, September 8, 2009)

Crowds

(Stanford University Press, 1st edition, June 28, 2006)

Revolutionary Tides: The Art of the Political Poster 1941-1989

(Skira, 2005)

Staging Fascism: 18BL and the Theater of Masses for Masses

(Stanford University Press, 1st edition, August 1, 1996)

A-Z Name

Schnapp, Jeffrey

Biography

Cultural historian and design practitioner Jeffrey T. Schnapp believes the past is a critically important lens for informing and imagining the future.

Schnapp’s work focuses on bridging what’s happened with what’s possible through the fields of technology and design. His latest venture is Piaggio Fast Forward, a Cambridge-based company devoted to developing innovative transportation solutions by combining Piaggio design with MIT technology. He serves as chief executive officer of the startup, which harnesses the intelligence, sustainability and efficiency of information systems to produce solutions like Gita, the autonomous cargo vehicle.

Professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Design and in the faculty of arts and science, he is co-director of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society, and founder and faculty director of metaLAB (at) Harvard, a knowledge and technology design studio dedicated to exploring and expanding the frontiers of networked culture. A leading international figure in the digital media field, Schnapp has designed and led a number of pioneering software development and design projects, and is the author of an influential corpus of publications that includes several hundred essays and 25 books. Among his most recent is “The Library Beyond the Book” (Harvard University Press, 2014), which explores future scenarios for libraries in the digital age. “Blueprint for Counter Education — Expanded Reprint,” forthcoming in March 2016 with Inventory Books, is a new edition of Maurice Stein and Larry Miller’s 1970 work of radical pedagogy.

In addition to widespread coverage in the international press, Schnapp’s research has received support from such prestigious foundations as the Guggenheim, the National Science Foundation, Getty, the National Endowment for the Humanities, Hewlett, Graham and Knight. His work in the domains of design, digital arts and curatorial practice includes collaborations with the Triennale di Milano, the Cantor Center for the Visual Arts, the Wolfsonian-FIU and the Canadian Center for Architecture.

Schnapp is also a highly respected advisor and consultant, encompassing such fields as biopharmaceuticals, media and publishing, architecture, furniture design, automobiles, museums and libraries.

Jeffrey Schnapp is available for paid speaking engagements including keynote addresses, speeches, panels, conference talks, and advisory/consulting services through the exclusive representation of Stern Speakers, a division of Stern Strategy Group®.

Speech Topics

Defining Autonomy: Self-Driving Cars are Only the Beginning

When we talk about autonomous technologies, the conversation often centers on automobiles because right now, they’re the most visible expression of the future of smart machines. But self-driving cars are just the tip of the iceberg, says Jeffrey Schnapp. It’s the entry point to the much bigger domain of personal robotics. But a critical question remains unanswered: what do we want them to do? Schnapp explores various definitions and interpretations of autonomy. For what purposes? In what contexts? He also dissects and discusses the substantial societal, ethical and cultural choices – and consequences – embedded in the tasks we assign to machines.

The technology exists, explains Schnapp. But organizations want to know, where are the growth markets? What are the use scenarios? The models of labor? What are the opportunities and the obstacles? And of course, what’s the bigger story and how do they lead customers to buy it and integrate it into their lives? Using the automobile sector and his work with Piaggio Fast Forward as one example, Schnapp delves into these questions and more, providing a broader framework to think about these issues and grab hold of the true value presented by our autonomous future.

Historians Make the Best Innovators

Innovation is critical to the future of work. But the ways in which we talk about, critique and approach it are way too narrow, believes Jeffrey Schnapp. To do innovation right and well requires a much more expanded understanding of how processes of discovery and invention actually happen.

Schnapp’s views intersect the ongoing public debate about how innovators are trained and how cultures of innovation are created. Schnapp explores the nature and history of innovation and creativity, and offers real insight into how we create the context in which innovation is enabled, facilitated and flourishes. Innovation isn’t just about forging the new; more importantly, it centers on an ability to put pieces together in imaginative ways from off the shelf and out of the dustbin of history.

Drawing from intriguing cases-in-point (e.g. Doug Engelbart, inventor of the mouse), Schnapp discusses:

1. Why we must be careful to use quantitative metrics for measuring people’s contributions to innovation
2. Why culture is just as important as the people operating within the culture. Creating a productive culture of innovation takes time and requires qualitative metrics
3. How we can better understand the genesis of profound innovation. Often the most creative, transformative innovations are not never-before-seen ideas; they come from prior dead-ends and are pieces put together in at the right time, in the right place in the right ways
4. Why imagination – alongside critical judgment – makes for innovation that matters

The Future of Higher Education: Reinvigorate through Redesign

The contemporary university needs to be reinvigorated, not redesigned simply to promote social justice or “adapt” to the digital age, says Jeffrey Schnapp. Reinvigoration means something different: to create flexible structures of governance and new disciplinary taxonomies that free up researcher-teachers to think, explore, experiment and take risks. He explains how to establish this ethos of in-depth inquiry and serious intellectual play.

Such transformative changes will require collective investment in education, teaching and research as public goods – a renewed collective investment that will be repaid by the sort of porous, centrifugal model of university life already emerging around the edges, expressed by everything from MOOCs to a renewed interest in civic or public humanities, to efforts to re-conjoin thinking and making (design education, training through problem solving initiatives, and the like). Schnapp broadly addresses strategies for how to invigorate the contemporary university and render it responsive to contemporary challenges and opportunities.

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Recommendations

“Schnapp is not just a thought leader in the domains of technology and education, but also a visionary practitioner with a deep knowledge of processes of innovation that spans the corporate and university worlds, as well as the for-profit and non-profit sectors.”

-Pilar Moreno Collado, Founder-Director of Liceus

“Jeffrey is a polymath whose leadership experience and panoramic understanding of technology, history, and digital culture, position him at a strategic crossroads, theoretical and practical, when it comes to grappling with the complexities of disruption and innovation.”

-Michele Colaninno (CEO), IMMSI, Piaggio Group, Milan, Italy

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