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(generated from captions) This Program is Captioned Live. # Theme music I'm Waleed Aly. Hi there and welcome to Big Ideas, the wisdom of crowdsourcing Amongst our Short Cuts today, and Future Sex - Festival of Ideas. two of the best from Brisbane's Howard Jacobson Plus, Man Booker winner should always be in vogue. on why funny novels if one's a good writer. Because, I think one's funny because life is funny, One's not funny

because life isn't. one's funny life ends in death, It's precisely because nothing waiting for us after this precisely because there is that we are funny.

in the afterlife You can't be a believer and also be funny. (Chuckles) It's not possible. the Jewish Jane Austen More from the man who calls himself a little later. But first, Cities for People. in the early '60s The concept was first floated the design and planning agenda. but seems to have fallen off returning it to the front and centre But one man who's passionate about Jan Gehl. is renowned Danish architect It's the title of his new book.

a lively city and a lifeless city, If you have to choose between having you will pick the lively city reasons for that. and there is a number of Some changes in society - more leisure time, smaller households, fewer kids in each household. There are many, many reasons in our social life like why the public component has an increasing importance. whenever we do good public places And there are good reasons why

and use them. the people will come in great numbers they are not good enough. If they don't it's because if you build a city for people You also - you get a more attractive city, a city in a more nice scale attraction number one in our lives, and also a city where you will get

the access to other people - which are watching girls and all that. maybe you would stop watching girls I always thought that after a certain number of years beautiful continues to be beautiful but I can assure you that what is is throughout life and interest in other people to the very last day. from the very first day Number one attraction. You have a safer city it's perceived safer because if there are people around and it is safer. You have a more sustainable city and bicycle, because the more people walk and good thing to do that in itself is very important and a good public realm, but good public transportation they are brothers and sisters transportation system because to have a good public light rail and your train, whatever, you have to get to and from your by all time of day and night and you have to do it in safety and comfort

so these things are interlinked. of creating healthy cities And we have increasingly the problem and we have realised by now to have healthy cities that we can do a lot in city planning and prevent having unhealthy cities. Many cities now have policies as much as possible in this city that we shall walk and bike policy for the health budgets. because that's a very, very good I always thought it was obesity - that was the problem that people got too fat, 'no, it's inactivity.' then I met these doctors that said, morning, during the transport, If you sit on your behind,

and all evening during the work, during the transport day after day that is what is the problem. and you are in trouble. You can be very slim and inactive and you will be fine. You can be very fat and active So, one hour of moderate activity, or bicycling for an hour a day like walking for an hour a day will keep the doctor away. extra years of life expectancy Actually, you will have seven would be generally good years and these years

and hospital and whatever with not too much medicine for society if we move. and there will be great benefits activity and movement And that's why we try now to put of people's life - into the ordinary pattern escalator up to the fitness centre, instead of expecting them to take the that many don't do it because we realise and a few other things and many haven't got time and energy that you just walk and bicycle so it's much better as part of your life. to the second part So, I will now come and I know that time is running short and I will, of course, speed up or say, at least, I will. For many years when all this happened we didn't really know influenced our lifestyles. that the way we built our cities Now that is well documented with great, um, sureness and we can say that first we shaped the cities our way of living but then certainly the cities shaped in our lives. and the quality we can have it's right down to this, We also know that the individual rooms in the house to the buildings or that we can shape the places of our opportunities. and then the shape will shape some where you will never stop You can make cities my friend, go home and watch video.' because the city signalises, 'go on,

where every little nook and cranny Or you can make a city and linger or whatever. invites you to sit down and stop there's a lot of influence We know that

from architecture to the behaviour. All this is known now. about invitations. I'll tell you something more invitations for more traffic? What happens if we make We get more traffic. We know that exactly. And we've known that for 100 years of traffic and every city has an arbitrary level they got in the first place. depending on how much asphalt you reduce the number of asphalt, It's very interesting that when which is very difficult and scream because a lot of people will yell are given by God and say that these roads and you can not touch our asphalt. the earthquake in San Francisco But if it's God, like in

so it can't be used, who rattles the freeways then San Francisco would die San Francisco, Embarcadero Freeway, because the bloodline for was not useable what they should do and before they found out to rebuild Embarcadero Freeway, they found out that San Francisco was doing fine without the freeway

and the freeway is now a boulevard with trams. So the traffic found a new level. You could never have done that for the sake of mankind but if God rattles the freeway, that's Act of God, that's alright. What happens if we are sweet to bicycles - bicycling? And I shall go a little bit into this because that is one of the policies also followed now in New York, in Melbourne, in Sydney, in a number of cities. Even in Washington they have bike lanes down the middle of Pennsylvania Avenue, pointing to the...Congress. In Copenhagen, there has been for years and years a bicycle tradition and very early on

they started to build a complete system of bicycle lanes in every single major street -

proper bike lanes next to the sidewalk and protected by curbs. And we call these Copenhagen-style bicycle lanes. That means the parked cars, they protect the bicycles - instead of the other system where you use the bicycles to protect the parked cars. (Laughter) In Copenhagen this has been developed over the years into a really efficient transport system. You can easily have a good life without having a car. You can transport whatever. Every third family with children in Copenhagen have a cargo bike so they can bring the little ones to kindergarten and school and there's heavy traffic of cargo bikes by now. A lot has been done to make it safer all the time with crossings, with special lights. We even have green waves now. We used to have green waves so that traffic could run smoothly out of the city at rush hour

now we have retimed the lights so that bicycles can go 20 kilometres and never stop, when they go home after work. Of course, in a good bicycle city it should be an integrated system so that you can get your bike on all the various modes of transport. All taxis take two. Trams, metro take your bicycles for free. And that's a fantastic thing because then you suddenly have a system you can live in the suburb, take your bike, take it on the train, go to the city and continue...fine. So, all this has been built up and I know that we've been herded for 50 years in Copenhagen by now we have a distinct bicycle culture. Everybody and his uncle bicycles and it's sort of lifestyle to bicycle. Businessmen bicycle, pregnant women, mothers bicycle. The Lord Mayor arrives at his Town Hall every day on his bicycle. The politicians love to be photographed in the television coming up to Parliament and park their bike. Even the bass players bicycle. And, OK, yes, the Crown Prince of Denmark is also found to be doing it and that is good news here because the kid is 50% Australian and that shows that Australians can learn if they... Now they have expanded the training to four half Australian kids so the thing is spreading. Tell you about bicycle culture - my wife and I,

we celebrated some years ago our 45th anniversary. It was a nice summer day so we took our bicycles. We were not quite young at that point. And then we bicycled on all these nice bicycle lanes side by side and in all the crossings, they were safe crossings so we bicycled in comfort and style. We bicycled around in the city and across the harbour and finally we found a nice place, a sidewalk cafe where we could have a meal

and then we went back and of course you can wobble a bit. After the dinner, you can have an extra glass of red wine if you're on bicycle. And when we came home we realised that had done 20 kilometres on bicycle on this occasion without thinking about it, just peddling along. And then we thought - we talked about it and we realised that when we were married all this was not possible. This has happened. And also we had this feeling, and we have that in Copenhagen, that every day you wake up is a little bit better than the day before and that's a fantastic feeling to have in a city

and that we do have in Copenhagen. This - from London, it would be starting in Hyde Park and going over past Kings Cross, and over to Southwark, and whatever, and go back again. Long trip.

All the progressive firms in Copenhagen now have company bicycle helmets. And what has happened is that we see bicycling growing every year and now the growth of the bicycling has become quite a bit of a problem, which is interesting, but it's much easier to solve than having too many cars. Bicycling has doubled. And now we have 37% of everybody going to work on bicycle every day. And 70% continuing. And we have, over the time, got more and more problems, because a mayor complained about - there is too much congestion on the bicycle lanes, so what do we do? We have, on some of the streets, they count, 36,000 bicycles a day on these key streets in the city and actually they want to have more of this, because it's very good economy.

They found that if you do a kilometre on a bike, the society earns a quarter of a dollar. If you do the same kilometre in a car, the society loses 60 cents. So the more people you can get bicycling, the better for society, er, economy. It's a complicated calculation. You can also see that there are - we don't have compulsory bike helmets. They found that if they introduce compulsory bike helmets, we can reduce bicycling by 50% overnight. And they say that it's much better for health economy that we have many people bicycling much, and then we will take the risk of some of them getting injuries

while they are young, but it's much better that they continue and they're old, whatever, and they have campaigns, and now a third have bicycle helmets and I think it's very wise not to make it compulsory,

so we can choose. Certain stretches I always take my bike helmet, but going down to the tennis club, I don't. Or going to the corner store, whatever. What is happening now is that they are taking an extra lane from all the streets and giving it to the bicycle. They are doubling the width of the bicycle lanes. They have also started a new program of having relief bicycle freeways going through parks and old, disused railway lines so that we have street bicycling and park bicycling, which gives more capacity. The city is putting up bridges all over the place - across the harbour, across the bigger streets so that bicycles can do shortcuts and whatever and it's growing and growing and growing. And of course we have also other new problems. All these cargo bikes, they pile up on the sidewalks in front of residential buildings, but then, of course, the wise city founders, they have invented the solution - that is a car which can take up one parking space and you can park four cargo bikes there. That means in one space you can have parking for 12 people instead of parking for one. Unfortunately, they are not so smart yet, but they can become more elegant as times go by. Danish architect, Jan Gehl, for Melbourne Conversations. To see that talk in full, head to our website at the address on your screen. Next, time to bypass the awkwardness of polite dinner-table conversation and get straight down to the business of sex. Armed with one-liners about their various one-nighters, Brisbane's Festival of Ideas selected two eclectic teams of sex and gender adventurers against each other. Amongst the topics in the mix was has the internet adjusted our template for normal? Is the gay marriage debate just the next step in a mainstreaming of difference that started generations ago? And if so, what should be next? (Applause) I think the Internet is wonderful. It's all there - everything you ever wanted to know about sex

and much, much more. When I started working as a sex therapist over 35 years ago there was just no information - people were desperate to learn more about sex.

I had this friend who was a gynecologist and he used to use the opportunity of examining women

to show them a little bit about their bodies, you know,

this is the clitoris, this is - And he would then sometimes bring the partners, the husbands in, to have a look as well, and he realised with one particular couple he had a big problem, because he showed her all the bits of her anatomy, the husband came in and had one look and fainted.

And he realised that he had a long way to go with that particular couple. I used to do regular sex education programs. And I had to smuggle in boxes of penises and pussies to show people, because no-one had the opportunity to look what anyone else looked like and a lot of people were really concerned

about the fact that they weren't normal, that they looked more peculiar than anyone else. And now it's all there, this glorious smorgasbord of bodies, of people doing things to each other.

And it's really, I think, had a fantastic effect

in helping people understand that we're all normal, that there is this enormous variety.

Not just in the way we look, but also in our sexual needs and interests. I mean, that hasn't changed - those interests and that variety of sexual preferences and sexual quirks, if you like, has always been there, but it used to really be kept hidden. When I started working as an editor of Forum Magazine, a sex education magazine, I had all these very grumpy English immigrants complaining that there weren't nearly enough rubber Mackintoshes in Australia, not only no Mackintoshes, but raincoats of any sort.

And I was just stunned at how much variation there was out there in people's sexual interest, and how much pain and embarrassment it caused people. I was once sitting there and I got a phone call from a woman who was in a spinal unit at North Shore Hospital, and she said she had a room full of men who were wondering whether they'd ever get an erection again, and no-one would ever talk to them. And, you know, this is what's changed.

In any area of your life - if you have a person with a disability, you can Google your problem

and you can find all the information you ever wanted. And it's the most extraordinary situation. It's really helping people understand more about their differences. I've spent the last year or so with 150 men writing for me about their sexuality, about their sexual preferences. And it's just extraordinary that this group of men, the enormous variety of sexual interests they had. I think I had four men who loved dressing up in their wives' knickers.

One of them would wear his wife's size-14 cotton tails under his bowls shorts. So it was a most extraordinary thing just to see the variety that's out there. One man wore nappies for sexual relief. (Laughter) I mean, quite an extraordinary thing... much variation there is there. And what's intriguing is men are 20 times more likely than women to have some unusual sexual preference, and I think that's what makes it so hard for women to understand what's going on here

and why they get so threatened by the fact that men are looking at porn. Let's face it, I know there are women who enjoy looking at porn, and enjoy the variety of sexual information on the internet but it's much more likely to appeal to men, and that's because men have a much stronger interest, much more curiosity about sex, I think, generally,

and much more interested in the visual elements of sex. They like the more explicit material much more than women do. I mean, women enjoy erotica, women enjoy all sorts of different aspects of sexuality. Reading about sexuality, for instance. But that very visual material is much more likely to appeal to men. I'm sure you know the famous South American writer, Isabel Allende,

she talks about the erotica that appeals to women, and pornography, and says erotica is like using a feather, pornography the whole chicken. (Laughter) And I spend a lot of time

getting my men to write about the whole chicken - what is it about pornography that appeals to them? And why do they enjoy that very visual material? And a lot of it's to do with the fact that men have 20 times the level of testosterone that women do. And that's why - many of them are using pornography to keep a lid on their sexual desires in a way that doesn't sort of rock the boat, it enables them to live in their relationships and to cope with those strong drives. I'm sure you're gonna hear that - there's a lot of people out there talking about the fact that pornography - people say that pornography

is turning men off real life sex. Well, unfortunately the sad truth is that a lot of men, a lot of married men, a lot of men in relationships, simply aren't getting any real life sex. That's one of the big issues that's emerged from my research in recent years - I had 98 couples keeping diaries for me a few years ago - talking about how they negotiate sex in a relationship, how they negotiate their sex supply. And the thing that really came through there is the problem of sex-starved men, men in long-term relationships groveling for sexual favours. Spending their lives looking for the green light that never comes. Or having sex doled out to them like meaty bites to a dog, as one man said. And as a perfect example of that I had a woman who said to me that she's announced to her book club that she'd said to her husband, 'You can have 50 thrusts, but don't jiggle my book.' (Scattered laughter) So, there's a very real problem out there in terms of mismatched desire,

in terms of men in long-term relationships retaining their sex lives while many women lose interest. We had a big survey in Australia a few years ago where 55% of women said they had low desire. When I got couples to write about this I got the most extraordinary stories. One man said to me he got so sick of initiating sex that he finally said to his wife, 'OK, that's it, next time we have sex, you're going to initiate.' That was eight years ago and they haven't had sex since. I noticed the other day, Steve Martin was talking about this issues,

and he said, 'You know that look women get in their eyes when they want sex... neither.' So it's no wonder the internet really appeals to men, because the internet is full of willing women, women who love sex. This is very different from the reality, the sad reality of many men's lives. We live in this extraordinary period of history - we've come from a stage only 30, 40 years ago where women were expected to lie back and think of England. They were expected to put up with sex, to provide sex for their husbands whether they wanted it or not, and now we've had this enormous shift where women feel absolutely entitled to shut up shop if they're not interested. I had one man who went for 20 years in a marriage with no sex. And sex simply doesn't happen unless women feel like it. There's a really interesting story about Neil Armstrong, who I'm sure you'll know was the first man to walk on the moon. And what you may not know is when he got back in the lunar module he made a funny little comment. He said, 'Good luck, Mr Gorsky,' and all the reporters kept asking about this - 'Who's this Gorsky person?' He wouldn't answer. And then about 20 years later, he finally said that he could talk about this. And he explained that when he was growing up in the country in the mid-west of America the Gorskys were his next door neighbours. And he was playing baseball with his mates one day, and the ball went over the fence, and he went to pick it up. And he was outside the Gorsky bedroom window and he heard Mrs Gorsky yell at Mr Gorsky, 'Sex? You want sex? You'll get sex when the kid next door walks on the moon!' (Laughter) The sad truth is the world is now full of Mrs Gorskys. And thank goodness men now have the internet to keep them company. Thank you. Panellists from the Future Sex event at Brisbane's Festival of Ideas. Next, the wisdom of crowdsourcing. It's a term that's become a buzzword of the internet and business. It describes the act of outsourcing jobs, projects or problems to an undefined large group of people, or a crowd, through an open call, the way things like Wikipedia work.

Serial entrepreneur and UK design director Tom Hulme has spent most of his working life flogging business plans and products for retail, financial services, technology and even fashion brands, which doesn't exactly sound like the stuff of changing the world.

But after a stint teaching in a Tanzanian high school, Hulme has redirected his energies to establishing a global tool for problem solving and he's on a mission to spruik it far and wide. Let's dive first into crowdsourcing and what it is. Now, I've got to confess, even though this talk's title was crowdsourcing, I hate the term. So, it was - it kind of rose to prominence in 2006. A guy called Jeff Howe wrote an article for Wired Magazine and it's kind of been adopted by everybody. It's an all encompassing bucket of ideas. Generally it's starting to be felt to be slightly negative, because it feels really transactional. It feels like you're just taking from people and giving nothing back. And so to me and hopefully through the course of this talk you'll see that actually I think it's just the first incarnation of something far, far more exciting that's going on. So, if we think about why crowdsourcing to date has the traction it does - it's nothing new. Well, since certainly the Industrial Revolution in say the 17th Century, we started building really efficient structures. We were building structures that are all about just command and control. They're about controlling what you produce. And by definition it's expensive to run them. So, it was only a matter of time before people realised that it might make sense to take stuff from outside that sort of pyramidal hierarchy. And there's examples of this that range all the way back. I mean, one I'm inspired by is the Longitude Prize. So, in 1714 the British Government's struggling to keep hold of their ships, they kept running into islands, probably including some close to here. They thought we need to know better where we are and that was exceptionally valuable to them. So they ran a crowdsourcing competition. They ran a competition to award 20,000 pounds at the time, which is huge amounts of money, as you can imagine, for the person that actually enabled them to pinpoint the longditude of their ship within 20 nautical miles. And this guy, who - commemorative plaque you can see here John Harrison, he won that prize. And the thing they did that was smart is they actually incentivised people just to make little baby steps of progress. So, crowdsourcing is not new. It may suddenly be fashionable, we may all be hearing about it,

talking about it, hating it, loving it. It's not new. It's been around for ages. And you've got some good examples of it in Australia,

so one I find really inspiring is 99designs. It's an Australian company. They've moved the head office, now, I think, to the west coast on the States. But they've completed around 45,000 projects usually around brand, usually around communication design. But they're paying on average, designers, over $600,000 a month in prize money. So, it's effective, it has traction. And I think it will continue to have traction, because actually it's obvious the gap it fills. It enables you to grow your workforce with aligned incentives. You reward people when it works. So this stuff is pretty obvious to us. Like the idea that prizes enable you to gather new intellectual property. And actually, if you believe some advocates and proponents of it, you'd think that these types of prize based systems are absolutely the answer. Put simply, they work because you get a collection of people, they contribute ideas, someone moderates it in closed way so the intellectual property stays safe, so you can use it,

and then it gets ranked and the prizes are awarded. So this is like the most obvious interpretation of crowdsourcing and it's been pretty successful.

You know, the closest to the longditude prize that we've had in recent history is the Netflix Prize. In 2006 Netflix announced that if they could find people that would improve their algorithm for actually recommending which video you'd like by just 10% they'd give you $1 million. And actually it was won with 20 minutes to spare in 2009. And it had been won by combining heaps of people's different ideas together. Even things around your emotion and how your memory works on different days. So, this stuff will continue. So, I could stop this talk here and say, 'Great, prizes are the answer. We can all stop worrying about alternatives. Let's just run heaps of prizes.' But I think that's kind of the early version. It's 1.0 of crowdsourcing. There's much more interesting stuff coming. So to highlight that point, I'd love to show you a video - well, it's actually an advert - from 1997, for Microsoft Encarta. So, I think you should remember it - it was certainly for sale as a CD here. New collages and over 5,000 links embedded to websites. When you're hungry for information, who're you gonna call?

Microsoft Encarta '97 Encyclopedia Deluxe. Hold the fries. OK, hold the fries. OK, so this guy thought he had the solution, he's looking pretty smug about it. Microsoft thought they had the solution. They bought materials, intellectual property, from encyclopedias. They were convinced they had it sussed. They were convinced that no-one else would offer a better encyclopedia out there. But we all know that something different came on the scene and actually something else came on the scene that contributed to them closing Encarta in 2009. And that was Wikipedia. So, last year Wikipedia had its ten billionth edit. Ten billion edits by people that basically were not remunerated in this traditional approach. There's no prize-based system in Wikipedia. This is the stuff that gets me really excited. It's open systems, it's network collaboration, rather than traditional prize-based closed systems. And they look distinctly different to the prize based systems. There's clever design in there. There's a huge community you can tap into. People move in and out of the community. We'll talk about the incentives to participate a little later. But you can see it's completely different.

The systems basically have to run where ideas run. They sort of revolve around this system. They're thrown out by people if they don't like them. It's a self-moderated system. It feels and looks completely different to the hierarchy we saw before. It no longer is that sort of triangle, the pyramidal structure. It's more like a network. And networks are interesting.

When you're designing systems, networks are more interesting than pyramids, because they enable kind of Darwinistic emergent stuff to grow. They enable nodes to fall away, nodes to re-grow. And that stuff is completely different, it's a different approach. Less Newtonian, sort of, dictatorial efficiency, and more adaptability emerges, Darwinistic thinking. So, that kind of leads you to the question - is Wikipedia just a complete freak? 150,000 English speaking editors - is it just a one-off or is this an unstoppable trend? And probably the best way to answer that question, one of the places we turn to when thinking about it -

you know, the gentleman who created the most famous triangular framework in human history on humanistic psychology, Abraham Maslow.

He created the hierarchy of needs, which whether we like it or not, we all sort of ascribe to. This is the stuff that gets us going and there's been awful examples

where we've had to focus on the bottom of the pyramid again, around safety and physiological security, but actually, the fact that we're all sat in this room is testament to the fact that you guys are shooting up the pyramid, you're on your way up. And if you look at those needs - what keeps us all happy - sense of belonging, sense of esteem, self-actualisation. The question is - are we finding new ways to actually meet those. Now, if we were sat in this room 30 years ago,

we probably would have said the way to get your sense of esteem, your sense of belonging was the American dream. So like - 2.4 kids, 2.4 homes, 2.4 cars, whatever - it's materialism, but it's radically changed recently. The Global Financial Crisis,

which you guys, I leant this week, call GFC, which took me ages to figure out what you were talking about, but I now understand and it's a big issue. So that's changed, I think, the way that we actually seek belonging and esteem and self-actualisation. You guys have had experiences towards the tail end of this year that - incredibly difficult for, certainly me, to understand how complex and painful the process was, but if I sort of look at the web-based communities that are growing around topics like this, you can see it's triggered changes. So the question is - how's all of this stuff changing what Maslow knew that we all wanted to achieve? And I think it's changing all three. So - belonging is a kind of an interesting one, or esteem. There's examples all around Australian society at the moment that show us that you guys are changing an interpretation of belonging and esteem. This is a start-up actually. It started in Bondi - sorry, it started over down in Sydney. It's got 40 car brands now. And basically you can rent out your own car to people for the day, so it's more about access than ownership. That's a big change in that pyramid. You no longer need to own everything. Another interpretation of that that I think's doing incredibly, is the garage sale, again this started in Bondi in Sydney. There's 1,613 sales up there, where people are literally just selling stuff they don't really need. In London we've got this explosion of storage companies. They're everywhere. I mean, what a wonderful way of showing people they've got more than they need. That materialism is kind of shifty. So it's more about access. We understand that. And we're finding new ways to signal belonging. This is an interesting way of signaling belonging. As of last week, 20 million people had favourited Barack Obama's Facebook page. That's 3% of the users of Facebook. It's unbelievable. People are using it as a way of showing what they belong to. It's kind of an emerging tribalism. It's a different way of showing. So you guys - you can see this 100,000 people have liked Julia Gillard's page.

I don't know what that means. That's 1%, by the way, of Australia's 10 million Facebook users, rather than 3% of the world's, which is interesting in itself. That's probably an important statistic if you're a politician. I'd think pretty hard about what that means. That being said, there are causes that are motivating huge numbers of Australians, so if 2% of Australia's 22 million people have actually participated in GetUp, which you guys know more about than me, but it seems a wonderful campaign for actually churning into action. It's a way of demonstrating new esteem, new belonging and potentially self-actualisation. So, I was trying to think through a way of showing how this desire to learn or participate is changing and Google trends, for you guys, is a really fun tool to do it. So, every time you put a search thread into Google, you make Google smarter. You make it cleverer. You're doing all the work for them. They just need to run the numbers and predict. And if you do Google trends on two searches in Australia - So, this is just searching in Australia. I thought, the internet, people often search for discounts and people also search for how to do stuff. And if you look at that change I think it symbolised this inflection we're seeing of how people are finding new ways to self-actualise. So, this blue flatline you see is people searching for discounts it's practically unchanged. Look at the green line, which is people searching for how to do stuff on the internet. It's hugely changing. This is us finding new ways to actually meet Maslow's needs. An example, which expires - inspires me - not expires me, that would be hideous - inspires me is a lady called Lauren Luke. She's a 27-year-old single mum, up north in the UK. She was passionate about makeup. She started putting how-to videos online. To date, she's had 108 million views. 108 million views - she's actually in partnership with her own makeup line. She's self-actualising - it became incredibly valuable. I love this.

What you can't see here is within a day of the wedding - 'Kate Middleton royal wedding day makeup look' assuming that's Kate's makeup she's showing, but the number of views speaks for itself, 20,000 within 40 hours. She's so fast to react and people love her, because she's honest. UK design entrepreneur, Tom Hume on the wisdom of crowdsourcing. Finally today, has comedy disappeared from the novel? Howard Jacobson calls himself a Jewish Jane Austen, as opposed to his critics description, as the English Phillip Roth. Suffice to say, he's a funny guy. He's also the winner of the 2010 Man Booker Prize with his comic novel, The Finkler Question. At the Sydney Writers Festival session, called Return of the Wry, Jacobson tells media lecturer, Fiona Giles, why more than ever, there's a big need for funny. The whole point about laughter, as I understand it, in literature and in the novel, is not that you laugh at something which is light or laughable, but that you laugh at the very things that aren't laughable. I've been complaining recently that Woody Allen isn't funny anymore. And I've been complaining that Phillip Roth, who is in the news at the moment, isn't funny anymore. And people reasonably say, 'well look, they say they don't find life funny anymore. Why should they be funny if they don't find life funny?'

I'm perfectly sympathetic to that, but it nonetheless it disappoints me, because I think one's funny if one's a good writer,

one's not funny because life is funny, one's funny because life isn't. It's precisely because life is not funny that one needs to be funny. It's precisely because life ends in death, it's precisely because there is nothing waiting for us after this, that we are funny. You can't be a believer in the afterlife and also be funny. It's not possible. That leads right on to something I wanted to explore with you... Are we finished with death? Yes, that's it, thank you. Can I just say one more thing about that. Baudelaire wrote an essay on comedy that's very, very interesting, in which he imagines when comedy was born. And he imagines comedy being born in the Garden of Eden. Comedy is what happens when God realises that human beings are not going to be perfect and he kicks them out. That's the moment - the Bible says that's the moment of sorrow and suffering and Rabelais says that for the artist - not Rabelais, who did I just... Baudelaire. Baudelaire, thank you. Baudelaire said for the artist, that's the moment when comedy is born, because it's born of imperfection. Had Adam and Eve got on perfectly well, had they lived forever in the garden and there'd been no snake, where's the joke? What would we have laughed about? So, it's in the acknowledgement of our imperfection and our mortality, because it's in the Garden of Eden that mortality happens. God's plan was that they would live forever. Doing what? Gardening? So, comedy comes out of imperfection. But that imperfection is also our life. It wouldn't have been life to live in the Garden of Eden forever, loving each other and doing nothing else but staring at plants, the names of which they couldn't have known,

because they weren't allowed to eat from the Tree of Knowledge. It's an intolerable life, so everything that we love about life, is bound up with the fact of the shortness of life and death. And that's where comedy finds its domain. Thank you. (Applause) If Frank were here, I was going to ask about the Sydney Push, which was of course the life of Sydney intellectual discussion in the 60's, when you were also here. But also about the high seriousness about a lot of those political groups which are campaigning for change, and Frank's career has really been built on that, in many ways. His pillorying of that high seriousness among left wing radicals in particular. And that's odd to me, since it seems as you were saying, that comedy is a radical form, it's transgressive. It's not a conservative force, but at the same time it's difficult to explain how comedy does achieve change, is it persuasive or is it just allowing us

to take heart, to laugh together as a community in opposition to the status quo? How does it work? Well, I don't think it achieves change in the way that politicians hope to, or ideologies hope to achieve change. And you're quite right, comedy in the main laughs at ideology. It's conservative in a sense - think of a novelist like Kingsley Amis.

Kingsley Amis was essentially a conservative person who made fun of anything progressive. He also made fun of fuddy-duddyism, but his main laughter was at the expense of anything new and progressive. Because the new and progressive, is always preposterous. I've always found that as a writer, whatever is new and progressive and that people wear badges about, and that people walk the streets for,

I find preposterous. I apologise if you are all marchers, but I see a march, I see a march, and I see the preposterous. I see people marching for peace, and I see this violent thing coming towards me. I'm shopping quietly in Piccadilly trying to by myself some English Tea

and some expensive biscuits and there's a march, there's a march coming towards me and then there's these people carrying banners for peace and they're violent.

They're chanting, they're marching like soldiers. I see a contradiction here as a comic novelist. I want to go home immediately, and write a scene parodying people who believe in things. Now this might be difficult for you, but if you are a comic novelist, you can't believe in things. So you obviously, on some level you do need people who believe in change, who care about the environment and gender and all that, but you also have to have in a healthy, vigourous society, people who find all that absolutely preposterous and absurd. So, no novelist is ever an ideologist - show me a novelist who, as a novelist, believes in anything and I'll show you a failed novelist. A novelist does not have a view, a novelist does not believe in anything, there's no such thing as a great political novel - we could argue about that but in my view there is no such thing as a great political novel, so how does it achieve change? By making you realise that nothing is stable, nothing remains true, everything is up for question, 'cause if you don't believe anything but you don't believe anything with vitality and robustness,

so you're not just a dead nihilist, you are a living, robust, vigourous nihilist - in which case you aren't a nihilist -

you're doing something more radical, in the end, than anything else because it doesn't matter what you're choice of political view is, it's always a particular political view which cuts out others. Whereas the disbelieving, mistrustful ever-sardonic novelist has everything - everything is up for grabs. Absolutely everything. Hmm, so it's more about ongoing inquiry,

a curiosity about how to make things better rather than an ideology - That sounds too cool. Curiosity. It's a battle, it's a battle with everything that's stable and everything that's sure and everything that's certain. What is our greatest enemy? Certainty. I have a fight back home in England with the atheists. Some of them are my best friends. There's a man here at the festival, AC Grayling, who is the most brilliant man you will ever meet. But we argue over atheism.

I am not an atheist, but I am not a believer. I don't believe in God, but I don't like the certainties

of people who don't believe in God. So, you have to disbelieve in God knowing that not believing in God mustn't become and 'ism'. So, you must believe in God, that means you must sort of believe in God somewhere. So, you believe in God somewhere while not believing in God. Uhuh. Thank you. (Laughter) You're following this? I wondered if you felt part of the problem with comedy in the past few decades, which you seem to think has gone into decline quite seriously - but I wonder if, perhaps, it's shifted media across to television and that in someways TV has been doing this better than literature or comic novels or fiction. And I'm thinking of the formal innovations of TV shows such as The Office, the mockumentary style of Kath and Kim we had here in Australia, more recently Summer Heights High - But also animations such as The Simpsons, Family Guy, South Park - and I wonder if you think that's where comedy is at now for us. Well, I think that's where comedy is at now,

and I like some of those things and I think Family Guy's the only thing I watch on English TV,

there's absolutely noting else to watch on English TV except this American cartoon called Family Guy

with a aristocratic baby and a talking dog and I can't believe I watch this but I do because it's witty and it doesn't believe in anything. The problem with public comedy like that is that you feel that its - I don't know if you ever go to comedy clubs, but you know when you go to a comedy club and a comedian has his audience and he starts to make a joke and you suddenly think he actually doesn't have to say anything funny now to start finding him funny. for the audience just his cadence, and he'll go on - And they find funny the cadence, or anything like that? Do you have 'I've Got News For You' I don't think so.

audience by cadence and by cadence Comedians who just can win the fashionable and it then becomes highly comedy that I mistrust - and there's something about group at the same thing. about a group of people all laughing what it's not meant to do. Because suddenly comedy is then doing actually want it to divide. Suddenly comedy is uniting when you in the theatre. I get very uncomfortable audience is laughing If I'm in a play and the whole I can laugh with 1,000 other people, but I don't know what to do,

in the middle of their laugher. I can't start crying 'Stop laughing.' I would like to stand up and say against more than anything else - It's the thing we have to guard or that person's amused. not because that person's amused we laugh because we're amused and if we laugh, we read this thing and in quiet of our own house On our own, we go home on our own, I value the novel so much. And this is why I'm frightened of all that. humanity and their individuality. Where people want to lose their you like to be a plank tonight?' 'I'm being a plank tonight, would to each other saying where people send a message that social networking I'm frightened of all I'm frightened of the internet, us being individual. I'm frightened of anything that stops you are an individual. is that you are back to being - And the wonderful thing about reading it actually can't be funny.' If you all think it's funny, 'Just stop laughing.

a terrible time to make sure some people had at the end of this session So, we should have a poll it's wrong. if three people agree on something, Unanimity of everything - uniformity, unanimity.

and didn't laugh. We could do that. Well, we could do that. aren't having a good time out here, I hope some there are some people just to prove my point. Or maybe make sure - something about political belief, Already I might have said and laugh at that I could name some political beliefs That would work. and that would... Jewishness of The Finkler Question. Or we could start talking about the That gets people upset. Let's do that, OK. No, I wasn't that I think we should. Exactly. No, that's my next question. I've got something right here. Shall we do that now? Well, you could. about you saying that, I wanted to ask you in the world' 'laughter is a pledge of at-homeness what you've been saying just now. which seems to contradict a little (Laughter) I hope it does, yes. And I was interested in that, given the vexed history of the Jewish people in relation to the idea of home. But also I think that, without making generalisations too...crudely, that there's also a sense of at-homeness in the body which I think WASPish people love in your book lacks that perhaps Jewish people do have. Jewish people have that at-homeness in the body? Yes. Have I said that? No, no, you didn't say that, I said that.

'Cause I've always thought that the thing I've loved about being Jewish - I never really thought about being Jewish till quite late in my life, the fact that I sometimes write about Jewishness is a mystery to me and a great mystery to my family who wondered where this interest came from. You know, they made me Jewish in a very kind of, 'you're Jewish, now get on with your life.' And suddenly I start fussing around about Jewish. But the one thing I did like about when I was conscious of being Jewish was that I was not at home in my body. I would go to school, and I went to a which had once been a Church of England school, in fact, but there were 25% Jewish kids there. And we had a cross, we had to wear a cross on our blazers. And some of the Orthodox Jewish boys

didn't like wearing a cross on their blazers, but I never cared. A cross on my blazer, fine - celebration of a Jewish - Christianity was a Jewish religion, anyways, so celebrating it that way -

And it was always a big problem when it came to - we call it 'gym'. Do you call it PE? What do you call it? Because this sounds like stereotyping Jewish boys, but there's no way out of stereotyping sometimes, we didn't like doing gym, we couldn't do gym. Various things we couldn't do. We used to have ropes and we couldn't climb up ropes. The gym teacher made the mistake early of saying 'Do what monkeys do.' A Jew can't do what a monkey does. It's in the bible, it actually says

'You don't do anything that a monkey does, it is an abomination to do anything like a monkey does.' Then the other thing we had to do was hang upside-down from wall bars. Jews don't hang upside-down. You will never have met a Jew who's allowed his head to be the lowest part of his body.

Jews value brains, Jews have had to value brain because they've had nothing else to value of thousands of years, they've had to rely upon their brain because of all sorts of reasons of theirs. So, they've had to rely on their intellect, they can't put it at the bottom of their body.

Author Howard Jacobson celebrating the return of the wry with Fiona Giles. That's all for today's taste-test of Big Ideas Shortcuts.

Remember, you can find all of the talks you've seen on the show today and much more besides at the Big Ideas website at the address on your screen. And look out for our lunchtime weekend shows on News 24, Saturday and Sunday at 1pm. I'm Waleed Aly, I'll see you then. (Closed Captions by CSI)

This Program is Captioned

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