WWW Conference

Mission Inn Hotel and Spa Riverside, California

ESRI Redlands, California

What happens when some of the world’s brightest minds come together in one location to talk one-on-one about anything and everything? No script. No preparation. No podium or teleprompters. It’s more than an interesting premise or an esoteric exercise of what if.

The result was open, honest conversation about topics ranging from climate change to video games, insects, the inner city, and even the end of the world as we know it.

The WWW Conference made its worldwide debut in Southern California—opening at the historic Mission Inn Hotel and Spa in Riverside and concluding with two days at the state-of-the-art theater on the campus of Esri in Redlands. Richard Saul Wurman—architect, cartographer, and founder of the now globally recognized TED conferences—created this new and wildly inventive forum as the “anti-conference.” While TED talks have been elevated to near pop culture status, receiving millions of views online, they have a practiced, polished, and professional look and feel today that’s different from their initial iteration in 1984.

Wurman, who also created and participated in the TEDMED Conferences 1995–2010 and many other conferences and events, sought to break new ground—and looked to do so by celebrating improvised conversation. The result was truly inspirational, instructional, and a perfect nexus of art and science.

The WWW Conference provided three days of dynamic dialog. Wurman’s mandate was simple: pair amazing individuals together and spark conversation with a simple question, idea, or premise. Then let the conversation evolve, naturally and organically, without rehearsal, preparation, or planning of any sort.

From musician and producer Quincy Jones to ocean explorer Dave Gallo, magician David Blaine, Tony Award-winning film and musical director Julie Taymor, experimental psychologist Steven Pinker, The Simpsons creator Matt Groening, theoretical physicist Lisa Randall, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet C. K. Williams, and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, nearly 50 renowned personalities across diverse disciplines agreed to join in the intellectual and artistic stew.

Conversations lasted from 30 minutes to more than an hour. There were musical performances; poetry readings; and guests, such as astrophysicists, microbiologists, researchers, actors, playwrights, and CEOs, reinvigorating what it means to create truth, knowledge, and understanding.

“It was an energetic exploration of the lost art of conversing,” says Wurman. “The most innovative ideas come from conversations between two individuals.”

“Richard Saul Wurman is a true visionary, and his work as author, architect, urban planner, and founder of TED put him in a unique position to carry out the WWW Conference in magnificent fashion,” says Jack Dangermond of ESRI.