Video - Andrew Shea at TEDx Transmedia 2012 - ‘Designing for Social Change’


Andrew Shea is a graphic designer, writer, and educator living in New York City. As a designer, he uses design thinking on a range of projects that involve creating logos and branding systems, web sites, environmental graphics, books and printed matter. Shea’s book, Designing for Social Change, was published by Princeton Architectural Press and features 10 strategies that can improve the effectiveness of community-based projects. He teaches design at Parsons The New School for Design, and frequently visits design programs as a lecturer and critic.

At TEDx Transmedia 2012, Andrew talked about how graphic design can create meaningful behavior change.

Andrew’s website

If we were to make a formula, you can start behavior change by:

- Identifying a bad or unwanted habit
- Asking if the environment contributes to an unwanted or bad habit or behavior.
- And, if so, how can that environment be manipulated in some way to disrupt that behaviour?

I encourage you to look around your own environments and ask how you can work more effectively to bring about change. The needs you address will usually affect a larger community, in which case please improve the way you engage communities. It’s also important to think about what motivates a community’s current behaviour. Environments play important roles in behavior change, and how we act. Let’s all commit to act more deliberately and less like sheep!

Andrew Shea, TEDx Transmedia 2012, Rome.

Fun and quirky facts about our TEDx Transmedia 2012 speakers

A collation of fun and quirky facts about our TEDx Transmedia 2012 speakers so you can get to know them a bit better. Enjoy! 


SPEAKER FACT 1: Producer of ideas, Saku Tuominen, won a silver medal in the Old Timers (35+) World Championships in Ice Hockey. But not only is he an elite sportsman, he also has some enviable culinary skills and produces his own Olive Oil.


SPEAKER FACT 2: Peter Espersen, Online Community Lead for LEGO, is a huge heavy metal music fan, which might just account for the long metalhead hair style? He was once at a Rollins Band punk concert when the lead singer dived into the crowd and began biting the leg of the guy he was stood next to. Peter only noticed when the man started screaming.


SPEAKER FACT 3: Josh Shore, filmmaker, transmedia producer and founder of the Guerrilla News Network, practises meditation whilst scuba diving (!) and is a big fan of Minimal Techno… 


SPEAKER FACT 4: Games writer Rhianna Pratchett has just launched Narrativia - a new film, TV and digital production company. The company is a partnership with her fantasy author father, Terry Pratchett, and collaborators Rob Wilkins and Rod Brown. First projects are the adaption of Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman and an adaption of The Watch, also by Terry Pratchett.


SPEAKER FACT 5: Author Alison Norrington left business cards for her character inside shoes in shoe shops to help attract an audience for her chick lit transmedia story Staying Single.


SPEAKER FACT 6: Robert Tercek, one of the world’s most prolific creators of interactive content, has had some really exciting work in his life. We are very enamoured by the fact he got to work on the visual design for the Rolling Stones Steel Wheels tour early on in his career. Wonder if he’ll have any inside gossip on the rock and roll worlds of Mick, Keith, Ronnie and Charlie?


SPEAKER FACT 7: Ana Serrano, founding Director of the Canadian Film Centre Media Lab, has an unusual hobby: she sings in operatic style and often to her son Néo. 


SPEAKER FACT 8: Philosopher for children, Øyvind Olsholt, is a pianist and currently learning Swan Lake to play for his young daughter while she practises her ballet dancing.


SPEAKER FACT 9: Maurice Wheeler, of the Little Big Partnership, gives a funny talk on goal setting and measurement inspired by the fact he lost nearly half his body weight in just over a year, going from a massive XXXL (20st 10lb) to a slight and lithe M (around 11st)! You can check out his talk ‘Using Measurement To Motivate’ here:


SPEAKER FACT 10: Derrick de Kerckhove, world-leading thinker on technology and mass media, has a fascination with the alphabet and once co-edited a book which scientifically assesses the impact of the Western alphabet on the physiology and psychology of human cognition. 


SPEAKER FACT 11: Poonacha Machaiah, CEO at the Qyuki social network for creativity, rides his motorcycles as a means to clear his mind. He regularly braves Bangalore’s crazy traffic, on his classic 1950s-style 500cc Royal Enfield or Yamaha R1, en route to work. He’s explored most of south India on a bike and plans to take a long journey into the Himalayas next year. 


SPEAKER FACT 12: Social Designer Andrew Shea has a wandering spirit and has been on many travelling adventures around the world. Some of his most memorable include: hitchhiking from Mexico to Memphis, and hanging out with a Bushman, in the highlands of Papua New Guinea, who was wearing the same Michael Jordan T-shirt Andrew owned as a kid.


SPEAKER FACT 13: Rosalía Lloret, Chief Digital Officer at PRISA News, worked closely with the Huffington Post to bring the American brand to Spain.

Fun facts sourced and compiled by Hannah Wood. 

"Transmedia projects activate the senses and the imagination in unexpected ways." Quickfire Q&A with Social Designer and TEDx Transmedia 2012 Speaker Andrew Shea

Today’s Quickfire Q&A is with New York-based Social Designer, Andrew Shea. He talks everything from wanting to be Michael Jordan to writing his recent book, Designing For Social Change.

To see Andrew live register here for TEDx Transmedia 2012

Hi Andrew, Please can you tell us what led you into social design and what your relationship is with Transmedia? 

I’ve always worked on projects that aligned with my interests and curiosity but it wasn’t until graduate school at Maryland Institute College of Art that I learned more about how design can address social problems in meaningful ways.

I don’t have a particular relationship with Transmedia, though I’ve worked across various media.

What’s the most important part of Transmedia for you? In your experience, what makes a great Transmedia project? 

Transmedia projects activate the senses and the imagination in unexpected ways.

One project where I tried to do this was called “Listening Watching.” It was a radio show at MIT that a friend and I started in 2007. We prepared for each two-hour show by choosing words (usually nouns) that conjured up a visual, like “train,” “newscaster,” cruise ship,” or “buzz.” Then I would search YouTube for videos using that word. The radio show consisted of mixing the audio from the videos that we found with sounds effects and music in order to create a listening experience that was visual and imaginative.

What do you see as the future of Transmedia storytelling? What possibilities are there in a networked world? 

I’m not sure there are any limitations to storytelling. Everything we do seems to become possible from remote locations and I expect that this will increase in the ways stories are told. 

You’re a writer, designer and educator. What’s been the most fun job you’ve had and why? And what’s been the most rewarding and why? 

This is a great question. I can’t say that I like one of these jobs more than another because each seems essential to me for different reasons. I like both writing and designing because they require creative problem solving skills and lots of tinkering. 

Teaching graphic design has been my most rewarding job. I like working with students and watching them develop their skills and mature as professionals during the course of the semester. While not all students improve dramatically during a semester, I try to think of my work with each student as a collaboration, which motivates me to motivate them.

You’ve just written Designing for Social Change. Tell us a bit about the book and what you tried to accomplish with it?

Designing for Social Change is a compact, hands-on primer for graphic designers who want to use their unique problem-solving skills to help others. I wrote the book to learn more about how to become more effective and efficient when working with communities and organizations. The book features ten proven strategies for working effectively with community organizations. These strategies can frame the design challenge and create a checklist to keep a project on track. Twenty case studies illustrate how design professionals and students approach unique challenges when working on a social agenda. The book is an essential guide that provides design educators with a valuable teaching resource and professionals with a set of tools to use in their practice. I even included a chapter on how funding solutions can aid designers as they take on their own projects.

The theme of this year’s TEDx Transmedia, WEKids, is about harnessing child-like wonder and courage to make media that has a social impact. What do you see as the potential of that approach? 

The approach can positively influence both individuals and societies. We do a lot of things out of habit, not because they’re the most effective way of doing them. By asking simple, kid-like questions, we can rethink the way we do things and start to redesign broken systems.

What did you want to be as a kid? What were your dreams and aspirations? 

I wanted to be Michael Jordan when I was a kid. I’m a dreamer!

What’s your inner child like?

A friend once told me that many of my books have questions in the title. I think that’s my inner child: I’m curious and I’m driven to learn and do more.

The TEDx Transmedia 2012 subheading is Dreamers, Geeks, Mindshifters; which do you most identify with and why?

Dreamers. I’m an eternal optimist. Even when things seem to be collapsing around me.

What attracts you to speaking at TEDxTransmedia in Rome? What are you most looking forward to?

Transmedia is a compelling theme to organize a day of talks around. I’m looking forward to meeting new people and planning future collaborations.

TEDTalks are renowned for their inspiration, energy and focus on the personal. Can you give us a taster of what you want to bring to Rome?

I’m fascinated by human nature: how and why we act the way we do. My talk will touch on design’s role in creating meaningful behavior change.

What in your life are you most passionate about?

Telling meaningful stories through design.

And something a bit more personal (if you don’t mind?), what do you enjoy doing outside of work? 

Hiking, swimming, and biking are some of my favorite actives. Since moving to NYC, I now even like to like to run. I live not far from Central Park and going for a run in the park is like going to the woods. It’s quiet and meditative, even if I run into a crowd of tourists. I also keep busy weekend schedules. I also love to travel. In August, I visited friends in San Francisco, family in Washington DC, and went on camping and sailing weekend trips.

Interview by Hannah Wood

TEDx Transmedia 2012: A taste of what the speakers will say…

With a month to go before TEDx Transmedia 2012 opens in Rome we can reveal more detail about our exciting programme of speakers and the ideas and vision they are bringing to the event. 

The theme is WEkids: Dreamers, Geeks, Mindshifters and through it we seek to awaken the free spirit and courage of the inner child. We want to have fun and inspire you to create great media of the future!

The speakers are divided into Dreamer, Geek and Mindshifter session and each bring a unique energy to this special TEDx conference on September 28. 


Alison Norrington: Storyworlds Inventor

Alison, a novelist and transmedia strategist, will open the event and highlight the narrative power of non-linear stories through her personal experiences and those of her colleagues in the industry, from Hollywood to publishing. She’ll demonstrate how you build a robust Transmedia IP.

Poonacha Machaiah: Spiritual Technologist 

Poonacha, CEO of Qyuki, will focus on the need of the hour to have “purposeful technology” that can inspire generations to make positive changes in their communities.

Øyvind Olsholt: Kids’ Philosopher

Øyvind, a Norwegian children’s philosopher, will argue for philosophy as “evocative entertainment” and a focus on, not what “turns him on” in a physical or psychological sense but what challenges his intellect.

Rosalía Lloret: Multifaceted Journalist

Rosalía, the Chief Digital Officer for PRISA News, will explore how, when a new media is born and becomes successful, media gurus usually forecast either the deterioration of the human being and society because of the new media, or – if they like the new thing – the immediate death of any previous media industry. She’ll claim they’re wrong.


Maurice Wheeler: Youth Scholar

Maurice, with his 15 years of experience working with industry giants like Disney, Microsoft, Nintendo, Nichelodeon, Universal and Procter & Gamble, will analyze the different stages of child development, focusing in particular on the difficult generation tween (no longer a child and not yet a adolescent) and showing how difficult it is to communicate and create engaging content and success for this specific audience.

Ana Serrano: Experience Mastermind

Ana Serrano, Canadian director of the Media Lab at the Canadian Film Centre, will reveal how being a geek, a dreamer and charismatic futurist may contribute to the development of collaborative environments, useful for the creative transformation of our ecosystem.

Andrew Shea: Social Designer

Andrew, writer, designer and educator, will demonstrate how design and graphics can be used to disrupt our habits and make us more socially responsible.

Rhianna Pratchett: Narrative Paramedic

Rhianna, one of the queens of writing for games, will discuss how the word writer is quickly becoming an archaic term almost detrimental to the writers themselves, who should carve out a new role in the video game industry. 

Peter Espersen: Play Leader

Peter, Online Community Leader 13 + LEGO Group, will present case histories on how Lego failed to attract fans adults, as well as how it’s creating and managing communities online, using all the resources of social media. 


Saku Tuominen: Stargazing Idealist 

Saku, a Finnish TV producer who has won more than 30 awards, will seek to understand the meaning of life through dreams. Despite “hating” the term transmedia, he’ll explore how passion becomes a bold idea and then how to work hard to make a passion happen.

Josh Shore: Catalyst Filmmaker

Josh, a filmmaker, television producer and a catalyst of socially transformative communities, will ask a series of challenging questions about transmedia products and how to make them indispensable.

Derrick de Kerckhove: Digital Visionary

Derrick, who worked closely with Marshall McLuhan and is currently Professor of the Department of French at the University of Toronto and the Department of Sociology at the University Federico II of Naples, will show that technology not only intervenes in our social relations, but also in our nervous systems, creating new connections between body and machine that will result in new responsibilities.

Robert Tercek: Creative Activist

Robert, one of the world’s most prolific creators of interactive content, will argue that we are waking up from a “60-year trance” where we have outsourced our storytelling and become “wasted” by consumption. He’ll show how participatory media has given back the power to tell stories and answer some of the world’s urgent questions. 

Find out more about the speakers and register for the event at

Latest News: TEDxTransmedia 2012 Speakers with a Difference


TEDxTransmedia 2012 is not your average conference about media. Nor is its focus solely on non-linear storytelling and transmedia.

This is a conference with that TED magic that asks speakers to tell personal stories in creative talks that will inspire you to think about future media - and the road to it - in new and exciting ways. 

That’s why we bring you speakers from a range of different professions, walks of life and countries. Some have no obvious connection to transmedia, but all have ideas and visions worth spreading. 

If you’re wondering what TED and TEDx are then visit the About section of our official website for the lowdown. 

The awesome Dreamers, Geeks and Mindshifters we have selected for TEDxTransmedia 2012 are (you have to click Read More to find out….:)

Read More

TEDx Transmedia 2012 speaker Andrew Shea on the social value of disruptive design

TEDx Transmedia 2012 speaker Andrew Shea wrote a fascinating article earlier this year on the social value of disruptive design and how small environmental changes can create significant behaviour change.

In the article: 'Flies in Urinals: The Value of Design Disruptions,' Shea, a designer and writer based in New York, looks at how habits like smoking and drug-taking are complexly woven into the routines of people’s lives and how slight disruptions in how you use your environment can help break damaging patterns of behaviour. 

He then translates some of this psychological insight and research into ideas about ‘social design.’ Shea proposes ways that designers can intervene to help change and improve lives, using the examples of flies in urinals and Candy Chang's inspirational project, Before I Die, which encourages people to share their hopes and dreams in public space. 

The article was published in Change Observer just ahead of the publication of Shea’s book Designing for Social Change

Read the full article ‘Flies in Urinals: The Value of Design Disruptions’ here.

Register for TEDxTransmedia 2012, WEkids: Dreamers, Geeks, Mindshifters, to see Shea and our other brilliant speakers live.