You are directly responsible for what you put into the world. Yet every day designers all over the world work on projects without giving any thought or consideration to the impact that work has on the world around them. This needs to change.
In this video of his talk at PSFK CONFERENCE NYC, Clay Shirky talks about the work of Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP) at the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University. After working there as an assistant professor for almost ten years, Shirky describes five student projects that he thinks are pushing the creative boundaries - from interface design to how people cluster to build new work. At the end of the talk, the technology thought-leader compares creatives as members of a philharmonic orchestra and wonders if any rules can be drawn from looking at such an ensemble.
Transcript for Closed Captioning
Ken Burns On Story Transcription
You know the common story is one plus one equals two, we get it. But all stories are really, the real genuine stories, are about one and one equaling three. That’s what I’m interested in.
We live in a rational world where absolutely we’re certain that one and one equals two, and it does. But the things that matter most to us, some people call it love, some people call it God, some people call it reason, is that other thing where the whole is greater than the some of its parts, and that’s the three.
Oh great story, they are everywhere. There are millions of them! Abraham Lincoln wins the Civil War and then he decides he’s got enough time to go to the theater. That’s a good story. When Thomas Jefferson said we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, he owned a hundred human beings and never saw the hypocrisy, never saw the contradiction, and more important, never saw fit in his lifetime to free any one of them. That’s a good story. You know the stories that I like to tell are always interesting because the good guys have really serious flaws and the villains are very compelling. My interest is always in complicating things.
Jean Luc Goddard said cinema is truth 24 times a second. Maybe. It’s lying 24 times a second too, all the time, all story is manipulation. Is there acceptable manipulation? You bet. People say oh boy, I was so moved to tears in your film. That’s a good thing? That was, I manipulated that. That’s part of storytelling. I didn’t do it dis-genuinely, I did it sincerely, I am moved by that too, that’s manipulation. Truth is we hope a byproduct of the best of our stories and yet there are many, many different kinds of truths and an emotional truth is something that you have to build.
I made a film on baseball once and it seemed to me that there was a dilemma for the racist of what to do about Jackie Robinson. If you were a Brooklyn Dodger fan and you were a racist, what do you do when he arrives? You can quit baseball all together, you can change teams, or you can change. And I think that the kind of narrative that I subscribe trusts in the possibility that people could change. I hope it’s a positive version of manipulation, but I do think that we do coalesce around stories that seem transcendent.
I don’t know why I tell stories about history I mean there’s kind of classic dime-store Ken Burns wolf-at-the door things, my mother had cancer all of my life, she died when I was 11, there wasn’t a moment from when I was aware, two-and-a-half, three, that there was something dreadfully wrong in my life. It might be that what I’m engaged in, in a historical pursuit is a thin layer perhaps thickly disguised waking of the dead, that I try to make Abraham Lincoln and Jackie Robinson and Louis Armstrong come alive and it maybe very obvious and very close to home who I’m actually trying to wake up. We have to keep the wolf from the door, you know, we tell stories to continue ourselves. We all think an exception is going to be made in our case and we’re going to live forever, and being a human is actually arriving at the understanding that that’s not going to be, story is there to just remind us that it’s just okay.
Here’s a new short that I filmed with some friends over the past month. It’s a 10 minute documentary called “The Politics of Competitive Board Gaming Amongst Friends”; a title that pretty much sums up the content.
From a technical standpoint, I wanted to shoot this short as a sort of dry run for the recreations in my upcoming feature documentary, How to Build a Time Machine. Although the content and approach will be pretty different than what’s presented here, I just wanted to take on a small project that would allow me to play around with re-enactments. I shot this with the Panasonic AF100, using the following lenses: Nikon 50mm, Nikon 35mm, Panasonic Lumix 14mm. I didn’t do a whole lot for lighting aside from assisting some of the practical lights in Matt’s apartment (a 650 bounced off the ceiling), and stringing some coloured Christmas lights in the background for some visual points of interest. For the interviews, I used a single bulb cool light hung directly overhead the subjects along with a 250W tungsten key light (diffused X2) and another cool light as a back light.
Our speaker at the June 2011 CreativeMornings/NewYork was Yancey Strickler co-founder of Kickstarter (http://www.kickstarter.com/). The event was generously hosted by Galapagos Art Space (http://galapagosartspace.com/) in DUMBO, Brooklyn.
CreativeMornings is a monthly breakfast lecture series for creative types. Each event is free of charge, and includes a 20 minute talk, plus coffee! (http://www.creativemornings.com)
A big thank you to Sy J. Abudu (http://syjabudu.com/) for filming and editing the talk.