Video: Baratunde on the difference, difference makes



Saying that what makes him curious was his early exposure to difference, Baratunde Thurston, digital editor of America's Finest News Source, answers the question put to many IdeaFestival 2011 participants and speakers in the IF Conversations series.

Over the next several months we'll roll out the conversations here, on the blog, as well as in the right sidebar of the web site.

If you've ever been to the IdeaFestival, you know we're big on difference, and for good reason. Difference in social networks has been said to be the key to successful entrepreneurs, according to Jonah Lehrer. Homogenized institutions, like thinking, eventually become stale. Before she became known as the Tiger Mother, Amy Chua argued at IdeaFestival 2008 that a tolerance for diversity had been the key to the success of history's hyper-powers, and offered many examples how some societies had became powerful and wealthy by offering the different and marginalized a way forward. There really isn't a mind to waste.

We believe that the key to innovation is diversity in ideas. Business can learn something from gaming, improvisation and stand-up comedy. Philosophy of mind now informs the development of artificial intelligence and vice versa. Take gravity out of the equation and human cells and genes behave differently. Why that happens in space may eventually lead to therapies for disease on Earth.

The IdeaFestival works very hard to include everyone who wants to participate, and seeks sponsors - thank you! - to make entry affordable. That's good. At this year's festival, some of the most interesting and penetrating questions came from the many high school students who were in attendance. They challenged IBM's Watson and grilled speakers throughout the four days. As someone who has lived a great many places and for the past 20 years has called Kentucky home, the fact that the nerdocalypse happens here thrills me.

There's comedy gold there Baratunde, gold.