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One of the coolest moments I've had at the Aspen Ideas Festival was the realization that I don't need to be here. A decade or two ago, that wasn't the case. If I wanted to see Bill Gates talk about education reform, I had to wait until 60 Minutes ran a special on it, or until he came to town and I could finagle a ticket. A chance to come see newsmakers and leading thinkers speak on panels was, in that world, a rare opportunity, particularly if you lived outside of DC or New York. And if you got the chance, you had to take good notes, or record it, because if you missed a moment or a quote, it was gone.

But not anymore. Want to see Bill Gates talk policy? Fine. Here you go:

Want to see what I'm seeing at the Aspen Ideas Festival? Tool around in their video library. Or check out the live stream. The internet is such a constant companion these days that it's easy to forget just what an explosion of information and access it really represents. It's easy, in fact, to take it for granted: It used to be that I couldn't see the panels I wanted to see. Now I put off watching them, comforted that they'll be there tomorrow, too.

By Ezra Klein  |  July 9, 2010; 9:00 AM ET
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yes! a miracle!!!!
.and i think the key to having these transformations make a change for the better in our lives, is by having gratitude for them, and to maintain that mindfulness of appreciation.
i was just thinking back, when i was working as a "secretary," forty years ago, i had to transcribe everything with gregg shorthand, and could type three duplicate copies at a time with carbon, and backspace over white correcto-strips for every single typo.
ledgers were all kept by hand, and mass mailings were sent out on the office telex machine, that resembled an old calliope.
i worked for stock analysts, and the only way to get information to them, was to cut off little pieces of the reuters tape, and hand deliver it to their office, running down the halls, to advise them of stock splits and important news.
now, everything is so different. it was like the dark ages, just forty years ago.
a few years ago, i was at a little bookshop with two children, and there was an exquisite, gilded encyclopedia brittanica for sale, for twenty-four dollars. i was excited to buy it for the children, and then, the little boy said...."we dont need that anymore."
and at that moment, i realized that they really did have the keys to the universe....and it was no longer just within the pages of an unchanging book, where the knowledge stayed static, and the same, forever.
as long as we stay in awe, and appreciate these marvels, they continue to make us feel happier and free, in our lives!
i am just continually amazed, that on youtube, i can hear an elk bugling in the rocky mountains, see a scene from the classic movie, "picnic," and see rudolf nureyev and margot fonteyn dancing a pas du deux, and then read a thread on a blog....all around the world and back into loops of time, in fifteen minutes!!!
who would have believed it!!!!!
we are so lucky!!!!

Posted by: jkaren | July 9, 2010 9:38 AM | Report abuse

You miss things remotely. The feel of the room, for one. Are people grimacing, smirking, adoring, or awed? Second, the ability to talk after hours and during breaks to all of the other Aspenites, who aren't the same people you talk to every day.

Posted by: ostap666 | July 9, 2010 9:41 AM | Report abuse


you are right.
there is no substitute for "living" life.

Posted by: jkaren | July 9, 2010 9:43 AM | Report abuse

"there is no substitute for "living" life." there?
i guess only neurobiologists can tell us, for sure.
there must be a TED lecture somewhere, on that!

Posted by: jkaren | July 9, 2010 9:49 AM | Report abuse

This post is, to put it bluntly, horse-puckey. The point of a conference is not to listen to the talks. The point of a conference is to participate in live discussion with the speakers, to challenge and interact with your fellow conferees.

This is like saying, why would I ever need to go to a concert? I can listen to the CD.

Posted by: Klug | July 9, 2010 10:28 AM | Report abuse

Networking is the point. You can meet people and later say: "Oh, yes, we met in Aspen at the Gates lecture."

The lectures are just an excuse for seeing and being seen. A conversation piece, if you will.

Posted by: theorajones1 | July 9, 2010 11:08 AM | Report abuse

Well, if you actually wanted to hear Bill Gates talk policy. Just sayin'.


Posted by: JJenkins2 | July 9, 2010 11:56 AM | Report abuse

Makes me think back to how much of pain in the butt it was as a high school student trying to get a hold of Bad Religion cassette in Casper, Wyoming circa 1989.

Posted by: flounder2 | July 9, 2010 11:56 AM | Report abuse

All of which leads to questions regarding the differences between those with the time and money to attend events like Aspen and the rest of the world. David Rothko wrote a very good book a few years back "Superclass : the global power elite and the world they are making". Probably the single most important criteria for admission to the Superclass is simply the ability to show up. Something not shared by 99.9999% of the global population, including those limited to watching podcasts on the Aspen web site.

Posted by: WoodbridgeVa1 | July 9, 2010 12:52 PM | Report abuse

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