"Hey, I have an idea," this week on the Bleader

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Paved paradise, put up Chicago in a lightbulb.
  • Paved paradise, put up Chicago in a lightbulb.
Today marks the first day of Chicago Ideas Week, a festival/conference/seminar from now until Sunday that features a range of presentations and events, all seemingly about "ideas" . . . but not really. Featuring discussions with topics such as "Future of News: What's the Story?" (presented by Time magazine) and "Explorers: Seeking the Edge" (presented by the edgy Hyatt hotels), the conference also boasts a number of famous people, in politics (Colin Powell), film (Edward Norton), and sports (Lance Armstrong), among others. To coincide with this elaborate, vague conference, we've decided to make this week's Variations on a Theme about "ideas."

If Chicago Ideas Week has any precedent, it's transparently the TED talks, traveling, videotaped "webinars" wherein a variety of people give oddly new-agey presentations about big, unwieldy topics. In other words: glorified Introduction to Philosophy classes. TED talks, as have already been recounted elsewhere, have become viral Internet memes. This nascent industry seems to have spawned competitors with its success, and Chicago Ideas Week is our local edition. And how was this conference able to book so many famous people? It's sponsored by J.P. Morgan, which is presumably footing the bill.

All week long, check back here for writing about ideas, which will be about ideas and possibly about this new notion of "ideas," where talks about inspiration and ungraspable topics are packaged and disseminated as ways to spend your time. And in case you missed it, go here to read writing from Marathon Week, last week's Variations on a Theme.

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