Uncharted: The Berkeley Festival of Ideas

September 25 2013

Uncharted: The Berkeley Festival of Ideas.

It will be what it claims. The pitch, in the unabashed style of its founder:


I thought you’d be interested in my latest brainstorm, and I’d love your help in spreading the word. Even better, I’d love to see you at Uncharted.

After plenty of years of doing Davos-like things for others, I’m now doing it for myself.* This October, I’m launching Uncharted: The Berkeley Festival of Ideas, October 25-26 in downtown Berkeley, California. Uncharted is, amazingly, the first ideas festival in the Bay Area — the world’s greatest generator of ideas. It’s a two-day gathering for “infovores”: people who are engaged across a variety of domains, eager to share ideas, grapple with provocative thinking, and have their preconceptions challenged. People, it seems to me, like you and many people in your various networks.

This isn’t remotely intended to be a Davos Lite (or All Things D, or Disrupt, or a host of others). It’s not about CEOs or Presidents, no speakers are there because of their institutional title, no one is making a corporate or product pitch, it most likely will not be the place where you strike your next big deal. Uncharted is purely about ideas, and I’ve hand-selected the speakers and topics to provoke, prod and push participants’ thinking.

There will be no panels in the conventional sense: most of Uncharted will be one-on-one or one-on-two conversations. We’ll also have a space devoted to truly hands on, interactive workshops. I’m intent on Uncharted being a festival (not, horrors, a conference or a summit or a symposium). So there will be plenty of fun, music, food and drink. And, I hope, more than a touch of the unexpected. And the tone and culture will be that of a bootstrapped start-up, because that’s what we are.

What happens at Uncharted? UC Berkeley’s Ananya Roy on global poverty, economist Brad DeLong and big data maven Josh Bloom on robotics and employment (my title: “I for one welcome our new robot overlords”), ex-Wired Editor Chris Anderson on the new industrial revolution, io9’s Annalee Newitz on humans and mass extinction, innovation guru Vivek Wadhwa on what works and what doesn’t work for entrepreneurship, Daily Kos’ Markos Moulitsas on the 2014 midterm elections, National Center for Lesbian Rights’ Kate Kendell on the frontier of civil rights, right-wing wunderkind Josh Barro on the prospects for a responsible Republic Party… and a great Friday night party for festivalgoers at the Brutalist masterpiece Berkeley Art Museum. And much, much more.

If this sounds intriguing, I’d love to see you there. I’d certainly very much appreciate any help you can give in telling people about Uncharted and how amazing it will be to have the Bay Area’s first ideas festival.

You can find out more about Uncharted on our website. […] (You can also go straight to the ticket purchase with this link.) Please encourage your Bay Area friends to come. Proceeds from Uncharted will help support Berkeleyside, the thriving local news website I co-founded four years ago. I’m convinced that as Uncharted grows, it can become the tail that wags the dog for our independent local journalism.

I’m very eager in any case to hear what you think of Uncharted.

I hope to see you in Berkeley in October.



*I continue to do it for others. Something still has to pay the bills.”


San Francisco (old post).

One Response to “Uncharted: The Berkeley Festival of Ideas”

  1. davidderrick Says:

    The problem, if any, here might be lack of “theme”. To which the response (I have not had this conversation) would be that a “theme” would be death. But perhaps it wouldn’t.

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