Kellogg Booth’s career has been dominated by an unwavering belief that Canada—and its researchers, artists and companies—could make a serious and positive impact on the evolution of digital media.
On paper, Kellogg Booth would appear to be a computer scientist. Strictly speaking, having done his MA (1970) and doctorate (1975) in that field, that is a true statement. However, an examination of how he has conducted his career makes it clear that that characterization is far too limited. His colleagues and students were as likely to be artists, designers, social scientists or entrepreneurs as software or hardware engineers. Interdisciplinary research has been fundamental to his work, reflecting his deep conviction that digital technologies were best viewed in terms of their human, social and cultural context. Yes, technological innovation has been a key part of his work, but the vision was always on technological innovation’s place in the larger mosaic of human society.
This is evident right from the start of his career in Canada when, between 1977-1990, along with John Beatty, and later Richard Bartels and other colleagues, he helped make the University of Waterloo one of the top centers of excellence in computer graphics in the country – which Rick Beach, his first Ph.D. student, co-supervised with Beatty, described as "a welcome oasis for Canadian computer graphics research." On moving to the University of British Columbia (UBC), he became the founding Director of the Media and Graphics Interdisciplinary Centre (MAGIC), which bridged across the many different faculties within the university, as well as to outside organizations – especially in the arts.
In 2004, Booth helped to organize a cross-disciplinary network of seven Canadian universities to develop design-oriented analyses of what people do and need in various organizational settings, and then to create technologies, products, and provide studies to disseminate the results of their experiments: the Network for Effective Collaboration Technology through Advanced Research (NECTAR). During the five years of this network, Booth served as associate director and led the UBC-based activities.
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