Against Hope: A Primer on Complexity and Collapse


Saturday evening I participated in a PechaKucha-style evening of presentations sponsored by the Bowen Island Arts Council as part of the Canada-wide Culture Days events.

For those not familiar with PechaKucha, it requires you to make your presentation precisely 20 slides long, with each slide lasting precisely 20 seconds — so the entire presentation is exactly 6:40 in length. You can of course choose your own slides, but you are encouraged to use few or no words on your slides, so that the audience listens to what you are saying instead of reading your slides.

Since the idea of doing this as our contribution to Culture Days was initially my idea, I felt both obligated and inspired to be one of the presenters. I challenged myself to see if I could capture the essential ideas of complexity and why civilizations always collapse, into this short a presentation.

The audience (about 50 people) was appreciative, and all of the presentations were outstanding. I was struck by how the feedback you get from a live audience differs from that you get from writing the same things (though less economically) on a blog. Your physical presence seems to give your ideas more credibility — perhaps it’s because you’re willing to stand up there and look people right in the eye and say things, which is much harder, and more of a commitment, than just putting them up on the Internet. So I had the sense I got through to some people who would not have been as receptive to the same ideas presented in writing. The fact that humour was present in all the presentations, and that the wine was flowing throughout the evening, probably also helped.

It was a valuable exercise distilling and re-distilling an hour’s content down to just over 6 minutes — I have an even greater appreciation for good editors now.

The video of my 20 slides with my voice-over is now up on YouTube here. Those of you I’ve never met and who have never heard my voice may find it interesting. Next time we do such an event we’re planning to record it, so you’ll be able to see me as well.

 

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3 Responses to Against Hope: A Primer on Complexity and Collapse

  1. nozulani says:

    Rapid, and on point.

  2. nick says:

    Beautifully and elegantly expressed. Although the situation is hopeless, I feel strangely uplifted!

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