The Pecan Principle: a moment of awe is worth a lifetime of nuts

Thoughts on opening one's mind to awe, from the inventor of the Float Table, Jessica Banks.

Jessica Banks, founder of Rock Paper Robots, at Technical.ly Brooklyn's Diversity in Tech event. (Photo by Brady Dale, file)

Jessica Banks speaks at TEDxTimesSquare about awe. Banks is the founder of Rock Paper Robot. The trained roboticist at MIT is now making innovative furniture from the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

The topic of her talk is awe itself, and her “Pecan Principle” is a little hard to pin down. Banks says our assumptions guide us toward the mundane, but, she argues, you can’t discount the possibility of seeing something awesome in each moment.

Banks tells a story of an expiration date she saw on a bag of nuts that seemed to say that the nuts would be good for a thousand years. She carried that idea all day — till she worked out that she had just misread it.

Some quotes:

  • “Imagine, if your first impression was awe … if you lowered your bar for cognitive closure.”
  • “I have learned that the world will not kick me out if I don’t understand what I perceive. On the contrary, it will absorb me, it will connect me, if I can actually consider my perceptions to be misunderstandings from the beginning.”
  • “Everything that I design is based in a physics principle, or dynamic principle … my target market, your limbic system.”
  • “So, true, I make furniture, but I’m trying to fabricate awe.”

Banks spoke on a panel at our Diversity in Tech event at Bldg92.

See the full TEDx video here:

Series: Brooklyn

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