Richard Saul Wurman

We don’t have to be here, we could get things off the web, out of a book. There’s something so enormoursly special about conversation. They haven’t invented a computer that nods. Think about that. When you talk to another human being they nod, sometimes a lot, sometimes imperceptably. Sometimes a noise comes out of their mouth like from Jeff Bezos that you hear for miles around. As much as we don’t have to come to a conference, it’s expensive, it’s a committment, it’s the space between the events is as important or more important. These conversation are longer than a speech! The celebration of conversation, which we’re never taught in school, how to talk to another human being. The number one thing in a relationship, it’s not about sex, it’s not about money, it’s about having a conversation. (Especially in later years.)

You can have conversations with animate objects and inanimate objects. Buildings you can’t have a conversation with aren’t as good building. Same for books. All of my books are not so good, the last two were pretty good, Understanding Health Care and Understandni Children. My goal was to have a conversation with the page. I do love the art of talking to people, and reacting, and taking that goal into all of our work. The best speeches are those where the person can be having a conversaiton with the audience.

Richard Saul Wurman

Two Jewish women every Friday they have a luncheon date, have a drink, then lunch. They go in, the first one says “Oy!” The second one says “Oy vey!” The first one says “Let’s stop talking about our children, time for something else.”

Think about the comedian, and this amazing thing that they do, of giving you a different look at something. I cant wait to see Jonathan Winters. Some comedians are amazing, I learn so much. “Everything is in walking distance if you have enough time.” Think of that sentence, that’s a two semester course in city planning, in how to talk to another person. A friend was picked up by the police because she was walking in LA, in Beverly Hills.

I’m not surprised I was invited, but that doesn’t make it not an honor tobe in front of you. He’s going to read some Wormanisms.

Everything takes place someplace. All news, everywhere should be organized that way. We get into bad habits of watching TV news and we have no idea where it’s happening, you have to get grounded. What is it that makes you get into something, takes it away, what’s the first sentence someone says clears the anxiety. If a booger is hanging out of my nose that’s all you could think about if you were talking to me.

You have to in a conversation, understand what it’s like to not understand. You have understand understanding. Which is a funny word.

I once was forced to do my own road atlas, because I realized you don’t drive across the United States alphabetically. Most do one state per page, which means they’re all at a different scale.

I did a fable in 1975, called the architecture of information, was running the AIA national conference with 5,000 people. Even I could not do the keynote at a conference I was chairing, that was too over the top, so decided not to have a keynote. Wrote a keynote fable, a historic fable of the futuer. One of my favorite books. The main character was the commisioner of Curiosity and Imaginition. First thing he does is change the laws of copyright to the right to copy, he flipped everything in society and flipped it. The only thing you could copyright was bad ideas. One new department, Waiting to be Wanted. Dedicated to old buildings and old people. Life didn’t come from chloroform. They found life coming from hot sulfur water, or cold methane gas.

There’s been some wonderful presentations, I had never heard Nicholas better, not to say he’s been bad before. He’s really a pain in the ass, so tough, so funny, so hard to get to sometimes, but he’s done such a service for it. In 1984 at the first TED conference he announced the MIT Media Lab.

One minute to go: 19 cities in the world with 20 million people in the 21st century. 51% of the people live in urban areas. Borders between nations are hostile. There are sister cities but no sister countries. We know nothing, comparitively about the cities of the world. Even when you take census from city to city, sometimes it’s block data, sometimes in census tracks, you may have a number but no density. You might know mean income, but what about the cost of living? We started a project called 19.20.21. No two cities ask the same questions, have maps drawn to the same scale, we’re going to develop new ways of mapping, have comparative statistics. Most of the major cities in the world are on the water, so will be impacted heavily by global warming and the water level rising. Cities are the new unit of significance, not countries.

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