Education Presentation

Time to Pull Myself Together

Inspire Particle Show
Credit: flickr / arthurx Titanium

On Monday, I’m giving my “Art, Life and Programming” presentation. I’m a little burnt out after a crazy semester and frankly terrified, because I’m presenting in French.

So since I got back to Canada, I’ve been working on revising my slides and thinking about what I’m going to talk about. It’s turned out, that there’s a lot more work to do on them than I thought. So I’ve been getting panicky and stressed, which makes me less inspired, so it all seems harder than it should.

This morning, though, something clicked. 1. I have a hard time believing that I have something of value to say to that number of people, and 2. the university promotion of my talk has several errors in it (this was a little upsetting – I would have been happy to correct it, had it been sent to me). However, let’s combine these things – clearly, what I’m talking about is not obvious. Not everyone knows about it. So hopefully there will be something of value that I share with all these people.

And, if I’m not happy with my slides (which I spent a lot of time on back in August or December), that just goes to show that my presentation skills have improved.

If I’m not happy with my content, if I feel like there are things missing – that just shows how much more I know now than I did 3 months ago.

At the highest level, my talk is about how technology has changed the world, and how it will continue to. At the highest level, what’s my goal? To inspire people with and about technology, to make it seem accessible as a career, a choice for university.

On Monday, I’m going to be terrified. No point denying that as if you see me you will almost certainly know. But also on Monday I’m going to be doing my tiny bit to make a difference. I’m going to be jumping up and down and hard and as high as I can, because we need to make a tidal wave to make a change.

We can recycle all our plastic bottles. And we can cut down on international flights. We can walk to the corner store instead of drive, but our world has more problems than global warming. We can shop sustainably, we can encourage development through services like Kiva, but globally, there are many problems other than poverty. Governments can borrow money and spend it on services to create jobs, but how well that works is variable.

Here’s what I believe – technology will help us save the planet – it will provide viable alternatives to flying, and smart solutions to reduce our global footprint. Technology will make the world smaller and provide more options to people in developing countries, lifting them out of poverty. It will make it easier to force corrupt governments to be accountable, and provide means for citizens under oppressive regimes to communicate with the outside world. Innovation, not just in the financial sector, will be how the west recovers from this latest collapse.

This, I think, is bigger than my fear. So that’s what I’m going to focus on. Because I think in order to make this reality, we need nations of technologists and innovators, not bankers and traffic wardens. What better way to start than with a big group of 7-10 year olds and their families?