I was pretty damned excited to hear Joe Nickell talk and Jennifer Ouellette (SEO pros would be appalled at how much I'm linking back to my own post about her) turned out to be my surprise favourite speaker, but if there was one person who I was excited about from the start who did not let-down in the least, it was Adam Savage from MythBusters.
Adam's presentation was unique. Everyone else – to a man (plus Jennifer) – had slides and many had audio and/or video. Adam – whose show regularly creates contraptions of boggling yet limited practical prowess – brought absolutely nothing with him. He didn't use the podium. He simply sat on the front edge of the table used for panel discussions with the microphone and talked.
Despite my intention to only video record bits and pieces of people's talks I broke down and videoed almost the entire thing. ....Which is kind of ironic as it was the least visually engaging in any immediate sense. But there was something in the Spalding Gray-esque simplicity of it that was wholly compelling.
Adam's talk was about failure.
He never explicitly said so, but I don't think it was lost on anyone that failure is important to science. Admitting failure and learning from it is one of the distinguishing features of science that separates it from most of the world's ideologies. Science, practically by definition, self-corrects.
I have said for years that I do not make mistakes – I make lessons. Adam's talk showed that he too has lived by that credo (whether in those terms or not) and that he has out-performed me in at least the latter side of that equation, if not (and possibly even because of) doing so on both sides.
He made almost the exact same talk at Maker Faire in May, so I'm gonna cheat... it's worth it.