If you study the root causes of business disasters, over and over you’ll find this predisposition toward endeavors that offer immediate gratification. If you look at personal lives through that lens, you’ll see the same stunning and sobering pattern: people allocating fewer and fewer resources to the things they would have once said mattered most.
College is such an amazing time of freedom. For many of you, this is the first time in your life when it’s completely up to you, and you alone, to decide what you study, what activities you engage in, and how you structure your day. One idea I came up with as an undergrad was to try to maintain balance by making sure I engaged in four different types of activities every single day. These were:
-something intellectual (not so difficult at school);
-something physical (like running, biking, a team sport);
-something creative (like music, art, or writing); and
-something social (like lunch with a friend).
It matters a great deal if people have to write out questions in advance, or during the talk, and a moderator then reads out the question. That mechanism improves question quality and cuts down on the first three motives cited. Yet it is rarely used. In part we wish to experience the contrast between the speaker and the erratic questioners and the resulting drama.
I like the second commenter’s suggestion: “Take multiple questions at once. The moderator will take say three questions from three audience members before giving the presenter a chance to answer them one-by-one.”
David Foster Wallace reads Laughing with Kafka, which was later published in Consider the Lobster. Other speakers at the Metamorphosis: A New Kafka symposium included Paul Auster, E.L. Doctorow, Susan Sontag, and David Remnick. (via bibliokept)
Here are 9 ways to use space in your presentation, basically ways to use your body on stage while you’re speaking. This reminds me of Scott McCloud’s presentation here in Atlanta a couple weeks ago, when he said something along the lines of, “Any way you can describe a story has a spatial/visual equivalent.”
Sculptor Richard Serra gave the 2008 commencement speech at Williams College. I like his comments about thinking, obsession, and play:
If itÄôs not broken, break it. One way of coming to terms with the prevailing language of a cultural orthodoxy is to reject it. It may be necessary to invent tools and methods about which you know nothing, to act in ways that allow you to utilize the content of your personal experience, to form an obsession and to cut through the weight of your education. Obsession is what it comes down to. It is difficult to think without obsession, and it is impossible to create something without a foundation that is rigorous, incontrovertible, and, in fact, to some degree repetitive. Repetition is the ritual of obsession. DonÄôt confuse the obsession of repetition with learning by rote. I am suggesting a form of inquiry, a procedure to jumpstart the indecision of beginning.
The solution to a given problem often occurs through repetition, a continual probing. The accumulation of solutions invariably alters the original problem demanding new solutions to a different set of problems. In effect, as solutions evolve, new problems emerge. To persevere and to begin over and over again is to continue the obsession with work. Work comes out of work.
But solutions need not only be the result of constant repetition. There is another route, not so structured but rather free-floating and more experimental but no less obsessive. It is to be found in the activity of play. I cannot overemphasize the importance of play. The freedom of play and its transitional character encourage the suspension of beliefs whereby a shift in direction is possible; play ought to be part of the working process. Free from skepticism and self-criticism play allows you to relinquish control. Playful activity provides an alternative way to see, to imagine, to do, to make, to think otherwise. In play there are no ends, there are only means, however, means inadvertently can lead to ends. Rules can be made up as you go along or even in hindsight.
[via michael surtees]