The next chapter: Emily Carr University

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Two months ago, Rob and I decided to refocus Social Signal on social media capacity building. We recognized that we have the most impact -- and the most fun -- delivering the workshops, training and content that helps organizations find and realize their social opportunities. And we decided that one way to help build social media capacity was to open source our consulting practice, even though we didn't know what that would mean for our business.

The day after we made our decision, our colleague Rochelle Grayson told me that Emily Carr University was looking for a researcher to head up their new technology research centre. It was an opportunity I wouldn't have considered even forty-eight hours before. But when I told the wise and wonderful Morgan Brayton about our decision to restructure Social Signal, she'd given me this piece of advice: Don't focus on what you think your work should look like -- focus on the experience you want to have.

With that principle in mind, I asked Rochelle to introduce me to the Emily Carr team. And what a team! ECUAD President Ron Burnett wowed me with his philosophy of organizational leadership, his discussion of digital media research, and his awesome Mac geekery. VP Rob Inkster inspired me with his approach to building bridges between tech companies and digital creatives. Maria Lantin, the head of Intersections Digital Studio, is a soulful artist who can also code. And Glen Lowry and Jim Budd, who are part of the digital research program, blew my mind with their innovative thinking about e-learning and interaction design.

I'm thrilled and honoured that Ron and his colleagues have invited me to join Emily Carr as the Director of the Centre for Moving Interaction. For the next two years, I'll work with the students and faculty of Emily Carr to develop research programs that engage BC tech companies in exploring new opportunities for -- and applications of -- digital creativity. And as part of that work, I'll do research that digs deeper into the strategic and social implications of social media.

It's an extraordinary chance to build capacity around social and interactive media -- not in the form that I anticipated two months' ago, but in a way that I hope will advance the work of ECUAD, the opportunities for BC companies, and my own thinking about social media. And because Emily Carr faculty typically maintain an outside practice or studio, I'll be able to continue my work with Social Signal, too - in particular with Concept Jams, but also as a resource for Rob and our clients in Social Signal's other work.

And I'm not going anywhere, at least not digitally - you'll still find me blogging here (as well as at and Harvard Business). I'm getting a change in venue, role and title, but in many ways I'll be doing the same work we've done for the last four years through Social Signal: exploring the immense potential that digital media has to transform the way we create, collaborate and communicate, and helping people to find their path to putting these technologies to their most effective and positive use.


Marco says

December 7, 2009 - 1:09pm

Congrats!  Looking forward to your new and continued insights into social media.

heather gardner-madras says

December 7, 2009 - 1:53pm

How wonderful for everyone - the university, Social Signal and you! Congratulations and I can't wait to see what's next.

Colleen says

December 7, 2009 - 2:36pm

Congratulations! what a fantastic opportunity!!!

Theodora says

December 7, 2009 - 2:44pm

I love it! Sometimes, we need to let go of old patterns to welcome in a whole new design! I hope you're having a ton of fun!

Darren Barefoot says

December 7, 2009 - 3:12pm

Congrats! Sounds like a really fun project.

James says

December 7, 2009 - 5:07pm

Congratulations. Though we never ended up working together on the VanAqua engagement, I thought it would have been fun.  Presently doing some of my own education and social media research of sorts.

It would be interesting to see where this goes and what kind of things they are up to.

Maria Lantin says

December 7, 2009 - 9:25pm

Lucky us!  I'm really really happy you're in the fab team.

Glen Lowry says

December 8, 2009 - 9:16am

I'm with Maria. Lucky us.

Welcome aboard alex. I am really looking forward to seeing where things take us in the next few month / years.

Vancouver Sun’s Gillian Shaw covers Alex&#8217 says

December 10, 2009 - 2:45pm

[...] couldn’t be more excited about Alex’s new position (you can read about how excited she is here!) – and not just because it gives me an excuse to stroll around Emily Carr’s [...]

Jon Husband says

December 11, 2009 - 7:39pm

Congratulations.  It sounds like a very interesting and challenging role.

Jodie Tonita says

December 15, 2009 - 12:27am

you inspire me. i love this - Don't focus on what you think your work should look like -- focus on the experience you want to have. i love you. big congrats.

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