Richard Saul Wurman at Cal Poly Pomona

Richard Saul Wurman (RSW) the founder of the TED conferences (and former dean of the College of Environmental Design at Cal Poly) is about to give gave a rare public appearance at Cal Poly Pomona this evening (tweeted as #RSW_ENV).  I’m going to live blog his talk.   This post is a (mildly) edited live transcription of his talk.

Richard Saul Wurman – information architect

RSW: Lovely to be back in a place that rescued me from bankruptcy, had the job for a year then was fired. Loved all the students, the president was terribly gracious. Taught one class that was open to all students  – ‘Passion in Pomona’ what his friends were passionate about. Francis Crick, Frank O. Gehry, a kite maker – the collection of odd people was a continuation of my curiosities – I’m not very bright, but shallow, and broad looking into lots of connections. Didn’t want hyperbolic introduction.

Dean Micheal Woo:  Tonight we’re having a dialog between me and Mr. Wurman, then open it to audience questions. [Continued on verbatim repeat of the email sent out about the event]:

I first learned about Mr. Wurman in the early 1970s, when he published a series of books which attempt to explain the physical environment and explore the ways in which people understand how cities and designed environments work [Our Man-Made Environment — Book Seven (1970); Making the City Observable (1971); The Nature of Recreation: A handbook in honor of Frederick Law Olmsted, using examples From his work (1972); Yellow Pages of Learning Resources (1972)]. He was educated as an architect at the University of Pennsylvania, where he worked with Louis Kahn and later co-edited The Notebooks and Drawings of Louis Kahn (1973).

This is like interviewing Charlie Parker or Robert Johnson for a music lover.  [ Gave away a book to a student that rsvp’d via facebook]

RSW: I write about things that I don’t know about. As a 76 y.o. I needed to know about the medical system so I wrote about it. Wrote about children cause I have several… Singular passion to learn about what he doesn’t know and wants to learn about. Sold TED it in 2002. Reinventing several conferences about innovation. Defining innovation differently – need to do more than that. Incremental change – nobody invented a car – it was a bunch of additions and combinations. TED was subtractions: got rid of suits, panels, long speeches, silos around disciplines… like Passion at Pomona.

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