Both men are titans of the TED conference style of presenting “ideas worth spreading” to the Web. John Maeda emerged at TED two winters ago talking about The Laws of Simplicity, while inside he was reeling toward his own future, head still spinning from Ken Robinson’s TED talk a year earlier on education as a standardized way of crushing invention. Maeda, a star at MIT’s Media Lab, still in his thirties, heard a call from the heavens to “change my life.” And so he did, moving from MIT and the engineering of technology to the presidency of the Rhode Island School of Design and the teaching of art and innovation. After a RISD year that he’s been blogging at every turn, Maeda’s invitation to Robinson to give the commencement address felt like a personal thank-you and maybe an appeal for confirmation. Early on RISD’s graduation day, we had a three-way gab at the Hope Club in Providence about expressiveness and originality, in art and life, across the board.
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Who’s going to design the car of the future? The one that’s affordable, that plugs in, charges up, goes from zero to sixty in under five seconds — and gets 100 miles per gallon? They’re working on it in Detroit, but who knows if the U.S. auto industry will die before the roll out.
So how about a plucky group of inner-city kids from West Philadelphia led by a visionary teacher?
They come from a world of crack houses and gang wars, but they’re winning awards for cutting-edge green auto design.
This hour, On Point: from Philly’s mean streets — inspiration, hope, and maybe, the cars of the future.