"New Connections?" It's about the Stories

Of course the IdeaFestival is about ideas that matter.

But the best part of the four days, for me, are the stories from the presenters, many of whom will share something intimate from their life about a key discovery, or describe why they find themselves at the nexus of a movement in the art world, or how they first realized that they would devote their lives to music or business or science. It's the essence of the festival's promise of new connections. Sure, you're likely to put two and two together in ways that will send a bit of electricity down your spine - it's happened to me more than once - but it's the personal story that will ignite the synaptic snap, crackle and pop.

To get a sense of what I'm talking about, watch prodigious savant, synesthete and best-selling author Daniel Tammet share his surprisingly relatable story of self-discovery from IdeaFestival 2010. He talked about going to the library and finding a book with his name on it, and described why, as a young boy with autism, that was so important. He delivered with perfect comic timing a one-liner about living in Lithuania. He shared his life-changing surprise that other people shared his peculiar love of numbers. His elfin poise gave testament that every mind mattered, and that one needn't shout to be heard. It was deeply and emotionally resonant for someone, like me, who has so often preferred books to people.

He made clear that he was still growing and discovering.

This year, I'm most looking forward to hearing from digital disruptor Baratunde Thurston and theoretical physicist Lisa Randall, whose respective insights into contemporary life and Planck scales touch on some strange physics. Both track - If I may - the transformation of scraps of information from the margins to meaning.

If you're thinking about coming to the IdeaFestival, there are a VERY limited number of tickets to individual events that are now available. The volume of all-access and day passes sold this year has been record breaking. So if want to see Baratunde or Lisa Randall, or any of the other incredible story tellers who will be at IdeaFestival 2012, now's the time to act

Word's getting around.