A Reflection on Emergence

I knew my topic about the first day this project was assigned.  I’ve always been a fan of philosophy and some friends and I had just a few days prior talked about consciousness as an emergent property over lunch (we are a fun bunch).  It seemed specific enough to create an argument, broad enough to have the requisite amount of information needed to talk for nearly 7 minutes.  The first problem I encountered was coming up with the argument.  I knew that one could definitely build an argument around emergence, but discovering what it was took some time.  I eventually decided on “Argue that consciousness is an emergent property,” and just take it from there.

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The first picture I’d like to write about took a bit to find.  I’ve always been a strong believer in including comedy into presentations; I think it holds audience’s attention better and allows the presentation to stand out among the others, even when it’s about something as dense as a philosophical concept.  An issue I had in finding an appropriate picture for this slide was that the CNN analyst was talking about nude photo leaks and I wanted to keep the presentation PG.  Luckily, Mr. Hutchinson provided some excellent satire which served its function well, as I do remember hearing some chuckles from the rest of the class when they saw this.  Even though the text on the slide was the star of the picture, which in the ideal pecha kucha I suppose it shouldn’t be, I think it fit well into the presentation as a whole.

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The second picture I will write about is from a webcomic that I read religiously, xkcd.  As soon as I had the script for the Pecha Kucha written, I knew that I wanted a scene from xkcd as the closer, as it is well known for having witty, minimalist yet thought provoking strips.  I remember one comic in particular, called “Time”, was especially interesting as the image on the website changed over a span of several weeks, telling one cohesive story all the way through (for those curious, here is a link to a website where you can see all of “time”).  So I did a quick google search for “xkcd time” and found this particular scene.  I immediately knew this was the image I would use.  First off, I think the black and white and simple stick figures fit perfectly for the ending of a presentation.  I wanted to end with something simple, yet memorable.  Additionally, the text encapsulates, in a way, how humanity in general views consciousness.  Even though we as a species understands its presence and, to some extent, function, we know so little about it.  We come up with ideas like emergence to explain it, but in the end it is still this beautiful, enigmatic thing (for lack of better word) that every person experiences.

If I were to re-do the pecha kucha, I would attempt to make the slides more than just eye-candy, but rather make them central to the argument – something that I wouldn’t say is true for the majority of my slides.  I think this is a byproduct of writing the script before finding the pictures, unfortunately.  I do, however, think that having a solid script was the most important part of the presentation, and I am very happy with the way mine turned out.

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