New York Ideas 2014

Live Coverage of New York Ideas: Library Stage

Live coverage of New York Ideas, presented by The Atlantic and the Aspen Institute, including updates on all the speakers at the New-York Historical Society in New York, N.Y.

12:17 p.m.: Lunch time! And with that, we'll conclude our time on the Library Stage--we'll be back with more innovators shortly on the Smith Stage.

12:15 p.m.: "We've been fighting [cancer] for so long, we've forgotten that we might actually just win," says Hessel, closing out his presentation on a high note.

12:13 p.m.: What's the future of cancer treatment? Sequence the cancer genome digitally, feed it into a software program that can build a personal virus for the person, print it out, and then give it to the patient--all for less than $1000 in virus-printing costs.

12:12 p.m.: Mind blown. At Autodesk, they're literally using computers to create specific viruses and then print them out. They even created popsicles: "Here, suck on a virus," Hessel says.

12:09 p.m. Hessel's now into weak oncolitic viruses that can break up cancer cells. "In the end, cancer cells just get a cold," Hessel says. So now: his challenge was to make sure the virus could speed up and fly under the radar of the human immune system.

12:07 p.m.: Hessel's breakthrough? Make drugs for a single person with a single cancer, which is "a much easier problem to solve," particularly with the advent of increasingly-cheap genetic engineering.

12:04 p.m. "Drug development isn't giving us the medicines we need," says Hessel. The pharmaceutical business model of research and development is simple: find a major "blockbuster" and conduct the lengthy process of research and development. The end result? Medicines that only address illnesses that affect small segments of the population. 

12:02 p.m.: "We completely obliterate [fast-growing] cells in a non-discriminate way," in treating cancer, according to Hessel. That's a problem, but we won't be getting more selective medicines any time soon, he explains.

12:00 p.m.: "And now for something completely different," says Andrew Hessel, Distinguished Scientist at Autodesk, by way of his own introduction. He'll be enlightening us on his work to cure cancer.

11:58 a.m.: The panel demurs when Golis asks them if they'll ever abandon the Internet and move to Vermont. "Too cold," seems to be the consensus.

11:56 a.m.: "You want [writers] to flower into their floweriness," Sicha explains with a chuckle, by way of saying that he hopes Awl writers won't require themselves to write with the traditional "voice-of-the-house."

11:54 a.m.: Golis asks about the relationship between Pitchfork readers and Pitchfork writers. How can writers have a personal connection with their readers while maintaining a coherent Pitchfork brand? The short answer from Schreiber is "social media."

11:52 a.m. "I'm this uncontrollable little weirdo running around putting up whatever she wants," Maureen Johnson says, echoing the importance of independence in writing and publishing.

11:50 a.m. Sicha says The Awl is similar to Pitchfork in starting and staying independent, adding that collective ownership of the enterprise has been important in setting the publication apart. 

11:48 a.m. "We've never taken in any venture capital, any kind of funding," Schreiber says. "It's refreshing to not have to report to anyone."

11:45 a.m. Schreiber talks innovation in online media: Pitchfork's independence from big sponsors means they can focus on the way they feature their writing--pairing stories on music with the music itself and corresponding album cover art.

11:43 a.m.: Coates and Mojica's "speed date is over," says Coates. Time for a conversation on new media with Ryan Schreiber of Pitchfork, Choire Sicha (The Awl), and Maureen Johnson, interviewed by Andrew Golis of The Wire. 

11:39 a.m.: "It's hard to tell people not to follow their life's calling," Mojica comments on the recent VICE reporter who was captured and beaten in Ukraine.

11:37 a.m.: Coates asks: is longform journalism--print or video--timeless? Mojica says that when VICE first expanded into YouTube, they tried "wacky" short videos, before they realized that "what viewers want from us is longform documentary

11:35 a.m.: What's VICE doing that's different? Mojica knocks the "authoritative voice-of-God reporter" again, by way of explaining what makes VICE more authentic, eye-opening, and attractive to millennials. 

11:31 a.m. Coates kicks it off with a pretty important question for media outlets today: what distinguishes your sensibility from everyone else's? Mojica says that they take their "bread-and-butter longform documentary" style and apply it to breaking news. 

11:28 a.m. Next up: VICE News' Jason Mojica with Ta-Nehisi Coates, National Correspondent with The Atlantic. But first, powerful coverage from VICE on classroom bullying.

11:25 a.m.: America differs from other western countries in that it its institutions are, for the most part, still world-beating. With even that said, though, there are still many people like Mark Stroman living in the U.S.

11:24 a.m.: Mark Stroman wasn't a fluke - he was an extreme expression of something dark in America and he grew out of something.

11:18 a.m.: In Stroman's story, you learn that he was both "bone rotten" and couldn't have been anything else than what he was. Almost all of the people he grew up with also went to jail for violent crimes and he grew up in an environment of abuse, so it's difficult to hold the first opinion without acknowledging the second. It also raises questions over society's collective responsibility for these segments of the population that seem to fall through the cracks.

11:15 a.m.: Anand was in India at a time of great optimism, and then returned to America to find almost the opposite - a great loss of faith. The story in True American, though, shows an America that still works, and works in a way that couldn't possibly exist in another country.

11:10 a.m.: Anand and Steve Clemons are on the stage to "bring us back down to Earth."

11:08 a.m.: Steve Clemons rises for an impromptu question! He wants to know how many young Adam Steltzners are in the pipeline. The answer (barring procreation): give our young people a thirst and drive to search for "that which is awesome."

11:03 a.m.: When NASA landed twin rovers on Mars in 2004,  the news lasted on CNN until Britney Spears came out of a limousine. Now, with social media, people are able to spread the news themselves and engage directly with information. That's probably the main reason why the public was so much more engaged with the Curiosity landing.

11:00 a.m.: When a team member wants to bring forward a new idea, Adam asks them to bring the three central reasons for the change, and the three reasons against it. This helps establish objective distance from the idea and ensure the best possible work environment.

10:57 a.m.: The same skills, technology, and discipline that we would need to terraform another planet are the same skills, technology, and discipline that we need to keep this planet safe for us. There lies the paradox in discussing extra-planetary colonization.

10:56 a.m.: If he found out we were alone, Adam would probably freak out. "Everyone stop what you're doing - we might break it!"

10:55 a.m.: "Could all of our experiences be a unique moment in a unique point in the universe?" It's this question, among others, which drives us to question whether there is other life in the universe.

10:54 a.m.: What are the final questions of Mars? "Is it alive? Was it ever alive? Are we alone?"

10:52 a.m.: Rule no. 1: no one person invents anything alone. Engineering is a collaborative art, which is what makes it so great.

10:51 a.m.: Houston, we have a rocket scientist. Please welcome Adam Steltzner to the stage.

10:50 a.m.: The two things that drive online consumer behavior are urgency and exclusivity, according to Tracy. These lessons probably extend to offline consumer behavior as well.

10:46 a.m.: In the pop-up world, what succeeds is what people really need. It also helps if you can time and place it to coincide with certain large, focused events. Erik and Tristan have seen stores open from 6 hours to 6 months, but they typically see people earning $7 for every $1 they spend on renting the space.

10:42 a.m.: Boutique shopping is becoming more and more appealing directly in response to the globalization of the retail space and fashion. Tradesy has amassed a collection of rare designer bags, because people are so interested in having something truly unique. For Garance, a big thing is how the Internet has amplified the power of recommendation when it comes to shopping and fashion.

10:39 a.m.: For Tracy, the fascinating part of creating a peer-to-peer marketplace is that "we are all now our own pop-up shops." Airbnb makes anyone a hotel, Uber makes anyone a taxi, and Tradesy can make anyone into their own boutique.

10:34 a.m.: The pop-up store sold out of everything within a day-and-a-half, even with sales happening online at the same time. This shows how pop-up stores can become not only a chance for exclusive shopping, but multi-dimensional, fully realized experiences.

10:32 a.m.: Garance wasn't looking to disrupt anything, she just wanted to connect with her readers. That's why she created a space where people could come and meet her when she came out with her new line of stationery.

10:31 a.m.: Storefront is kind of like dating - you can start off online, but you're eventually going to want to go offline and get that "tactile response."

10:30 a.m.: Much like the music industry, with the unbundling of music, we are now seeing the unbundling of retail. Instead of committing to a five-year or ten-year lease, you can now do only two weeks or a few months.

10:28 a.m.: It's fashion time, with Garance Dore, Tristan Pollock, Erik Eliason, and Tracy Dinunzio. Also featuring the fabulous Connie Wang of Refinery29.

10:14 a.m.: Millennials' news consumption doesn't differ that radically from that of the general populace, contrary to popular expectations. David Burstein says that millennials like to consume news in a traditional manner because they are discerning about where they get their critical information from.

10:12 a.m: During the presidential debate between Romney and Obama, one of the most popular tweets was simply that Big Bird is 8-foot-2. A pretty neat encapsulation of what social media is capable and not capable of doing.

10:11 a.m.: On the Mental Floss list, there's almost no "news" stories. It's almost entirely made up of Buzzfeed lists. Way to go, Buzzfeed.

10:09 a.m.: From on high, the Voice of God introduces Mangesh Hattikudur and Will Pearson of Mental Floss, and author David Burstein.

10:04 a.m.: "I think the media has far more power than ever before." Traditional media isn't dying - if anything, it's even more influential. There's now a reader base that is able to read something and immediately transform it into a movement that can gain momentum and effect change.

10:01 a.m.: Organizations such as incentivize elected officials to pay attention to the desires of their constituents, since they provide citizens with a greater ability to mobilize and make themselves heard.

10:00 a.m.: The three least responsive institutions in the country: the United Nations, the President, and Congress.

9:59 a.m.: There has been a reversal in access to collective action, thanks to a significant reduction in the cost of information proliferation and increased connectivity.

9:57 a.m.: Just yesterday, Coke and Pepsi announced they were going to remove a potentially toxic chemical from their products. Why? Because a teenage girl formed a petition and led a campaign against it. Rattray gives this as an example of popular campaigns having real impact.

9:55 a.m.: Now joining us on Library Stage - Ben Rattray and Justin Brown.

9:53 a.m.: All young people in the world, from Silicon Valley to Mumbai--"face the same worry about the future." Nishar hopes the audience can help young people see the possibility in the world instead.

9:51 a.m.: Nishar believes that the key to solving these three challenges is connectivity--between institutions, in mentoring relationships, and in leadership. 

9:49 a.m.: The third problem? Diversity. Nishar cites the measly 12% of jobs in Silicon Valley filled by women.

9:48 a.m. The second problem we've got to work on is creativity in problem-solving. "Computers give answers," Nishar says, but they don't ask questions. That's our job.

9:46 a.m.: We've got three economic problems facing us as we come out of the recession, Nishar says. The first? The skills gap: middle America is unemployed while Silicon Valley is desperate for computer scientists.

9:44 a.m.: Nishar believes that the countries that have already begun implementing STEAM education--he cites China and India as examples--have been reaping the rewards, and in cold, hard GDP, no less. He doesn't expand on this point, though.

9:42 a.m.: Really, "we need to be teaching our students how to construct scientific problems" not just solve them. How? STEAM education, or Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math education.

9:40 a.m.: Nishar had the world's most impressive science teacher, who encouraged students to apply their learning in the classroom to the (complicated, messy) real world. When his teacher couldn't answer his question, she encouraged Nishar to use one of the two phones in the school to call an expert. "She gave us the key that opened the lock" to the outside world, Nishar says.

9:37 a.m. Nishar's middle class family might have only had running water for 10 minutes at night, but he was still dreaming big for his science fair project, which was a model to demo how to convert geothermal energy into electricity. Despite technical difficulties--which made him realize that he wanted to be an engineer--he placed second and was featured in a national newspaper. 

9:35 a.m. It's a rotary phone! The price? 10,000 rupees and a whole lot of hours waiting in line. These were rare in India in the '80s, when Nishar was growing up.

9:33 a.m.: Deep Nishar, Senior Vice President of Products and User Experience at LinkedIn, plans to talk about economic empowerment and a mysterious "communication device" that only comes in one color. Guesses?

9:31 a.m.: Voice of God says: "Welcome to the stage, Deep Nishar."

9:28 a.m.: Lewis-Halpern answers the culture fit question with a personal story. Her father, who grew up in all-black urban schools, is the inspiration behind All-Star Code. After participating in an early program for African American students, he wound up going to college and having a career on Wall Street, the inner sanctum of the old white boys' club. Lewis-Halpern believes that All-Star Code can prepare students for the tech workplace in much the same way, but she dodges Garber's supposition that perhaps tech hiring is biased.

9:26 a.m.: Garber asks: "What about this idea of culture fit?" Couldn't it be an excuse to hire people who look and act like the rest of Silicon Valley?

9:22 a.m.: Christina Lewis-Halpern explains the intention of All Star Code: to expose young men of color to the tech world and prepare them for jobs in tech. The model has been successful in mentoring young women of color--so, Lewis-Halpern says, why not boys?

9:20 a.m.: Up now: Christina Lewis-Halpern, Founder of All Star Code; Taofeek Rabiu, Senior Technical Manager at AOL; and Nikolas Rassoules, Sophomore student in the All Star Code program, all interviewed by Megan Garber, who covers tech for The Atlantic.

9:18 a.m.: Can Tough Mudder be seen as an external metaphor for overcoming difficult life challenges? Absolutely: "Training for Tough Mudder is something I can control" is something that Dean hears from enthusiasts a lot.

9:16 a.m.: "It's a way of life for people."

9:14 a.m.: Why do people always see a bunch of people running and assume that it's a race? Dean's clear that the point isn't finishing ahead of people, it's the teamwork involved: "It's about people being part of a team, it's about switching off their smartphones . . . it's everybody on the course being a team." 

9:12 a.m.: What's the most challenging part for Dean? He's tall, so the tunnels are the worst for him. For Derek? Probably the Arctic Enema. The good news? They'd probably work well on a team together.

9:10 a.m.: Already on to our next contestant: Will Dean, Founder of Tough Mudder, with Derek Thompson, Senior Editor at The Atlantic. Derek introduces Dean as the toughest guy to grace The Atlantic stage. Sounds about right. 

9:05 a.m.: Julie Rice and Elizabeth Cutler are "delivering soul to the people" as part of their exercise regimen. Pels asks: but isn't it a little on the "culty" side of things? Nope, our Soul Cyclers say. It's a "community" and a "movement" where people have formed close friendships and grieved together. "When you're a part of something that feels that good," they say, "you're obsessed."

9:01 a.m.: Kicking the day off with a jolt of energy from the Co-founders of Soul Cycle, Elizabeth Cutler and Julie Rice, interviewed by Jessica Pels, Features Editor and Online Deputy Editor at Teen Vogue.

8:55 a.m.: Good morning, audience near and far, and welcome to New York Ideas: the Innovators, which promises an excellent and eclectic bunch of brilliant people on stage throughout the day.