FIU’s Ratcliffe Art + Design Incubator recently launched Tech Conversations—a podcast featuring experts, community leaders, entrepreneurs and artists examining how technology and design merge together to shape the world around us.
“Tech Conversations invites listeners to tune in to innovative and impactful tech conversations with topics ranging from NASA’s rover landing to the future of art, crypto art, NFT, virtual reality and emerging cities and counties as new tech hubs during these unprecedented times,” alumna and podcast producer Margarita “Maggie” Salas-Amaro said.
Hosted by incubator director Jacek Kolasinski, Tech Conversations kicked off in February 2021 with the historical NASA rover landing on Mars. The episode focused on the design and technology that will enable the rover to move around and collect data for future human missions.
In the following episodes, the podcasters discussed the functions of crypto art and NFTs as it relates to the art scene and the future of digital art with local-renowned artist David Anasagasti (Ahol Sniffs Glue) and internet creative Sam Pepper weighing in.
“The team has done an excellent job of not only initiating and developing the [podcast] but also having the expertise and drive to prototype and then introduce these informative and thought-provoking episodes successfully into the market – exactly what the Ratcliffe Art + Design Incubator has done so successfully for the past three years for our innovative students,” said Brian Schriner, dean of College of Communication, Architecture + The Arts (CARTA), which houses the Ratcliffe Art + Design Incubator. The incubator is an initiative aimed to promote and foster social entrepreneurship and innovation among upcoming FIU artists and designers.
During women's history month, Tech Conversations featured Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava, the county's first female mayor; she discussed digital engagement strategies during her campaign.
The podcast also featured City of Miami Mayor Francis Suarez; he discussed his thoughts on a pandemic-induced remote world and the opportunities that emerged from it. He also discussed the consequences of the digital divide surrounding our community and his effort to reduce it with the “Miami Connected” initiative, which would bring free broadband connection and digital tools to more than 100,000 students.
“Everything that we do and touch – even this podcast – is being done through a virtual platform and that is only going to consume more of our lives, so every city in the world should be doing what we are doing, which is fighting tooth and nail to grow and expand our tech ecosystem,” Mayor Suarez said.
Having been launched in the midst of the pandemic, the RA+DI Tech Conversations team felt it was important to highlight FIU’s mission to continue inspiring students throughout remote learning. To do so, Kolasinski spoke with Karla Kennedy, program director of online learning for CARTA; she addressed some of the challenges surrounding distance learning – like engagement – and the future of these educational platforms.
“Students and even educators catch inspiration in the classroom, so it has been a challenge transitioning to this new platform,” Kennedy said.
Most recently, Kolasinski sat down with Rodolfo Peraza, a Cuban-born multimedia artist who took listeners on a unique journey starting with his work in Havana to his creation of the MUD Foundation, which helped to advance the intersections between art and digital technologies through art and educational programs.
“We launched Tech Conversations to further the tech evolution talk around us, in our communities and the world,” Kolasinski and Salas-Amaro said. “The topic is not limited to just the common technology audiences are used to. Our talks take it a step further, examining new digital landscapes in art, virtual reality and government policy on algorithms and artificial intelligence.”
Other featured guests include Joanna Popper, head of global VR at HP; Paola Elorza, meteorologist for South Florida’s NBC Telemundo 51; and transmedia artist Stephanie Dinkins.
Catch up on every episode of Tech Conversations on Spotify.