Director, University of Minnesota Design Institute
Janet Abrams is Director of the University of Minnesota Design Institute, a Minneapolis-based think tank that explores the social implications of emerging technologies through the lens of design. Over the past five years, the DI's research has focused on mapping as the link between people and places, data and organizations, and physical and virtual environments.
Her latest book, ELSE/WHERE: MAPPING - New Cartographies of Networks and Territories (DI, 2006), co-edited with Peter Hall and designed by Deborah Littlejohn, was chosen as one of the Best Books of 2006 by Slate.com. This anthology investigates the parallel development of new modes of navigation and new modes of visual representation, and how these transformations shape the way we see the world.
The Design Institute's previous mapping projects include the Big Urban Game (a pioneering example of the 'Big Game' genre held in Minneapolis/St Paul in 2003), and Knowledge Maps ranging from "Voting By Design" to the "Twin Cities Knowledge Maps," nine alternative cartographies addressing, among other dimensions, their spiritual, olfactory and acoustic landscapes.
A design critic and conference producer for over twenty years, Janet has written on design, visual arts and technology for publications including the New York Times, The Independent, Blueprint, I.D. Magazine, Domus, and Core77.com. Since leaving her native London for graduate school at Princeton University (Ph.D., architectural history), she has lived in Chicago, New York, and Amsterdam, where she edited IF/THEN: PLAY in 1998, while working at the Netherlands Design Institute. When she's not thinking about mapping, she's probably playing with clay.