BIF and Richard Wurman by Walt Mossburg

Richard Saul Wurman, Author, Architect, Founder of TED,

With the publication of his first book in 1962 at the age of 26, RSW began the singular passion of his life: making information understandable. He chaired the International Design in Aspen in 1972, the first Federal Design Assembly in 1973, followed by the National AIA Convention in 1976, before creating and chairing TED (Technology/Entertainment/Design) conferences from 1984-2002. He is the current Chair of the TEDMED Conferences. A B.Arch and M.Arch 1959 graduate with highest honors from the University of Pennsylvania, Mr. Wurman’s nearly half-century of achievements includes the publication of his best-selling book Information Anxiety and his award winning ACCESS Travel Guides. Each of his 81 books focus on some subject or idea that he personally had difficulty understanding. Presently, he is working on his latest project 19.20.21. which he created and chairs with his four partners: Larry Keeley, Jon Kamen, Michael Hawley, and Robert Friedman.

  • WM: Richard started off as an architect; ended up as an information architect.  he has published 81 books. he invented and conducted the finest conferences I know of, the TED conference.  He sold it for a lot of money…did a good deal there.  It’s not the same conference now.  It was like going to college for 3 days.  You got the best, all speaking for 15mins.  The dinner party he always wanted to have.  He did this for 18 years.  So. with refs to virtual worlds, avatars, online community, I’ve been online almost everyday since 1983.  So why is everyone here?
  • RW: we live in an age of also, we do this, we’re also online, we get snail mail etc.   we choose the best…i could not live without email
  • WM; he sends everything in caps!
  • RW: I can’t type nor spell, so just do caplock.  I make lots of phone calls, but email has advantages.  Nothing is better than face to face.  Conversation is the best…go to school you are not taught communication.   In the last lot of books, I’ve tried to capture how to do a conversation.  It’s not as good as a face-to-face. We look at making the connection.   Matt talked about piracy…I did a conference, created a fable, ‘what if could be’.   First thing was to change copyright to the right to copy.  A book I did in 2000 I did not copyright, I put it out there.
  • WM: I’ve stolen lots of things from you,  I called him up and asked him what to call it – he said call it D so we did.  
  • WM: we are talking about leadership and how ideas stick.  I’ve been a reporter for almost 40 years.   When I started, the first place I went was Detroit, 1970, the auto industry was like the tech business today.  The CEOs of the companies, they did not talk to press, customers, they did not talk to anyone.   I drove across the state to catch the head of GM for 5 minutes.  The CEO was nothing to do with the message and brand.  Now, Jobs could be the quintessential CEO, he’s a public figure, he is the brand.  Is that good for business?
  • RW: I don’t care if they should or should not.  I know that I never had a politician nor a head of a company speak..they cannot tell the truth in public, I want people to tell the truth and they can’t.  We were all surprised at the Police Chief candour, because we do not expect.  Jobs does not tell the truth, he can’t be.     I tell the truth, I may not be factual but it is my truth! 
  • RW: last December I was thinking about what I was going to d.  I picked up a business week, all these companies were calling themselves Global.  I spent time with Fedex and National Geographic etc.   There is not directly comparative data.   So I started 192021, so 19 cities, will have 20million in the 21st.  we are usign the same way of collecting data, this is what I’m starting to do.  we are going to do an exhibit, live, one for each city, it will change as the city does.  It’s going to be online, on a memory stick going to do 40 books, slices of the data
  • just starting on that; last night we received our fund raising DVD, it explains about the project.  it’s a complicated thing to get the data with reasonable accuracy and to understand it.  There’s a group in Maryland that collects medical data everyday for all over the world and the countries call them for info (except for the US as the CDC won’t let them).

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