TED 2018: Why You Should Make Useless Things

Simone Giertz's discusses inventions, failure, performance anxiety and more

In a charming and humorous talk from TED 2018, maker and robotics enthusiast Simone Giertz does more than share her wacky and “useless” inventions; she explores the ways in which failure and performance anxiety can be embraced and overcome. While showcasing her “shitty inventions” (such as a googly-eye shirt, toothbrush helmet and more) Giertz explains the importance of making “useless” things, and how the outcome is anything but useless. “The true beauty of making useless things is this acknowledgement that you don’t always know what the answer is… It turns off that voice in your head that tells you that you know exactly how the world works,” she says.

Admitting to an almost lifelong (and very common, valid) fear of failure and humiliation, she also explains how some of her inventions were thought up to counter her anxiety surrounding failure and public speaking. Her “human solar system” contraption was created to wear on stage, so that audiences wouldn’t see her trembling hands as she held a water glass. Demonstrating the wearable robot, Giertz shows not only how it’s meant to work, the improvements it needs, and how it fails. This alone reflects the entire vibe of her presentation: perhaps each of our solutions and inventions isn’t the solution, “but at least you’re asking the question.”

Image and video courtesy of TED