HOW TO MAKE A SCIENTIFIC LECTURE UNBEARABLE
ALEXANDER KOHN, ANNALS OF IMPROBABLY RESEARCH - At a symposium, meeting
or congress when there are a number of speakers, there comes a moment
when your name is called. A nice ploy to attract the attention of the
audience to you at this stage is to place yourself in the middle of the
last row, so that when you are introduced as the next speaker, you raise
the whole row, stepping on their toes, proceed slowly to the front and
then start searching your pockets for a convoluted pack of your lecture
notes. Next you extract from another pocket a package of slides with
which you go back to the projectionist and enter into an animated
discussion with him trying to explain which slide is first and which
side up and instructing him: "And don't forget to show slide No. 3 again
after slide 7." Then you go back to the lectern, and start searching for
your reading glasses. If you find them they would probably be in an
unexpected pocket. Next you proceed to "read the paper." and we mean
literally "read" it. . .
If you wish to put your audience to sleep as soon as possible after
starting to lecture, begin with the enumeration of all historically
important papers published in the last 50 years that have any bearing on
the subject matter. Another well tested method is to start talking about
something that has nothing to do with the subject by saying for
instance: "Before we turn to the discussion of......, let us shortly
Beginning at the beginning is an unpardonable mistake. Some speakers use
the so called multiple colon technique. They say: Mr. Chairman, I should
like to say: the situation is as follows: I mean to say that: I should
like to clarify in this lecture some points which are not sufficiently
clear: etc. etc. If you continue for a few minutes in this vein, you
lose the audience very soon. . .
Wrongly adjusted microphones help in losing the audience. This is
especially true if there is only one microphone on the speakers table
and he happens to wander around while pointing to the screen or writing
on the blackboard. If you happen to be attached to a neck or breast
microphone via an umbilical cord then a good method is to stand in front
of the blackboard with your back to the audience, and speak over your
shoulder so that the microphone is well screened by your shoulders. . .
THE FAMILIAR STRANGER
FAMILIAR STRANGER PROJECT - As humans we live and interact across a
wildly diverse set of physical spaces. We each formulate our own
personal meaning of place using a myriad of observable cues such as
public-private, large-small, daytime-nighttime, loud-quiet, and
crowded-empty. Unsurprisingly, it is the people with which we share
such spaces that dominate our perception of place. Sometimes these
people are friends, family and colleagues. More often, and particularly
in public urban spaces we inhabit, the individuals who affect us are
ones that we repeatedly observe and yet do not directly interact with -
our Familiar Strangers. This research project explores our often
ignored yet real relationships with Familiar Strangers. . .
The Familiar Stranger is a social phenomenon first addressed by the
psychologist Stanley Milgram in his 1972 essay on the subject. Familiar
Strangers are individuals that we regularly observe but do not interact
with. By definition a Familiar Stranger (1) must be observed, (2)
repeatedly, and (3) without any interaction. The claim is that the
relationship we have with these Familiar Strangers is indeed a real
relationship in which both parties agree to mutually ignore each other,
without any implications of hostility. A good example is a person that
one sees on the subway every morning. If that person fails to appear, we
notice. . .
While we are bound to the people we know by a circle of social
reciprocity, no such bond exists between us and complete strangers.
Familiar Strangers buffer the middle ground between these two
relationships. Because we encounter them regularly in familiar settings,
they establish our connection to individual places. . .
Current trends in mobile phone usage increasingly divide people from
co-located strangers within their community. Uncomfortable in strange
situations or public places, people reach for their mobile phones,
dramatically decreasing the chance of interacting with individuals
outside of their social groups. We hope that our exploration of the
Familiar Stranger will promote discussion around tools that work to
improve community solidarity and sense of belonging in urban spaces.
Encouragingly, newly emerging mobile phone uses draw us into acceptable
social contact with strangers. . .