IdeaFestival

One minute video explanation of "dark energy"

A one minute video explaining the concept behind the Nobel-winning physics discovery that the universe is rushing away from us at an accelerating pace? Take it away Sean Carroll.

Sean is a CalTech theoretical physicist. He appeared at the 2010 IdeaFestival, and recorded this video on the arrow of time that you may enjoy.

Wayne

Wikipedia: dark energy

The Neighborhood: Discarded, Tattoos, A New Start

Art is not about communication. It's about communion. - Raphael Lozano-Hemmer, IdeaFestival 2013

In this IdeaFestival story, Transylvania University professors and artists Kremena Todorova and Kurt Gohde talk about their work on "Discarded," say the Lexington Tattoo Project is a "love letter to the city," and share a quick story from their lives about what inspires them to make public art.

While not quite as dramatic as the encounter they describe in the first half of the video - really, just listen! - I've always been amazed at the fortuitous meetings and interesting ideas that people describe as having occurred at the IdeaFestival. Anne Shadle, for example, got rid of cable. One long time fan and supporter, Jan Winter, started a thriving non-profit focused on child health that reaches every elementary school student in the commonwealth.

In the workaday world where it's all too easy to fall into ruts and routines, and the media, sadly, affirms rather than informs, the IdeaFestival succeeds by going a different way. It emphasizes the new connections. It gently challenges. And as Kremena says near the end of the video, the first step toward any new idea or person takes an act of will. The goal of the IdeaFestival in particular and worthwhile art in general is to expand our sympathetic imagination. It's not to win any of us to a particular idea, but to ask, rather, if we can still be won.

Two-thirds of the way through the video, a loud crash, which Kurt and Kremena described as a telescope falling over, changed the space time continuum the lighting in the room they were in. I edited out the noise, but you may see what I mean when you watch.

I hope to see you at IdeaFestival 2014!

Wayne

Forgetting Important to Creative Flourishing

Though Europe's new "right to be forgotten" rules have created an uproar, it's easy to forget just how new the idea of total recall is. Writing at TechCrunch, Natasha Lomas contributes a couple of important points to a discussion largely moored to what is still a new phenomenon, a phenomenon that would see documentation and data live on in perpetuity.

I like how she connects the issue to creative enterprise:

Total recall shuts us down. It encourages conformity and a lack of risk taking. If trying to do something results in a failure that follows you around forever then the risk of trying is magnified — so maybe you don’t bother trying in the first place. It’s anti-creative, anti-experimental, even anti-entrepreneur. To cite a Steve Jobs-ism, it’s anti-foolish.

Name the human society where total recall is considered the norm. It’s far more human to forget. Forgetting allows for new beginnings. As a creative medium, a little forgetting goes a long way. While too much recall smacks of dystopia, or prison, or the dragnet digital surveillance programs set up in secret by our own governments. It’s hardly an accident that corporate power and state machinery are aligning along the same digital fault lines here.

An ability to forget, whether it's simply to move beyond a business failure or avoid information overload, is important to human flourishing, as Lomas writes. And the notion that total recall, rather than liberating us, would "shut us down" rings true to me. There are of course real public policy and legal questions being sorted out in Europe as Google tries to comply with the new continental rules. But the temptation to believe that the next piece of information or data point will make the argument or prove beyond any doubt the veracity of any particular belief is a particularly human weakness, and one that is exploited, for example, by social media. It's why long hours scanning Facebook updates leaves so many people so anxious. The picture is never complete. Even science, which many mistakenly believe seeks certainty, depends, rather, on an accumulation of evidence, not on finality.

The dogged entrepreneur and artist alike must be fools. They must believe in their specific cases that the past doesn't matter. True, depending on that past it may or may not prove beneficial in the long run. But in general, the habits that have always characterized humanity at its best - a grace under hardship or a willingness to extend mercy where none may be merited - have always required on a willingness to forget. It's effective precisely because it is extralegal.

The alternative, I think, would enslave us to reasons.

Wayne

Festival Passes are on sale now, but please don't wait too long! We're expecting to sell out again this year, and the price for a pass will go up on Sept. 2. The complete agenda and speaker line-up is available on the IdeaFestival web site.

Thank You!

Thank you for making IdeaFestival 2011 so wonderful! We couldn't do it without you, our fans and sponsors, who for four days make the IdeaFestival the most creative and inspiring place to be in the world.

Wayne

Image: Geoff Oliver Bugbee

Pic: Lindsey Stirling playing violin

In a surprise performance right before a talk on the multi-verse, Lindsey Stirling gave an amazing, florid, melodic, beautiful, and slamming violin performance.

Let's just say that any world that can produce this kind of music is a world in which I want to live.

Many of the pictures that you will see here can also be found in the IdeaFestival 2011 Flickr pool. Please! Join and contribute your images.

Wayne


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