I’m in the Qantas inflight magazine this month – three recent technologies that have helped change our world.
The conference is being organised by the History Teachers Association of Victoria and the Victorian Association for the Teaching of English.
I’m giving the keynote speech on 16 March at 10am (TBC).
Here’s the synopsis …
Who’s taken my chalk?
That technology has changed the classroom is news to no one involved in the field of education. But what are the limits? Are we in danger of letting an infatuation with technology cloud our better judgement?
In this presentation Walkley-award winning journalist and broadcaster, Antony Funnell, explores the concept of “techno-determinism” – a technology led theory of social change. It’s an idea given new verve in the digital age, but what are the long-term implications for education?
I’m in the Qantas inflight magazine this month – three recent technologies that have helped change our world.
Okay, robots are going to be a bit of a theme for us in the first part of this year. Intern Carl Smith is busy researching a follow-up to our first programme on robotics which airs this Sunday (5th Jan). Also keen for your input – any interesting robotics projects you’ve come across send us a tweet (@RNFuturetense) or email.
Another outside contribution we’re excited about will come from Andrew Dodd (Dr Andrew Dodd – responsible for the Premiers series on RN). Andrew’s mission has been to investigate the theme – “What’s left to explore?” His programme is due to first air on 26 Feb.
Other shows taxiing to the runway include – “Information overload”, “Spam” and “Our algorithmic future” – all pretty well self-explanatory.
We will be back on air from Sunday the 29th January 2012.
Over December and January we will be playing our Summer Highlights series.
Programme one: “Gamification” – broadcast 22nd Dec
Programme two: “Biomimicry” – broadcast 29th Dec
Programme three: “3D Printing – broadcast 05th Jan
Programme four: “Sci-Fi Part One – broadcast 12 th Jan
Programme five: “Sci-Fi Part Two – broadcast 19th Jan
IMPORTANT PROGRAMME INFORMATION
Future Tense is changing broadcast times. In 2012, it will no longer be heard on Thursdays at 8.30 am.
Instead, from late January onward it will air at 11.30 am on Sundays with a repeat of the programme the following Friday morning at 5.30 am (immediately before RN Breakfast).
The first programme in our 2012 series will start on Sunday January 29th.
11.30 am Sundays
5.30 am Fridays
Now here’s an odd thing…
I ended up at Deakin University in Geelong the other day, sitting on a throne in front of an audience of several hundred. I was in the city to give the “occasional address” to graduating students. There is a photo of me somewhere, all gowned-up and flanked by the Chancellor and the Vice-Chancellor. When I receive a copy I’ll make sure I post it.
The occasional speech had to be no more than six minutes in duration – quite a challenge, I have to say.
Anyway, for those interested here’s what I had to say….
(Deakin University Graduation Ceremony – 19th Oct 2011)
Chancellor, Mr David Morgan.
Vice Chancellor, Professor Jane den Hollander.
Academic staff, distinguished guests, graduates, family and friends…
Some people think you should always open with a joke, but we at Radio National tend to be a bit of an earnest bunch, not given to the lighter side of life.
It’s a fact that’s been acknowledged by ABC management over the years and so every January they issue each presenter with a humour quota – to try and address that deficiency.
That’s the good news.
The bad news is that mine ran out last Thursday.
Although, if I get a wry smile out of a couple of you, I am happy to go into debit!
Working for Radio National I get to talk on a daily basis to all manner of interesting and creative people – from all over the world – scientists, Oxford dons, educational specialists, writers, activists, online innovators – a vast menagerie of expertise.
I could describe it as the “best job in the world”.
But while we journalists are given to sensationalism, our stock in trade, of course, is doom, gloom and pessimism; so to my journalistic ears the phrase “best job in the world” just seems like excessive enthusiasm.
Still I have to confess it’s not a bad thing to do between regular bouts of sleeping.
I’ve often been asked by students what makes for a good journalist? I’ve been asked that question so many times – and worked it over in my head for long enough, that I’m now confident I’ve narrowed the answer down to just one word.
But I’m not going to tell you what that word is until a little later.
Suffice it to say that when I was asked to give this address, it got me thinking: is there one thing about all the truly impressive people I’ve interviewed over the years that links them all together, despite their field of expertise?
Now, journalists are a pretty reductive lot – one of our roles is to simplify things – to bring them back to the basics.
And we often communicate with each other in a sort of shorthand – when we talk about the people we’ve interviewed we talk about “talent”. And talent falls into just two categories – to keep it simple – there’s good talent and there’s bad talent.
So, in journalistic speak, what is it then that makes someone “good talent”?
Because it seems to me that in aspiring to deliver just one modest morsel of value to a group of graduating students like yourselves – it behoves me to aim for the heights – to try and bestow on you the secret to professional success.
What is it? Well, I think I’ve worked that one out as well. And, as it turns out, it’s the very same quality that makes for a good journalist.
Another thing about my profession that you may or may not know is that we like to drop names.
And I’m no exception.
So, here are just a few of the people I’ve recently interviewed –
Frank Moss, the immediate former director of the Media Lab at MIT…
Dr Luisa Panichi from Hull University, who was part of a project called “Avalon” – which established a long-distance learning institute in Second Life.
Brent Sherwood – the manager of Strategic Planning and Project Formulation at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, who also works as a “space architect” and dreams of building cities on the moon.
And Paul Collier – the Oxford economist and Africa specialist, who was in Australia late last year courtesy of this very university.
Different personalities, different fields of interest – and all good talent.
“Good talent” not because of their personal knowledge base, because information is easy to access in today’s digital world.
“Good talent” not just because of the positions they hold, because the world is full of dull people who hold interesting jobs.
They’re “good talent” because of the approach they take to their work. Each of the people I’ve mentioned makes you feel enthusiastic, because of their enthusiasm.
What they talk about is exciting, because they’re excited about it.
So, that’s it then, an ability to be excited about your work – and to excite others – is the key to professional success…
Not quite – excitement, I think, is a flow on.
At the core … Well, at the core, is curiosity
Because curiosity leads to discovery.
It’s at the heart of collaboration – the sort of willingness to engage and share that underpins the Open Science movement, for example.
It’s at the heart of creativity – it’s what’s made the company Google such a dominant online media force. Google’s policy of institutionalised curiosity has helped drive its innovation, along with a willingness to take risks and not to fear failure.
And most importantly of all, curiosity leads to serendipity – the greater your desire to explore, the greater your chance of stumbling across a new way of doing things, or the solution to a problem that might in isolation seem unsolvable.
In any career, it’s difficult to predict where you’ll be in the future… where your studies will take you… what job, or jobs, you’ll eventually end up doing.
From a personal perspective I hope that in five, ten, twenty years time, whatever I’m doing I’m just as curious about the world as I am today.
And so in closing I’d say to you, that if you’re not curious by nature, start developing an interest in what’s around you – it can only be a benefit.
And if you are already inquisitive, make sure you don’t let it slip away.
It costs nothing, but it can bring significant rewards.
Thank you… congratulations… and goodluck.
EVENT TIME & DETAILS ABOUT LIVE WEBCAST
Free. No bookings required, however seating is limited. Refreshments available to purchase from 5.30pm at the Meme Lounge, Level 1 GoMA.
View live webcasts of GoMA Talks at www.21Cblog.com/webcast and tweet your comments, feedback and questions to the panel using hash tag #GoMAtalks.
ABOUT THE DISCUSSION
Some of the big issues and ideas that have defined the 21stcentury, from communication and design, to architecture, health and the environment, have been explored throughout the GoMA Talks series during ‘21stCentury: Art in the First Decade’.
During the final evening of this GoMA Talks series, guest panellists look to the future of the 21st century. What are the big forecasts for the 21stcentury? What are some of the problems we will encounter in the future, and what should we be doing now? Futurists, artists and authors explore ideas on what the future of the 21stcentury might hold for consumers and workers, media, technology, communication and art.
This Thursday (3rd March) we bring you part two of our look at the predictive power of science fiction.
Among our guests – Mike Jones, a lecturer in Screen Studies at AFTRS, the Australian Film, Television and Radio School.
AWFULLY WONDERFUL: SCIENCE FICTION IN CONTEMPORARY ART
CURATED BY BEC DEAN AND LIZZIE MULLER
Awfully Wonderful: Science Fiction in Contemporary Art explores a spectrum of seductive, terrifying and fantastic potential futures, The exhibition presents new and existing work by eleven Australian artists including time machines, hand made robots, meteorological instruments, interplanetary communication, mars gravity simulation, wearable technologies and apocalyptic visions.
Science Fiction is a potent cultural expression of the impact of science and technology on society. In visual art, as in film and literature, artists use the mode of science fiction to open up imaginary worlds and alternative spaces where different social, political and personal possibilities can be explored. In these imaginary worlds, real scientific discoveries, tools and technologies are combined with speculative and fantastical future possibilities.
Awfully Wonderful draws from the curatorial inheritance of the Wonder Chamber, an encyclopedic collection of types of objects whose categorical boundaries were yet to be defined. It brings together the work of artists working across photomedia, installation, performance, sound, video, design and painting. It explores how these different expressions, objects and ephemera can also function as experimental and philosophical conduits, through which truth and fiction mingle, creating powerful new ways of understanding our present and preparing for our future.
Awfully Wonderful includes a diverse public program with films by artists including Melbourne-based Philip Brophy’s Northern Void (2007), as well as the most recently discovered and restored version of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis (1927) introduced by archivist and historian Michael Organ. The program also includes opportunities for discussion and discourse, with artist and curator tours of the exhibition and a RealTime Forum. The exhibition is supported by interpretive material by scientists and children produced in partnership with the Royal Institution of Australia.
Adam Norton’s Mars Gravity Simulation experiment will take place live on opening night and every Saturday from 10am-2pm for the duration of the exhibition. Hayden Fowler’s installation will be inhabited at various unscheduled times during opening hours.
Awfully Wonderful is accompanied by a full colour catalogue including essays on the role of art in the way society debates and adapts to scientific discoveries and unstable futures (available for $10 from Performance Space), and a free downloadable Education Pack for senior students.
Artists: Philip Brophy, Eugene Carchesio, Haines + Hinterding, Deborah Kelly, David Lawrey & Jaki Middleton, Ms & Mr, Hayden Fowler, Ian Haig, Adam Norton, Sam Smith and Simon Yates.
April 15 – May 14
Monday – Saturday, 10am – 5pm
Thursday 14 April, 6pm – 8pm
A full listing of the Awfully Wonderful public program can be found on www.performancespace.com.au
The dates for the next series of talks are as follows…