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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.