Thinking is—how do we put this?—hard. So you can imagine the difficulty in pulling off something billed as a "Festival of Ideas," especially in a place like Berkeley, where every day is kind of a festival of deep thoughts. But that's just what Berkeleyside is attempting with its second annual Uncharted festival this weekend. "A dinner party is a good metaphor," says Lance Knobel, the site's co-founder. "There's no science to it—it's an art."
He's talking about the two-day long series of conversations that take place this Friday and Saturday. The lineup includes an impressive range of both thinkers and doers, including Nobel Prize-winner Randy Schekman, food policy expert Saru Jayaraman, composer John Adams, Mexico's consul general in San Francisco Andrés Roemer, and Carl Bass, the President and CEO of Autodesk. By design, it's an eclectic group.
"We have a root belief that bringing different domains into close proximity is a good thing," says Knobel. "The great problem with academia is the reward system is based on success in your silo. But many of the most interesting things emerge at the seams between disciplines." That's why—unlike TED talks—Uncharted is programmed as a series of conversations, rather than lectures.
It is Berkeley, after all, so Knobel thinks that Uncharted has a different slant than something like TED. "TED would deny that they have any ideology," says Knobel. "But we are very comfortable with politics. We're happy to bathe in it."
The best news of all? The Giants play in the evening—which means plenty of time to attend during the day.