The New Yorker Conference: Stories from 2012

When I saw the advertisement for the conference I knew I had to be there. I grew up with The New Yorker magazine — in fact, a little known fact about me is that at the tender age of 14 I sent a poem I’d written to The New Yorker. Of course it was a pretty lousy poem which certainly was rejected; I received a nice letter thanking me for my submission. I don’t think I even told my parents I’d submitted anything.

Anyway, I’ve read a lot of NYer magazines in my life and have loved and hated a lot of the writing I’ve read in it. But the New Yorker Conference was a must.
I had the good fortune to hear Malcolm Gladwell, son of a mathematician, tell stories just as he does in his books — rambling, not sure where they’re going, full of rich language informative stories that conclude with elegant solutions to complex problems that you didn’t even know existed. He connects the dots so beautifully — his brilliance is finding those gems that lead to his conclusions. I also learned from Dennis Muren; how the special effects we’ve seen in Terminator 2 and Jurassic Park were made…and how his curiosity has always led him to figure out how to do something instead of thinking it can’t be done — made me wish I could have another life as a student at Cal Arts. I loved meeting and talking with Ken Auletta — the charming and smart writer who’s graced the pages of the NYer for years. He’s one of those guys you just know has so much information and brain power –like a cheshire cat grinning…what’s behind that smile? Can’t I have another go round as a journalism major and work my butt off so that I can be an editorial assistant at the New Yorker? The Washington Post? The New York Times?

The amazing creator of Sim City and the Sims, Will Wright, presented us with a peek at his new game that will clearly be a hit in our home — Spore will captivate any child/human who loves to create creatures, (think of your Mii for your Wii — My son created a Mii for me and everyone in our family — and as cartoonish as they are they actually look like each of us) how they move about the world and create more opportunities to create actions and reactions. Absolutely playful and smart and profitable.

One sad note — David Byrne gave a most depressing presentation about the state of the music industry. We all know there needs to be a new model for this business but no one seems to know how it’s going to work so that artists can make any money. With all of the co-mingling of music being made via technology more people have their music heard than ever before…but there’s not much in the way of pay…

The NYer Conference was about looking five years ahead. Barry Diller said the truth: We don’t know what’s going to be happening in 2012. If you look back five years ago and see all that’s here that we didn’t know, or have, or use as we do now…there’s no telling what’s ahead. We can see the hints leading us ahead and take cues and be proactive. Let our curiosity guide us. Got to stay on our toes. There’s so much in our world that is content and visually rich. So many options to grab hold of. We all want to create and achieve and be a part of something. Sometimes the world’s a bit overwhelming…like the New Yorker Conference. But so good.