Episode 39: Richard Saul Wurman

Episode 39: Richard Saul Wurman

Richard Saul Wurman is a designer, architect, author of over 80 books, and founder of several conferences including TED, WWW, and EG. Presently, he is working on Prophesy2025, a conference about the near future.

Richard caught our attention because he is both an architect and connoisseur of conversation. Because of this, we spoke entirely about conversation itself: its forms, rituals, and value. We also spoke about broader conversation and the hypothesis underlying this project.

This episode is very different from its predecessors. It does not contain a prescriptive vision of the future, definitions of the broader good, or an exploration of a new phenomenon. It also lacks explicit connections to other interviewees, though you will hear implicit connections and think about Lawrence Torcello more than once.

Given these differences, you may wonder why Micah and I chose to include Richard’s interview in a project about society-wide conversations and the future. We have two reasons. First, Richard has thought about the details of conversation more than most of us and he provides a useful lens to examine our interviewees and the roles that Micah and I play in The Conversation (apologies for going meta). Second, while broader conversations may exist, Richard has no interest in creating or guiding them. He seeks interesting days for himself and is, generally speaking, a relativist.

We think relativism is an important idea to address.

Relativism questions the very concept of good and critiques the efforts of every participant in this series, regardless of their agendas. It also challenges The Conversation as a project and presses us to explain why we cling to our naive belief that there is something greater than solipsism and hedonism. This is a good challenge. This is why we’re posting Richard’s conversation.