Sunday, March 06, 2005

blink. or you'll miss it.

I've been a fan of malcolm gladwell for a long time. yesterday I had the pleasure of being the very last person the Hammer museum let in to see him speak. (my friend and I arrived late while other friends held a spot on line - I still feel bad for the couple right behind us. there was easily another 100 people that didn't get in).

malcolm was there to speak about his new book, blink. I'll admit I haven't read it - yet - but I'm a huge fan of the tipping point and his columns in the new yorker. he's been on a publicity blitz the last few weeks - every newspaper, magazine, NPR show lately seems to have an interview with him(which explains the huge crowds at the hammer).

here's the thing - he's a great speaker. his writing is lively, entertaining, smart and so is his delivery live. obviously, the crux of his appearance was promoting the new book - recounting some of its anecdotes. he gave examples of how rapid cognition works for and against us in terms of making good decisions. how altering the environment in which we make decisions alters the outcome of those decisions. how law enforcement and the judicial system could be made more fair by eliminating certain biases inherent in rapid cognition. all illustrated in a multitude of examples gleaned from medicine, politics, history, music.

but the highlight was really the audience Q&A. here is where malcolm really shined. he's engaging, self-effacing, funny. no problem going "off script." he even insisted on taking extra questions when the moderators told him he only had time for one more.

I'm behind on my reading but if blink is half as good as his articles and previous book, I'll be buying it shortly.

check out the hammer's calendar of upcoming lectures. an eclectic mix including David Byrne and Matthew Barney.


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