Barack Obama

Remember When We Used To Have A Respectable President?

Trump hasn’t even been president for a year and it already feels like he has been there for 10 years.  Whether he is attacking Gold Star widows or speaking with the “president” of the Virgin Islands, I have had enough of this man’s ignorance, pettiness, and incompetence.

This time last year, we had a respectable, decent, and smart man named Barack Obama as our president.  When you listen to Obama and then Trump, you quickly realize which one is the grown up in the room.  Even war criminal George W. Bush looks like a more sympathetic person than Trump at this point.

From where to where have we gone?

Design for Obama Revisited

Barack_Obama_Hope_posterWe are less than a year away from electing a new American president, and campaigning is officially underway.  There are so many candidates that I can’t keep up with who is who and how their positions will affect this country in the future.  Most people are introduced to political campaigns by brand communications, namely through posters and logos.

Because there are so many candidates, especially on the Republican side, it is hard to really distinguish their differences on major policy issues and what image they are trying to project.  From a design perspective, none of the visual communications of any of the candidates really stand out, with the exception for one by a Bush.

Jeb Bush has rebranded himself as Jeb! – as if no one will figure out that he is a member of the war criminal Bush family.  I am supporting Hillary, but even her logo leaves much to be desired. Donald Trump, well, of course his brand is his mouth and his hair…

It was around this time eight years ago, when a more inspired collection of political branding came to light with the burgeoning campaign of Barack Obama.  After the disastrous Bush administration, starting from 9/11 to the so-called “War on Terror” to Hurricane Katrina, Americans were in serious need of change, and they saw that change in the junior senator from Illinois.

Graphic designers felt inspired by Obama’s brand of Hope, Change, and Yes We Can.  Taking advantage of this new idea of campaigning on the Internet, suddenly there was a variety of print and web designs being distributed everywhere.  The most famous Obama poster is the above image designed by Shepard Fairey, but there were many other designers from the period who didn’t get the same recognition.  

A collaborative was formed – Design for Obama – in late 2007 by Rhode Island School of Design students Aaron Perry-Zucker and Adam Meyer.  Design for Obama was built to be an online forum where other designers could post their work and download other designers’ work.  Taschen published a beautiful coffee table book about Design for Obama with the help of Spike Lee a few years ago.  

Obama was largely elected thanks to online supporters.  Below is a discussion with Sol Sender and Scott Thomas, creators of the official Obama for America logo and website on how political branding has evolved.

Two Examples of Old Media and New Media

3D rendering of President ObamaThis summer I am teaching classes in web design, programming and entrepreneurship to a group of teenagers as part of a STEM empowerment program.  Last Thursday in my weekly class I showed them the videos below, which showcases examples of how technology is all about your creativity.

The saying goes what is old is new again, and that is certainly the case with Tufts University computer engineer Chris Gregg, who decided he wanted to transform his vintage 1960s Smith Corona electric typewriter into a printer that could be controlled by his computer.

The Smithsonian Museum created a 3D printed portrait of President Obama a few months ago. It is the first bust of a head of state created using 3D rendering. Pretty cool stuff!


A Few Thoughts on President Obama’s Community College Plan

President Obama Community Colleges
Last week President Obama announced that he wanted to make the nation’s community college system free of charge to students.  Under his not-so-detailed-yet plan, $60 billion will be spent over the next 10 years to make this possible.  I already have a bachelor’s degree, but I went back to school at my local community college recently to get certification in web development and programming.

Going back to school after being out for so many years can be daunting, but I had a great experience.  There are many things to like about community colleges; they are inexpensive, you don’t feel like the oldest person in the classroom and there is a lot of academic support.  Many of the teachers at community colleges do everything to help you succeed.

While I think the president’s plan so far is ambitious and promising, I also have a lot of questions that I hope he will address during his State of the Union next week.

Class issues? – Nine million students will save money from this proposed plan; however, middle class students will most likely benefit, since low income students already have their tuition covered by the Pell Grant.  Maybe the money should be given to low income students who matriculate to a 4-year public college or university if tuition exceeds the Pell Grant and maintain a certain GPA.  Speaking of which…

Higher GPA, More $$$? – Obama’s plan proposes that community college students can retain free tuition if they have a 2.5 GPA, or a ‘B’ average.  I think money should be given on a progressive scale.  If you have a 4.0 GPA, you get full free tuition.  A 2.5 GPA would be half or three quarters payment for tuition.  I think incentives systems force students to achieve more by thinking about the value of their education.

First time, and second time around? – Most scholarships and grants, including the Pell Grant, are geared towards first time college students fresh out of high school.  There are a growing number of people who may already have bachelor’s or master’s degrees, but due to the changing economy or layoffs, have to go back to school and retrain in a new field.  There should be money for those who have been affected by the recession to help them get back on their feet.

Support high demand careers – It seems like Obama’s proposal supports students majoring in all subjects.  However, the country is lacking in graduating students who are pursuing in-demand careers in STEM and this is becoming more obvious everyday in the global economy.  Priority should be given to students majoring in fields that are actually in-demand and hiring right now.