The importance of being a failure
June 6, 2009 2:41 AM   Subscribe

The internet loves it when things go wrong, anything from photoshopping to cakes. And while your personal failure might turn out to provide enjoyment for others, Adam Savage tells about the importance and upsides of colossal failures at Maker Faire. posted by bjrn (17 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite
Loved it! Thank you.
posted by archagon at 4:36 AM on June 6, 2009

The Sarich Orbital Engine, one time share market darling in Australia, was a colossal failure... but it had a rather neat fuel injection system that made the company some dough and was good enough to make it to production.

Ford were looking very closely at it IIRC. Can't find a link, but I remember reading how it could operate in high gears at low revs eg. go up a steep hill without having to change back to 2nd gear.

Obligatory discussion on BIG OIL suppressing the technology.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 5:01 AM on June 6, 2009

Great talk. I'd love to hear it again when he's fleshed it out even more; he's an engaging, funny speaker.
posted by defenestration at 6:30 AM on June 6, 2009

Failure is going to happen if you are taking chances & experimenting.
posted by rageagainsttherobots at 8:14 AM on June 6, 2009

Interesting talk, fleshed out the handling of personal failure but only touched the modern problem of shared failure. I'd love to hear more how in fail-prone group, for example in Mythbusters, people react differently and push the blame around and how they have learned to deal with it. Adam personally seems to handle it well, but does it help with other people's post-fail stress disorder?
posted by Free word order! at 8:26 AM on June 6, 2009

Did anyone else find the video player to be a massive fail? It took control of my browser session so that nothing else would load, and the video would freeze every time I stopped moving the mouse..
posted by Chuckles at 8:51 AM on June 6, 2009

weird - the video stalls for me at just over 44 minutes, and reloading doesn't seem to change things.

great talk, though. not that i'm a big fan of failure, but boy howdy it's a learning tool.
posted by rmd1023 at 9:15 AM on June 6, 2009

actually, it failed in firefox but worked in safari.
posted by rmd1023 at 9:17 AM on June 6, 2009

i agree with MeFi's Own Effigy2000.
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:12 AM on June 6, 2009

I know people who haven't failed in anything, ever.

Of course, they also haven't done anything, ever, as well..
posted by DreamerFi at 11:08 AM on June 6, 2009 [1 favorite]

The flash from the cameras are a huge distraction, and it can't be too comfortable for him. You can see him blink hard when he's faced right at the flashes.

However, the talk is wonderful. I always find Adam to be an engaging speaker.
posted by czechmate at 1:23 PM on June 6, 2009

My favorite stories to tell are about my more humiliating failures (What few Success Stories I have are boring as hell). Like when I got a freelance gig writing for the People's Almanac/Book of Lists people and was given one of the "Intimate Sex Lives of Famous People" articles... on Pessimist Philosopher Alfred Schopenhauer. What would be interesting about the sex life of Schopenhauer? Well, I considered it a challenge and produced what I considered a good 1000-word read about the old curmudgeon. But after submitting it, the editor (NOT a member of the Wallace/Wallechinsky family) told me I had missed an important fact, one that was buried in euphemism in the research I used but which made Schopenhauer worthy of inclusion in the book - he died of complications of syphilis. They let me rewrite it and gave me one other easier "Sex Lives" assignment (Scottish Poet Robert Burns), but at the time I felt like I had failed all my high school classes of creative writing, history and sex ed all at once.
posted by wendell at 1:53 PM on June 6, 2009

P.S.: if you own a copy of the book, yes, I am the Wittler on the list of contributors with a different first name. Please don't pass it around.
posted by wendell at 1:54 PM on June 6, 2009

If he says "ATM machine" one more time I'm going to scream.
posted by mrnutty at 4:20 PM on June 6, 2009

But that was an entertaining speech.
posted by mrnutty at 4:32 PM on June 6, 2009

If he says "ATM machine" one more time I'm going to scream.

Yeah, stop that already, FFS sake!
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:16 PM on June 6, 2009

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