Posted by
Barry Siskind
UFIs Community Manager

I’m a fan of TED Talks. These short snippets of wisdom by everyday people have made a profound difference in the way I look at things. Even when the topic seems unrelated to what I do, I learn something new.

A recent TED Talk by neuroscientist Stuart Firestein called The Pursuit of Ignorance, got me thinking.

Professor Firestein, an academic, suggests that the backbone of science has always been in uncovering areas of knowledge that we don’t know or understand and that the more we learn the more we realize how much more there is to learn.

He states that people who tackle the big questions such as, what is life, is there life on other planets, or how did the universe begin, often find that following the “the scientific method” does not lead to satisfactory conclusions.

The same argument can also be made about the rules that govern business. If everything was controlled by prescribed rules, success would inevitably follow. However, if this was true, then every exhibition, exhibitor and facility would be immediately successful.

So, as I listened to Professor Firestein, and thought about our industry, I concluded that perhaps we should devote more time to uncovering the big questions we face such as what will the role of face to face marketing look like in the future, or what are the key threats to the exhibition business, or is there a continuing role for exhibitions in a world of technology.

I believe this may lead to a greater appreciation of what our business is all about. We are a business that melds psychology, economics, commerce and sociology into a pot that we continually stir.

To paraphrase Professor Firestein, in an age of Google and Wikipedia, is the traditional model of science (and in our case the world of exhibitions) still relevant? We must understand the boundaries of what is available through technology and see beyond.