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Jenny Odell: Resisting the Attention Economy

24 May 2023
6.30pm – 7.45pm AEST
Science Theatre, UNSW Sydney
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Jenny Odell

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 | Toby Walsh | Cam Wilson | Ariel Bogle

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, reporter Cam Wilson, and technology journalist Ariel Bogle will join Odell for a discussion on what we can do to resist the profit-driven tech landscape.

Emma A. Jane will no longer appear in this event due to health reasons.

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


UNSW Sydney is the exclusive university sponsor and proud Premier Partner of the Sydney Writers’ Festival. Featuring UNSW academics and researchers on Sydney Writers’ Festival stages, and events at the UNSW Kensington Campus, this partnership brings together a shared vision of creativity, curiosity and thought leadership. 


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. 

Hearing Loop
The Science Theatre has hearing assistive technology available. Patrons wishing to utilise this service must collect a Roger™ inductive neck loop receiver from the venue staff, and this system can be used with a hearing aid or cochlear implant with a T-coil, or with headphones.

This event will be live captioned. 

Auslan interpreting services can be provided for selected talks upon request. 

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


Free parking is available in the Barker St Car Park (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 Car Park (Gate 14) parking station is located here.

Paid casual and visitor parking is offered via the CellOPark App and ‘pay by plate meters’ in all other UNSW car parks. For more information head here

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



For all other enquiries, please call the Centre for Ideas on 02 9065 0485 or email

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, then ask for 02 9065 0485. 

Jenny Odell

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. 

Toby Walsh

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 four books on AI for a general audience, the most recent is Faking It! Artificial Intelligence in a Human World.

Cam Wilson

Cam Wilson

Cam Wilson is a tech reporter whose work covers the intersection between internet culture, online extremism and politics. He’s currently an Associate Editor at Crikey, and previously worked at the ABC, BuzzFeed News, Business Insider and Gizmodo.

Ariel Bogle

Ariel Bogle (Host)

Ariel Bogle is a technology reporter with the ABC. She has won various awards for her work, including for a three-part radio series on health misinformation. Her reporting has been published in The New York Times, The Guardian, The Atlantic and The Australian Financial Review, among other places.