I tend to avoid the graduation speeches that seem to go viral on YouTube this time of year. It's not a genre I find particularly compelling. A lot of platitudes. A lot of punchlines. That's not to say there haven't been great ones -- Steve Jobs' 2005 speech at Stanford, for example, is a must-see.

So is Neil Gaiman's from the University of the Arts, delivered just last week. (Embedded below.)

I've written some thoughts over on Inside Higher Ed on how YouTube might shape the way in which we approach -- or ignore -- these speeches. If nothing else, these speeches seem to live longer now, with more virality than when they did when it was just up to us to remember that so-and-so local dignitary or such-and-such international celebrity spoke at our own graduations.

I was also struck this weekend, in listening to Adam Savage's talk at Maker Faire, about the kinds of inspirational speeches that we don't simply deliver to graduates and how good it can be to hear this wisdom and encouragement (and yes platitudes and punchlines) even when you're not graduating, even when you're not a graduate.

Go forth and make things. That was the message of Adam Savage. It was the message of Neil Gaiman. It's the message that all of us need to hear, whether we're sitting in a cap and gown or not.

Audrey Watters


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