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John Maeda: How art, technology and design inform creative leaders John Maeda, President of the Rhode Island School of Design, delivers a funny and charming talk that spans a lifetime of work in art, design and technology, concluding with a picture of creative leadership in the future. Watch for demos of Maeda’s earliest work — and even a computer made of people. John Maeda is the president of the Rhode Island School of Design, where he is dedicated to linking design and technology. Through the software tools, web pages and books he creates, he spreads his philosophy of elegant simplicity. Why you should listen to him: When John Maeda became president of the legendary Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) in 2008, he told the Wall Street Journal, “Everyone asks me, ‘Are you bringing technology to RISD?’ I tell them, no, I’m bringing RISD to technology.” In his fascinating career as a programmer and an artist, he’s always been committed to blurring the lines between the two disciplines. As a student at MIT, studying computer programming, the legendary Muriel Cooper persuaded him to follow his parallel passion for fine art and design. And when computer-aided design began to explode in the mid-1990s, Maeda was in a perfect position at the MIT Media Lab to influence and shape the form, helping typographers and page designers explore the freedom of the web. At RISD, Maeda is leading the “STEAM” movement–adding an “A” for Art to the education acronym STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math)–and experiencing firsthand the transformation brought by social media. “Maeda’s vision finds its purest expression in his open-source infrastructure for creativity on the Web–a kind of Linux for art tools–in which the browser becomes a global hub for editing, annotating, and sharing digital media.” Fast Company