7 Aug 2012

All posts from 7 Aug 2012


The table of truth – dining to learn and engage

Table of Truth by Scott Macklin

Table of Truth by Scott Macklin

This coming Fall, 2012 the MCDM is offering a rather unique independent study for its students – The Table of Truth: Re-imagining the Dinner Table as a Digital Media Storytelling Tool.  This idea melds the classroom, debate, dining and digital tools over a dinner table which, as far as we can tell, is the first that digitally records, captures, inspires, and transmits stories. The Table of Truth independent study stems from the collaborative work of Michael Hebb, newly minted MCDM Teaching Fellow and founder of One Pot and MCDM Associate Director, Scott Macklin.


What follows is Michael’s account of the evolution and formulation of this intriguing new learning opportunity –  The Table of Truth: Re-imagining the Dinner Table as a Digital Media Storytelling Tool.

It began in September 2011, constructed as a series of questions with very few answers; but anchored by this lovely-solid-sounding invitation to be an MCDM Teaching Fellow. My practice of designing and conducting community discussion and forums is intentionally murky. It is not an architecture that contains ivory or Cartesian towers. At the center is a strange provocation; if we change our most basic rituals, can we change the world? I actively consider this question with philanthropic organizations and thought leaders. The notion of continuing this hunting-and-gathering within the confines of the University of Washington was immediately seductive and a little terrifying.

I have spent 18 years manipulating how people eat together, considering the basic rituals of sharing food, and turning them upside down and inside out with the hope that the harder I twist the table, the more information I will glean from it. Humans convening around bread-drink-ideas is an unwritten history; symposiums, seders, enlightenment salons, Gertrude Stein’s living room, the factory and the endless other examples of both casual and deeply intentional conviviality have formed much of our culture. But these gatherings get little of the credit they deserve. Scott Macklin and I decided to spend the year looking down the barrel of this history, whilst creating our own engagements, and asking at least one central question: If we combined the strategies of powerful social ritual with digital media, can we engage a multitude?

Photography by Scott Macklin

Photography by Scott Macklin

Our inquiry started with two food-and-wine-fueled syllabus-enriched Gatherings and it quickly moved onto several heady Salons within the confines of the Sorrento Hotel (of note; Alice B Toklas lived next door before she joined Stein in Paris). We gathered steam with a Symposium of City Leaders, and ultimately found a new Digital Media Tool with the creation of the Table of Truth. (more examples below)

As we round the corner of the first year of this Fellowship, it is clear that we are knee deep in rich terrain. In October we start our next chapter and fire up a new version of the Table of Truth. Class sessions will take place in architectural firm Olson Kundig’s famed storefront location where we will be designing a provocative social media engagement strategy and platform for eating together, thinking together, and sharing story.

Michael and Scott have certainly set themselves an ambitious, if not fascinating task. Can the simple act of dining together really be a force for a more a powerful exchange of ideas that can then be amplified via digital media? We look forward to the work, ideas and debate that flows from this merging of dining, learning and digital media.

THE TABLE OF TRUTH 1.0 Hacking Edu: Advisory Round Table


5 Minute Lesson with 5 Social Entrepreneurs

5 Minute Lesson with dream hampton and Kimya Dawson

5 Minute Lesson with Paul Miller aka DJ Spooky on Ice


5 Minute Lesson City 2.0




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The table of truth – dining to learn and engage