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Back on the cutting edge: Scott Farrand re-embraces Apple technology

On a typical day in the School of Journalism and Mass Communications, students can be found frantically walking the second floor asking out loud to each other or themselves, “Where is Scott Farrand?” 

For years, students have described the visual communications senior instructor as a teacher, mentor and confidant. But over the course of his career at the University of South Carolina, he’s also earned another label: elusive.

The main reason? Farrand has never owned a cellphone — he was part of the 2 percent of Americans who lack a mobile device. Many have asked how this is humanly possible?

Now, that’s changed.

Farrand has partnered with fellow instructor Gordon Humphries to develop an iPhotography class in which students will learn to create professional quality images on cell phones. The class was approved for summer and fall 2021, and he realized if he was going to talk the talk, he’d need to walk the walk. So, he invested in an iPhone 12 with an accompanying Apple Watch and a pair of AirPods. 

“If I was to get a mobile phone, I wanted to make up for lost time,” he said. “Go big and all in!”

He’s actually no stranger to Apple’s world-renowned products. In 1984, he began his career using innovative technology. He bought an Apple Lisa computer, then beta-tested and helped develop the first versions of MacDraw, Adobe Illustrator and FreeHand drawing programs for the Macintosh. 

But after spending some time on the cutting edge, he wanted to disappear.

“I didn’t want to be found,” he says. “I was a visual journalist who spent 20 years attached to a pager and a walkie-talkie. I was always on call seven days a week — I wanted some of my life back.” 

Taking his life back allowed him to channel his energies into teaching. Michaela Taylor, a 2019 alumna, was a student in Farrand’s Graphics for Visual Communications course. She says his holistic approach to design was an asset.

“The technology of design was definitely a central part of the course, but Farrand went beyond just teaching the software,” Taylor says. “He also pushed students to think critically — to question why we do things the way we do and how we can take something good and make it better.”

Some might consider him a Luddite, but Farrand prefers to think of himself as a nonconformist. His refusal to buy a phone was rooted in his goal to fight back against the commercialism that required each person to own one. 

Because of this, you won’t find him screaming “Hey, Siri” throughout the halls of the J-school just yet.

“I am not going to be ruled by the phone — it will only be powered on when I want it on,” he says. “I am not going to be using the mobile phone on a date and I’m not following your basic phone practices, I’m looking for innovative ways to use the device.”

Apple’s first version of the iPhone was manufactured in 2007, and while Farrand evaded the investment for more than 13 years, he’s learned that it can be a helpful tool.

“Each year leading study abroad classes across the planet was getting harder,” he says. “I needed maps, translators and easier facetime communication. It is tough getting lost in a foreign country when you do not know the language and do not have the lifeline. I can’t even get an Uber!”

Another reason for his sudden switch to join the majority was that his beloved Timex watch was on the brink of death. Farrand is one of over 80 members of a running group, Run for God, and will use his new Apple Watch to track their runs.

“I think the group is frustrated trying to contact me and send messages to cancel runs because of weather that I never get,” he says.

Can he do the Renegade or beat level 500 of Candy Crush? Not yet. But he’s looking forward to using his new phone as a tool for learning and teaching, being a little more accessible and maybe even having some fun.

Camille Doloughty

Camille Doloughty

Camille Doloughty is a 2019 graduate of the University of South Carolina, where she studied journalism and English literature. During her time at Carolina, Doloughty was a member of student journalism groups, including Carolina News and Reporter, where Scott Farrand became a mentor and friend. Following graduation, Doloughty worked in marketing and communications for two local businesses. In her free time she enjoys reading and catching up with friends over coffee.


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