The Friedman Forum... and its coming competition

Yesterday the New York Times announced a brand new conference called The Next New World. The URL gives the game away, however -- it's the Friedman Forum. The précis

Pulitzer Prize–winning New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman hosts this timely forum, bringing together chief executive officers, tech pioneers, government officials, influential decision-makers and scholars to discuss the new world economy, opportunities and challenges. We will explore the complex dynamics of new-world infrastructure, especially the transformative electronic, digital and mobile environment. Attendees can expect invaluable insights into strategies for success in today’s new world order.

If you act before May 10, you can get the discounted rate of $995.00 to attend! 

Why should you shell out that kind of cabbage to go to such a confab? Well, there's the speaker list of course, but even better, the Friedman Forum has a "Why Attend?" page that will answer this very question. The good parts version: 

The New York Times Next New World Forum is an invitation-only, highly interactive forum that explains:

How this Next New World is changing your job, your workplace, and your competition...

How cyberattacks and monetary crises are the new national security threats—threats to global businesses as well as nations....

How brands are threatened as never before by new players, and why C-Suite executives are both more constrained and less likely to last....

How robotics and other cutting-edge technologies can increase productivity but also disrupt your office and workforce....

How everything from climate change to fallen infrastructure is threatening global supply chains and how the rise of a new global middle class is disrupting American global dominance—while creating new markets.

After reading this, as well as CUNY's announcement that former CENTCOM commander/CIA Director David Petraeus will lead a seminar on the United States and the global economic crisis, I had two reactions. 

1) At what point does one decide, "Why, yes, I should lecture people on the New New Things in the Global Economy! And charge at least a thousand dollars for the privilege"? 

This is a serious question. I get asked this a lot at various talks, and I'm always befuddled by the query. I mean, if I had the actual answer, I wouldn't be so low in the international relations speaker ecosystem

2)  Forget Davos, Aspen or TED -- the Friedman Forum suggests a whole new vista of conferences branded around the idiosyncracies of individual thought leaders. Friedman better nail this down fast, because the coming competition will be fierce. In the spirit of... er... alliteration and Robert Ludlum titles, let me predict some other possible confabs on the horizon: 

A) The Gross Gaggle. Organized by PIMCO's Bill Gross, this would be a collection of the world's most florid investment letter-writers in the world, warning about risk and uncertainty.

The Big Finale: Gross doing a spoken-word version of his latest newsletter with Dave Brubeck's "Take Five" playing in the background. 

B) The Slaughter Seminar. The new president of the New America Foundation will lead a highly interdisciplinary gathering to focus on the myriad ways that the 21st century is upending our static 20th century mindsets. Topics will include the role of social networks, social media networks, online networks, gendered networks, and networked networks.

The Big Finale: A three-hour break in the middle of the day for participants to bond with their families. 

C) The Dowd Doohickey. Join the Red Priestess as she explains how leadership is supposed to be done in the 21st century. After the ritual flaying of a political scientist to appease the Social Science Gods, Dowd will explain exactly how politicians used to Get Things Gone back in the day.

The Big Finale: Dowd and Aaron Sorkin will re-enact some of the classic Josh Lyman-Donna Moss scenes from The West Wing

D) The Taleb Teach-In. Just how fragile is your financial position in this time of massive geopolitical and geoeconomic uncertainty? The author of The Black Swan and Antifragile will unleash his crystal ball and stare deeply into your portfolio to see if you're really and truly prepared for a volatile century.

The Big Finale: Taleb unleashes an army of zombies into the auditorium to sort out the resilient from the posers. 

E) The Morozov Mish-Mash. Everything is sh*t -- your beliefs, your ideas, your likes, your dislikes, and particularly your values. If you dare attend, Morozov will explain why Everything You Hope for is a Chimera.

The Big Finale. Morozov will glare out at the audience, grumble, "you all suck," drop the mic, and walk off stage. 

[And what about your confab?!--ed.  I'll let the commenters decide the contents of... the Drezner Deliberations!]


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