About Gigi

Socio-technologist, tech satirist, teacher, action researcher, creator in the world
Gigi Louisa Johnson, EdD, MBA

Gigi Louisa Johnson, EdD, MBA

Center for Creative Futures, Maremel Institute / Faculty, UCLA Alpert School of Music / President, Rethink Next

Dr. Johnson speaks, researches, and creates experiences on transformation and creative technologies.  Through Maremel, she creates programs, events, and classes on where creative work and systems are going — locally and globally —  in an AI- and digitally accelerated age.  Through Maremel, she has advised leaders in start-ups, nonprofits, and other organizations in media, music, and education.  Through the non-profit Rethink Next, she also is launching collaborations on the futures of creative work in local communities.  Dr. Johnson speaks around the world on digital transformations — both of the past and in the extended future.  

Teaching on cutting-edge issues has been part of her DNA.  UCLA has been part of her home for 20 years, where she has taught undergraduates, MBAs, and executives about digital disruption in creative industries.  She has taught Music Industry courses at UCLA Alpert for more than 10 years, and for four years produced and hosted the UCLA podcast “Innovating Music.” Gigi was the Founding Executive Director of the UCLA Center for Music Innovation for five years.  She previously had run centers and taught courses and executive programs on digital disruption and creative systems change at UCLA Anderson for 14 years.  She also has taught at universities and spoken at major conferences in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East in digital transformation and disruption.  

Creatively, she has produced and hosted three early web series on digital tech learning, produced and performed in eight years of kids’ concerts, produced four online courses in creative tech and marketing, produced two kids’ albums, and designed a large number of live thought-leadership events with various partners.  

Her corporate background includes ten years of financing media acquisitions at Bank of America, as well as work in educational media, public relations, and advertising.  She received her doctorate in educational leadership for change from Fielding Graduate University, her MBA from UCLA Anderson, and her bachelor’s degree from USC Cinematic Arts in TV production.

Our Adventures in Our Daily Lives

“Thank you for making me think.”

— a note from our breakfast server

I nudge people to see opportunities daily. Some of this nudging is in my interactions as a keynote speaker or teacher. Some is in conversations with a barista or on public transportation.

Most of my work and energy — speaking, researching, teaching, and connecting — repeatedly wraps back around to how we grow our daily lives despite the defaults and perceived limits in this tech-framed world.

I push against the easy button of smartphone- and search-led algorithmic discovery. We make so many daily decisions now withiut seeing those tethers to curated choice.

For example, that curation is deep into plans and stories about future autonomous car systems. At a CES 2019 side event on automotive artificial intelligence (!!), we could have had a drinking game around the word “Frictionless” as a goal. That stated goal in many company presentations for “frictionless” consumer decisionmaking creates a foggy mist around how instead we can take positive, intentional action.

With my work, I shine light into that mist of tech-connected phones and tools that impact how we work, live, create, share, and collaborate.  I mix those ideas with insights from 9 careers, including corporate banking, media distribution, music performance and marketing, higher education, and teaching technology.  I also have raised three young adults who are making their way in this digital world.  

My Work

I love to help people break out of the default space of their lives. I bring insights, advice, and humor to help groups and individuals thrive in digital water.

We are digital fish, swimming in a big tank that we cannot see well. . . or at all.  The world and the way we engage in it is dramatically shifting with embedded, perpetual connected technologies. How can we swim differently?  How does our digital water affect how we live, work, share, love, create, collaborate, and plan our lives together?

My Three Energy Focuses

I love to work across spaces, so am working on several ventures/adventures. I co-created Maremel in 2001 to have a great place to research, publish, create events, speak, teach, and produce projects with partners.  I designed and launched the Center for Music Innovation in 2014 within the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music as a conversation about the dramatic changes in what technology is doing to creation and connected communities that celebrate music and life. Most recently, I launched Rethink Next, a 501c3 corporation, to create new learning programs around helping you and your groups become better futurists and future builders.

Augmenting My Mind

How much in technology is augmenting me versus being a digital vampire? How much is one tool or another improving my life vs. taking time and control away? I'm now about 21 months into having short-term memory problems. I had some kind of a memory degradation when I...

From Music in LA to Digital and Music in Austin

We've just ended the second cycle of our Future of Music in LA projects at the Center for Music Innovation at UCLA Alpert.  We helped run a half-day symposium with the City of LA Dept. of Cultural Affairs and the UC Digital...

Playing with Facebook Stories Camera Effects

My Facebook friends must be thinking I'm nuts (again).  I've been tinkering with Facebook Stories and its Camera Effects.  In fact, I've been playing so much I'm also looking into the Camera Effects and AR (augmented reality) developer group. First, here's some of the...

Craft, Process, and Thinking of Becoming

Today I'm working on taxes for our two college students' FAFSAs and watching "Abstract: The Art of Design" on Netflix in the background.  Christoph Niemann is both in his story and telling his story about craft and life.  He is a character and an animated...

HUD: Stories on How We Work and Decide

Gigi enjoyed sharing thoughts over YouTube and the US Housing and Urban Development (HUD) OCIO Learning Series.  This session was recorded in January and ran as a webinar on March 17.  You can find it now...

Reflecting on My SXSW 2016 Journeys

I spoke at SXSW Music again this year on my current favorite topic: Music 20/20 and how we can proactively affect the future. SXSW, however, is not just about speaking. It is about diving deeply into diverse ideas with diverse people. It is one of my annual...

Listening Harder to Me from 2009 and 2011

Happy New Year! I am filtering and sorting the past 3 years of my life in big piles this am. My family is putting up with piles of folders and papers, along with a big cup of coffee, on a portable desk and around my sofa while I watch the 2nd playing of the Rose...

Visually Mapping Your Social Self

In older days, I would Google myself to see how I surfaced.  That's not just an ego thing -- I found many strange things attributed to me.  I research myself, or at least my professional reach. In current days, there are tools that help me "research myself" using...

Pixelating Reality from SXSW Interactive 2014

We enjoyed sharing insights at SXSW Interactive 2014 on this question -- How is smartphone use pixelating reality, blowing it up and turning it into shiftable bits of data so we are making different decisions with its Time and Place? We are in a massive change in...