Last Monday I organized a gathering of smart individuals at my place. To broaden my horizons, I mostly invited people I did not know. I asked four of the guests to speak for a few minutes about something (non promotional and non partisan) that was on their minds of late.

Shelly Palmer who heads Digital Life with Shelly Palmer and wrote the jingle for Meow Mix spoke on the state of the union of digital media.

His speech was followed by a brief questions and answer session.

Mara Mourao, the award-winning Brazilian filmmaker of Doutores de Alegria spoke about her upcoming movie on social entrepreneurship: Who Cares?

Matthew Bishop the US Bureau Chief of the Economist first spoke about the consequence of giving First Amendment rights to corporations and later spoke about his new book The Road from Ruin.

My good friend Niro Anandasabapathy who is an MD PhD trained in immunology and cancer biology, now working in translational medicine at Rockefeller University, explained why we don’t have an HIV vaccine yet.

  • It’s amazing that you have so many intelligent, well-spoken people to surround yourself with. You truly have a blessed life.

    The talks were awesome. Thanks for sharing.

  • Fabrice thats was a well thought gathering.No one learns something new from existing ffriends but strange people can always provide new insights and fresh ideas.I wish you invited me but having watched the videos am not complaining.

  • Great idea and very cool! looks like I might have to move back to NYC to partake though – any thoughts of doing salons globally in key cities (er, like London, despite it now having slide behind NYC on many dimensions??)

  • Videoagency will be happy to sponsor the next by providing a professional filmmaker to make a clean movie…. Let us know when you organize the next event. I like the TED @ Home concept. Tom

  • Shelly’s talk: very cool! Here’s the question I heard: is it better to be empowered to find the information you want (including surrounding yourself with your eg. red-state filter) or to have your information provided to you by wanarua’s “strange people [who] can always provide new insights and fresh ideas”?

    I can imagine a scenario in which people have both empowered selectivity and forced exposure to different ideas (via some mechanism that I don’t want to think about; I guess political ads are an attempt). But so much of belief is just a side-effect of social identity–you filter information because you don’t want to lose your relationship with what you believe (eg. ).

    Of course empowerment allows you to find a new social group–if it’s important to you. The ‘net has been an enormous boon to some minorities–LGBTP comes to mind, but that’s based on a very deep and urgent personal belief that is at odds with many memes, especially in the USA. I wonder at what point the urgent personal demand to find information outside one’s social group overwhelms the selective filter? Scientists are trained to have this–to break our personal relationship with what we believe to be true when presented with data that contradict it–but it’s a very hard thing to do even with repeated practice. I’m clearly biased but I’m starting to believe that it is The Most Important Skill.

    I claim that in an environment in which Shelly’s empowerment is ubiquitous (eg. everywhere except China), it only does good amongst those who are equipped to risk divorcing their social groups or their articles of faith. Can such conditions be facilitated?