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Try Not: Do (New Zealand National Digital Forum, Closing Remarks)


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Text from a short video for the closing plenary of the 2013 New Zealand National Digital Forum. This was cooked up - - improvised - - with no advanced planning a few hours before Andy Fenton's conference wrap-up.

Many thanks to Andy and everyone at the #ndfnz for allowing me to be there with you, if only for a few minutes, virtually.

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Try Not: Do (New Zealand National Digital Forum, Closing Remarks)

  1. 1. Try Not: Do New Zealand National Digital Forum, Closing Remarks [video of this presentation: ] Hi everyone. When Andy Fenton got in touch with me a few minutes ago to ask if I would comment on the conference themes for your closing plenary session, I thought he said the themes were instigation, scheme, and malice... And I thought, wow, that's awesome, but things have changed a lot in the last couple of years in New Zealand, haven’t they? But now I understand that the themes are inspiration, dream, and challenge. Those are big, loaded, emotional words. They speak to me of a group of people who aren't going to be happy doing the thing they did yesterday just because it's what has always been done. They speak to me of restlessness, and urgency. 1
  2. 2. ...But I want to add another word to those three, and that word is do. I was in a museum strategy workshop a few years ago with the eminent researcher and writer Robert Edsel, and Pete Wilson, who was the Governor of California, and room full of impressive historians, civic leaders, and businesspeople. And even though I was, way, way, way out of my league, I was going on and on about how important it was for this particular museum, with this particular mission, to succeed: to rise above its own rhetoric about inspiration, dreams, and challenge—its preoccupation with its own buildings and collections and visitors—to use the Internet, at a global scale, to really serve humanity... to win, for all of us. And when I finally stopped to draw in a breath and look around the room, there was an awkward silence. I was afraid I had lost my colleagues. Or offended them— diminished the importance of what they had accomplished. And just when I was about to give up hope and crawl back down into my own little hole,Robert Edsel, who is this intense, erudite gentleman with shocking white hair and a very impressive demeanor, straightened up next to me, cleared his throat, and said... "In the words of Yoda, Try not: do." * * * * * 2
  3. 3. We need all the inspiration we can get, because the work of society and humanity in the not-too-distant future is going to get so much harder, so much weirder, and so much more full of ambiguity and frustration and dead ends than it has ever been before. And I think we need big beautiful dreams now because we can have them, thanks to the Internet. And "challenge" I'm not sure if you means as a noun or a verb.If you mean it as a verb, then you're challenging what you see. If you mean it is as a noun, "a challenge", then yes, it is: all of this is a challenge. But it's the only game in town. You're the only players. And you've got to win. You must do. You must do, starring now... Kia ora. Thank you Andy, everyone, for giving me the opportunity to be with you for a few moments at the end of your conference. — Michael Edson November 26, 2013 Washington, D.C [video of this presentation:] 3