PSFK Conference New York Speaker Grant McCracken

PSFK Conference New York Speaker Grant McCracken
Christine Huang
  • 12 march 2008

We’re pleased to have one of our favorite cultural critics, Grant McCracken, speaking at PSFK Conference New York. McCracken is an academic by trade, but is kind enough to share his insights on contemporary culture, media, and technology on his blog CultureBy.

First, who are you and what do you do?

I am an anthropologist who studies contemporary culture. I was trained at the University of Chicago. I worked for awhile in the museum world, as the director of the Institute of Contemporary Culture. I have taught at the Harvard Business School and I am now a Research Affiliate at MIT. I have written a couple of books including Culture and Consumption I, Culture and Consumption II, The Long Interview and Flock and Flow, and the forthcoming Transformations: Identity construction in contemporary culture. I consult a lot, most recently for IBM. I write a blog called This Blog Sits at the Intersection of Anthropology and Economics. The question for me is simple: are we a culture in any sense of the word, and if so what’s a good way to think about, study and describe this culture? I guess all of us are rebuilding theory, method and data sets as we go, as things change.

You’ll be hosting a talk on “Pattern Recognition” – can you give us a little bit of background for understanding the importance of finding a framework for gathering and reacting to trends in business and how these points of inspiration affect culture?

This talk is better titled “pattern cognition.” It’s about the very liquid, multiple, messy ways we create new strategies, innovations and and solutions. Liquid, multiple, messy also happen to be the structural properties of our social, cultural world and personal worlds. So this really is the challenge. How do we innovate in ways that honor and take advantage of the complexity of the world in which our innovations must flourish.

Five websites that provide you with inspiration:

There are hundreds of these. please see “very good blogs” on my website at

Thanks, Grant!

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