Thursday, March 24, 2011

A Life-changing Panel

Over the years, I've felt that certain books, plays, movies, poems, works of art had changed my life. And it goes without saying that many people and places have.

But never would I have expected that a panel entitled EBooks: New Trend for a New Decade would have that power.

I'd learned about the panel some weeks earlier. In a list of its spring programs, the Center for Communication emailed this description:

As more readers turn to digital books, a variety platforms are emerging and with them, a new wave of opportunities. Find out how writers and publishers are embracing multimedia and repurposing content to create "enhanced reading" experiences - and learn about the skills you'll need to enter this brave new world of publishing.

I was ambivalent. As a writer needing to market her work, I'd been to a lot of panels on the brave new digital publishing world, addressing issues like whether self-published works are taken seriously, online marketing resources, and how much html writers need to know. Did I really need another one?

But this turned out to be not just another "how to" panel--but "why to"--not just about how publishing is changing but how our world changing--a truly visionary panel, which I wish my sci fi loving boyfriend could have witnessed.

I'm still thinking about what I heard there, and have finally resolved to join the Twittering throngs. And when I do, these are folks I will follow.

Here are a few quotes and paraphrases transcribed from my illegible notes that may at least convey the sense of what got said.

Richard Eoin Nash:

"The individual is a construct."

"The industrial revolution style model of production is over."

"If you get to choose to be an intermediary, you can choose what kind of intermediary you will be."

Reading more intimate than sex: Someone whispering in your ear for 15 hours.

Re: libraries: "Power is in the hands of those who can orchestrate demand."

Embracing community as a way of understanding the future of content.

"In a sense, books brought about the kind of society we have now."

How writers will make a living in the future: "The creation of unhackable experiences."

“minimal viable product” For many people the cell phone is the effective credit card.

"The genius of Twitter is that it allows you to see what people are talking about."

Bob Stein:

"The core competency of future publishing is the core competency of gaming now."

"World of Warcraft is fiction."

Individuals are going to be in groups based on collaborating. If we don't get there, it'll just be because we've done ourselves in.

“Everything we know about our daily life is about to change”

"We're too far ahead too make any money, but it's an interesting place."

"You can't move from a society based on the individual to a society based on groups without ditching capitalism."

"Writers are going to learn what musicians have learned: they're going to get paid to show up."

Matt Shatz:

"Download a 4-square app."

For further information about the useful free programs offered by the Center for Communication, see

Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Man Who Ate Michael Rockefeller . . .

. . . might be a title that turns off more potential audience members than it entices. At least given the rave reviews the play garnered, that's one explanation for the significant number of empty seats in the modest-sized theater when I saw it on Saturday night.

If you're among those rendered queasy by the very idea the title proposed, don't worry (spoiler alert): the cannibal feast is not actually staged. But what is staged, and beautifully, is among the most gripping, moving, and memorable 65 minutes of theater I've seen.

The Man Who Ate Michael Rockefeller, adapted by Jeff Cohen from the story of the same name by Christopher Stokes, is about far more than the possible fate of Michael Rockefeller, who in 1961 at the age of 23 disappeared in the Asmat of New Guinea. It's a vivid portrait of one of the last of the world's ancient peoples, on the verge of having their values and culture extinguished by Western contact. Though leavened by many moments of hilarity, it's an elegy for what's been lost.

For what survives, visit the Michael C. Rockefeller Wing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

To immerse yourself in a vanished world and free yourself, at least momentarily, from the desire to accumulate millions of the papers that are our medium of exchange, catch The Man Who Ate Michael Rockefeller.

It's at the ArcLight Theater, 152 W. 71 St. For tickets: or 212-868-4444.

You've got one more week.