Don Norman debates John Maeda of Automattic, the company behind WordPress

In January, world-renown executive, designer and technologist, John Maeda, and a team of 25 people from Automattic joined Don Norman and the UC San Diego Design Lab for a spirited debate. Automattic is a web development corporation that powers about 25 percent of all websites – the largest of any of the content-management systems. Maeda serves as the‎ global head of computational design and inclusion at Automattic, which has 520 employees in over 50 countries and is currently valued at over $1 billion.
Reflecting on the debate, Don Norman said, “It’s always a delight to talk with John Maeda about the nature of design and how it should be moving. To John and me, design is more than making pretty things, design is a way of thinking and approaching significant problems in society.”
While Automattic is most known as the company behind the free blogging service WordPress.com, it is also the company behind WooCommerce, Jetpack, Simplenote, Longreads, VaultPress, Akisment, Gravatar, Polldaddy, Cloudup and many others. Automattic was founded a belief of making the web a better place and their goal is to democratize publishing so that anyone with a story can tell it, regardless of income, gender, politics, language, or where they live in the world.
 About John Maeda:

Maeda draws on his diverse background as an MIT-trained engineer, award-winning designer, and executive leader to help businesses and creatives push the boundaries of innovation in their markets and fields. As an artist, his early work redefined the use of electronic media as a tool for expression by combining computer programming with traditional artistic technique, laying the groundwork for the interactive motion graphics that are taken for granted on the web today.

Maeda holds MS and BS degrees in Electrical Engineering + Computer Science from MIT, an MBA from Arizona State University, and a PhD from University of Tsukuba in Japan. He was the recipient of the White House’s National Design Award, the Tribeca Film Festival’s Disruptive Innovation Award for STEM to STEAM, the Blouin Foundation’s Creative Leadership Award, the AIGA Medal, the Raymond Loewy Foundation Price, the Mainichi Design Prize, the Tokyo Type Director’s Club Prize, and induction into the Art Director’s Club Hall of Fame.

Maeda is an internationally recognized speaker and author; his books include “The Laws of Simplicity,” “Creative Code,” and “Redesigning Leadership.”  His talks for TED.com have received cumulative views of over 2 million to date. Maeda previously served as Design Partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB), a world-leading venture capital firm. He was also previously a Full Professor and Associate Director of Research at the MIT Media Lab in which he worked on advanced user interface and experience design.

Maeda is currently a board member for Sonos Inc (the leader in high fidelity wireless audio systems), Wieden + Kennedy (the world’s last independent global advertising agency), Google (advising the Advanced Technology & Projects group), and Cooper Hewitt (advancing the Smithsonian’s mission to place design at the center of the nation).

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