Carousel of Progress: Adapting to a Post-Pandemic World

This full-length original keynote looks to the past to helps us chart a path through an uncertain, pandemic-tinged future. Design expert Cheryl Platz walks attendees through a look at transformative past pandemics to see how we can expect our future to be changed, and discusses design tools and frameworks that will help us cope. Partially inspired by material from Cheryl’s book Design Beyond Devices.


Human progress leaps forward thanks to inciting incidents. Political, cultural, environmental… and sometimes pandemics like the Spanish Flu or polio. We now find ourselves facing another inciting incident: the COVID-19 pandemic. Progress is inevitable. Customer expectations and needs have changed drastically in the last 18 months. But what kind of progress, and how can you adapt? Your customers will expect a more hands-free technology environment, and will expect more flexible technology that adapts to their schedules and needs. You’ll need to understand how to approach multi-modal design: from the spectrum of multi modality to transitions and interruptions. Multimodality expert Cheryl Platz will introduce you to the fundamentals you’ll need to ride the Carousel of Progress to its next transformative stop.

The hero image for Cheryl Platz’s Carousel of Progress keynote talk. Do not reuse without written permission.

The talk’s premise is that extrinsic events like the pandemic cause two fundamental models of innovation to occur: immediate assimilation of tools that have existed for years, and instantaneous innovation and adoption of new tools. We look to the past to learn about what we can expect in the present and future.

  • The history of pandemic innovation
  • The anatomy of the Carousel
  • What’s already happened during COVID-19?
  • What can we expect to happen?
  • What tools and frameworks can we apply

The keynote was first delivered to an audience at CHIFOO (Computer Human Interaction Forum of Oregon) to an enthusiastic response. (Recording is available to CHIFOO members.)

Want to book this keynote for your conference or event to help your attendees prepare for the future around the corner? Reach out to Cheryl today.