Architects, Polymaths, TED and Continuing Professional Development

What can to web teach us? Quite a lot, actually.

I have a distant relative in Dublin who is also a successful Architect and back when I first announced my intention to study the subject, he took me aside and gave me some advice. He explained that in order to have any chance of making it in the profession, one had to be a 'Jack of all Trades, but a Master of None'. This really does sum up an Architect's work, we are polymaths, from the Greek, meaning someone who has learned much. The reason for this generalisation is that we make all kinds of buildings for all kinds of people in all kinds of places. As a profession, we cant afford to be specific. Any competent Architect should have a grasp of History, Economics, Mathematics, Sociology, Psychology, Art Theory, Biology, Engineering, Culture...the list could go on for a very long time. Looking back now, it was the promise of this broad field of study that attracted me to Architecture. I have always had an interest in things in general, rather than anything specific. That is why I love the TED organisation. Technology Entertainment Design, those are the three core fields TED stands for. What TED does is to gather some of the worlds leading experts in these fields, put them on stage for 18 minutes and ask them to speak on the most profound or important ideas they have. The talks are recorded and the videos are available free on the website. Genius. As a Chartered Architect I am required by the RIBA to complete 35 hours of Continuing Professional Development each year. Most of the CPD is structured in a set curriculum but 15.5 hours is at my own discretion. TED wont provide all of that, or anywhere near it, but it is fascinating and some of the speakers do provide unique insight into their fields. Some of these could have direct applications in my field. Imagine using your Nintendo Wii for 3D visualization. How good design can save lives. How supposedly 'primitive' cultures use sophisticated mathematics in their Buildings. Cities could be the solution to the worlds problems, not the source. Inspirational stories of how other Architects design their buildings. This is another list that could go on for a very long time. I try to set aside 30 minutes each week to see the latest videos on the site. It seem to be gathering a serious following both on-line and in academia. To the point now where I can imagine being asked to give a TED talk could be the pinnacle of a persons career.