Archive for Communication

The WWW conference

As I prepare to attend this year's Wisdom 2.0 conference in San Francisco week after next, I find myself curious about the possibilities (I still find the name Wisdom 2.0 extremely evocative and I guess I harbor the secret hope of having my mind blown at the conference and discovering hundreds if not thousands of "lost" members of "my tribe").

One of the pioneers of extraordinary gatherings is Richard Saul Wurman, the founder of the TED conference, and apparently that was just the beginning of his ideas for super-human gatherings. His wwwConference in September 2012 paired particularly interesting duos, placed them on a comfortable couch in front of an exclusive audience (tickets were $16,000 – where's that Press Pass when I need it?) and set them loose with each other.

I have to say I'm impressed by Wurman's courage and his faith in the power of conversation. According to Dan Munro in Forbes, the results were truly inspired. I look forward to hearing these conversations myself and hope they will be made available, as one of the great innovations of TED was making those equally expensive presentations available free to the public.

Wurman's new ideas include Prophesy2025 in Spring of 2013, and the multi-generational Geeks and Geezers Summit in the Spring of 2014, which sounds particularly interesting.


Stephen-fryTo help motivate my morning walks I sometimes take my iPod and listen to one of the many podcasts I subscribe to but don't otherwise have time to hear. The other day I loaded up one of my favorites by the erudite British actor and thespian Stephen Fry.

Fry is always intelligent and insightful, and the topic he brought his formidable talents to in this case was one of his own favorite subjects, Oscar Wilde. In particular, he was talking about a promotional tour that Wilde had made to the United States in the late 1800s, just as his popularity was beginning to take off in the UK.

The US was in a particularly violent period at that point, having recently emerged from an extremely bloody civil war. We were engaged in a Western expansion charaterised by genocide and gunslingers and being plagued by eruptions of gang warfare in New York and Chicago. One of the many questions presented to the visiting Wilde, whose wit and ready answers were already becoming quite quotable, was why he thought American was so violent.

"That's easy", he reportedly quipped, "it's because the wallpaper here is so ugly".

Wilde's comment was generally considered to be a humorous and somewhat shallow response to the question, but Fry's deconstruction of it reveals something deeper. Fry's analysis has, I think, even more relevance as a response to the violence of today's world than it did in the 1900s.

As a philisophical Aesthetic, Fry explained, Wilde would have believed that beauty "acts" upon us, that the beauty of nature and art has a powerful positive effect on the human psyche. Thus, the opposite would also have been true – that a culture which had evolved with such a profound insensitivity to their environment (as to accept the hideous wallpaper referenced earlier, presumably 🙂 would obviously be effected negaively. That, surrounded by ugliness, one would be moved to ugly and violent acts.

I think Oscar Wilde had a pretty good point… but what do you think? Does beauty "act" upon you? And if so, how? What about ugliness?

Super Moon

Full-moon-risingWhere were you during the fabulous "super moon" display last month?

I was with my love-money Steve and pest-son Lee down by the bay photographing it, of course! (Lee is a logophile like his father and I – and his "other mother" Liz – and he chose this cheeky anagrammatical name for our relationship many years ago)

This first shot was taken after the moon was already high in the sky and it was beginning to get dark out, so there's greater contrast than in most of the earlier shots you can see in the gallery sequence below.


Lee"Developing" the shoot at home the next day, I was struck by this photo of Lee photgraphing an earlier view of the moon through his iPhone… in particular I was intrigued by the way the light of his screen seemed to mirror the luminescence of the moon. It was almost like he had a little moon in his hands!

I learned something new from him about iPhone photography that night when he turned me on to an app called Photosynth, which lets you take seamless panoramic shots on your iPhone in one go. I'm more and more intrigued by the possibilties offered by this easy-to-access medium since reading Al Smith's eyePhone in David du Chemin's excellent Craft & Vision e-book series.


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Aspen Medicine, Taos

I have a backlog of Beauty Dialogue posts to write, but this morning I woke up in Taos to find the world covered in snow and suddenly there is only one (click to see her larger)…