With Techonomy 2013 just weeks away, our team at Broadway and Bond in NoHo is putting the final touches on our best program ever. Techonomy carries a heritage from our many years at Fortune. It’s a living magazine. Tina Brown calls conferences “theatrical journalism,” and we don’t eschew that, but ideas are what get us most excited. The conference opens with a look at the extraordinary ways tech is changing business, and ends with an even bigger-picture look at how innovation is transforming the world and life. We especially aim to elucidate for businesspeople the ideas and energies that will keep their companies—and themselves—relevant. And the corollary—the risks they face if they underestimate the tech and Net revolution.
Some other conferences consider their programming work done when they just get a big name person on stage. We don’t put any person or session up there without a clear sense of purpose. We have a set of ideas we aim to convey. Among the sessions this year:
-The limits of the virtual—what can’t you do online? What is tech doing to the real world?
-Is the Internet for or against you?
-A look at the clash of generations as millenials flood into business with a dramatically different set of attitudes and values.
-Tony Hsieh of Zappos on how cities—notably his own Las Vegas—are like companies.
-A session programmed by the World Economic Forum on the implications of a hyperconnected world.
-A 13-year-old explains the importance and opportunities of the exploding game Minecraft.
-The implications of our growing ability to synthesize life, with Stewart Brand.
-Why platforms matter in business
-The future of American elections in a networked age
-Are we heading towards a world of greater individualized creativity or more homogenized conventional thinking and products?
-Can journalism survive the online onslaught?
-Where is marketing headed, and especially what does it mean that what used to be considered “luxury” experiences are now increasingly available to all?
If someone at Techonomy doesn’t leave with new ideas we consider ourselves to have failed. We certainly don’t understand all the answers to and implications of the questions and themes I just listed above. We are learning in real time with our audience.
Another hallmark of Techonomy is its interaction. We are conducting a conversation at all times, not broadcasting what’s on stage to a room full of people (though we do stream the entire conference live via webcast).
We put together a superb and surprising group of people from a wide range of businesses and disciplines. It enriches our conversation. We spend a year thinking about the themes and people that most embody the issues that matter. Then we stir, and wait to see what happens.
In less than four weeks, in the desert outside Tucson, surrounded by 30-foot Saguaros, we’ll find out.