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Jenny Odell: Resisting the Attention Economy

May 24 @ 3:30 am - 4:45 am

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In a world where our value is often determined by our productivity and busyness, doing nothing may be our most important form of resistance.

Pre-sale access commences at 8am, Friday 17 March.

“There is nothing to be admired about being constantly connected, constantly potentially productive the second you open your eyes in the morning, and in my opinion, no one should accept this, not now, not ever.” – Jenny Odell

Jenny Odell | Emma A. Jane | Toby Walsh

Can we reclaim our attention from a world preoccupied by our data productivity?

In her book, How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy, Jenny Odell argues that reconnecting with our body and physical environment may be our most important form of resistance from society’s preoccupation with productivity, and the invasion of the internet and social media on our time.

Following a solo talk by Jenny Odell, AI expert Toby Walsh and ethical tech design researcher Emma A. Jane will join Odell for a discussion on what we can do to resist the profit-driven tech landscape.

This event is presented by the UNSW Centre for Ideas and Sydney Writers’ Festival.

Live Event & Venue Information

The Science Theatre is located at UNSW Sydney’s Kensington Campus. Please note this is a live event only, and will not be available via livestream.

To ensure the health and safety of all patrons, face masks are recommended and please do not attend the event if you feel unwell.


Wheelchair Access

The Science Theatre is located at UNSW Sydney’s Kensington campus (highlighted red on this map). The closest accessible drop-off point to the Science Theatre is towards the rear of the building, with access via Gate 2, High Street. Vehicles can drop off patrons directly adjacent to the Business School west wing which is then an approximate 200 metre walk.

Assisted Listening

Assisted listening devices can be provided. Please book an assisted listening ticket to access this service.

Auslan & Captioning

Auslan interpreting services and/or live captioning can be provided for selected talks upon request.

To discuss access requirements and book selected services, please call the Centre for Ideas 02 9065 0485 or email [email protected]

Parking & Public Transport

Free parking is available in the Barker St Carpark (Gate 14) from 5.30pm. For access to free parking, event patrons must park in the UNSW Permit Holder bays, available on all levels. The Barker St Carpark (Gate 14) parking station is located here.

The Science Theatre is easily accessible via public transport. For more information, call the Transport infoline on 131 500 or visit transportnsw.info.


For all enquiries, please email [email protected] or call the Centre for Ideas on 02 9065 0485.

The Centre for Ideas is happy to receive phone calls via the National Relay Service. TTY users, phone 133 677, then ask for 02 9065 0485. Speak and Listen users, phone 1300 555 727 then ask for 02 9065 0485. Internet relay users, visit relayservice.gov.au, then ask for 02 9065 0485.


Jenny Odell

Jenny Odell is the author of How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy and Saving Time: Discovering a Life Beyond the Clock. She is also an interdisciplinary artist and has been in residence at the San Francisco Planning Department, Recology SF (otherwise known as the dump), and the Internet Archive. Odell also taught digital art at Stanford University from 2013 to 2021. An enthusiast of birding, geology, and local history, she is based in Oakland, California.

Emma A. Jane

Emma A. Jane is an Associate Professor in the School of the Arts & Media at UNSW Sydney. Her research focuses on the social and ethical implications of emerging technologies. Her current projects include building open-source AI prototypes for educators and researchers, writing a book about the metaverse, and investigating whether ethical tech design might help make the internet less of a flaming dumpster fire. For the past two years, Stanford University has ranked her in the top two percent of researchers globally across all fields based on citations of her work. Before joining academia, Emma spent 25 years working in the print, broadcast, and electronic media, winning multiple awards for her writing and investigative reporting. Her memoir Diagnosis Normal was released in March 2022.

Toby Walsh

Toby Walsh is Chief Scientist of UNSW.AI, UNSW Sydney’s new AI Institute. He is a strong advocate for limits to ensure AI is used to improve our lives, having spoken at the UN, and to heads of state, parliamentary bodies, company boards and many others on this topic. This advocacy has led to him being ‘banned indefinitely’ from Russia. He is a Fellow of the Australia Academy of Science, and was named on the international ‘Who’s Who in AI’ list of influencers. He has written three books on AI for a general audience, the most recent being Machines Behaving Badly: The Morality of AI.

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UNSW Centre for Ideas
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Science Theatre
(F13) UNSW Sydney, Kensington, NSW 2052
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