Wired for Wonder: great ideas vs. the status quo

Published:  September 7, 2015
Gemma Pass

An education is one of the most important investments we will ever make. During my time in university, I loved learning so much that I would create a customised curriculum for myself at the end of each semester to see me through the break. Now that’s a little dorky, not everybody is going to be into that, but the point is this; as much as I value my university education, learning and the development of ‘big ideas’ does not start and end in a formalised education system. Nor should our education necessarily be restricted to a particular field of study or practice.


I am not saying that we shouldn’t specialise in a particular field (we all know the value of an expert) but I think that it’s important to not disregard what experts in other fields of study are up to; because what they’re learning and how they approach their work may very well enhance the practice of our own. Whether we choose to apply this to our careers or to the everyday navigation of our personal lives, the ability to be open-minded and to practice cognitive disinhibition is what will enable us to be innovative and make positive change to not only ourselves but to the world around us.

As many of you know, desktop had the infinite pleasure of attending Wired for Wonder on Aug 28. We left with our minds blown, our stomachs full and our imaginations running off into another dimension. One of the greatest takeaways came from Jack Andraka, an American teenager who was only fifteen when he invented an inexpensive early detection test for pancreatic, ovarian and lung cancers on his sophomore summer break. Now, I know what you’re thinking; he must have been some kind of child genius who had the periodic table memorised by the time he was six, right? Cool. But what if I told you that he didn’t even quite know where the pancreas was when he started?

Image by Mark Lobo Photography

Great ideas lend themselves to everyone, not just those who go to Harvard or Yale, Jack said. He made us think about how often we limit ourselves by societal expectations of age, gender, tertiary qualification etc. before we’ve even given ourselves the chance.


Image by Mark Lobo Photography

Nolan Bushnell, a technology pioneer (known as the first and only person to hire the late Steve Jobs) also challenged our ideas of education, learning, creativity and innovation. He says that the way we learn hasn’t evolved in over 100 years, which really got us thinking about what he describes as ‘the war of the future vs. the war of the status quo’. He argues that we’re training out creativity in our educational institutions and as a result, feeding a real life zombie apocalypse. The tech industry is increasingly aware of this, so much so that multi-billion dollar companies like Apple no longer ask for university degrees. Instead, they are asking whether or not a person is ‘full of life’ and thinking out-of-the-box because although formal qualifications are valuable in many ways, they don’t necessarily guarantee a curious and innovative mind.

Nolan Bushnell 2

Image by Mark Lobo Photography

His advice and our takeaway? Attend trade shows, learn a new skill(s), walk into the wrong lecture (and stay there), anything and everything that will broaden your horizons and get you out of the daily grind. Even if it doesn’t seem relevant. The ability for you to work better, live better and be better, depends on it.

Nolan Bushnell

Image by Mark Lobo Photography

As for the navigation of our love lives, Hannah Fry (mathematician and author of The Mathematics of Love), recommends that we ditch our ‘ideal partner quality lists’ in favour of a better understanding of the patterns that underpin our relationships; challenging our perceptions of the relevance of mathematics and love.

Image by Mark Lobo Photography

Did we mention that there were some seriously food-coma inducing food installations like this Willy Wonka-esque dessert table?

Image by Mark Lobo Photography

Because we have to fuel our bodies too, right?

Image by Mark Lobo Photography

For more information on this years program and butt-kicking speakers (who covered everything from the psychology of residential space to living with artificial intelligence), follow the link below.



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