This weekend, in Washington, DC, a couple of my friends pulled off the seemingly impossible. Seven guys, all in their twenties -- none of which with permanent mailing addresses, and all of whom affectionately refer to each other as samurais -- staged a 750-people-plus, invitation-only gathering attended by the world's top influencers. With the group's impressive reach into the highest echelons of entertainment, technology, politics, business, and philanthropy, what went down was essentially a very fine frenzy of connecting, mind-melding, and revelry. It was called Summit Series DC10. Founded by Elliott Bisnow and run with buddies including Jeff Rosenthal, Brett Leve, and Mark Korshak, the event is part of a young but rapidly growing series of conferences focused on bringing together the "best-of-the-best," regardless of background, for a weekend of concentrated co-mingling, talks, panels, and yes -- partying.
Most interesting, I found, about the event was the diversity of passions and professions amongst the people that I got to meet. As both a polymath (filmmaker, musician, technologist, TV producer) and a guy who's just not that into conferences -- I mean really, who is? -- I was thrilled to see such a broad range of tastemakers descend upon Washington to mull over such pressing and occasionally abstract topics as 'the future of music,' 'media and transformation,' 'philanthropy 2.0,' 'curating life,' and the like. Seeded with notables you may have heard of (Bill Clinton, billionaire David Rubenstein, futurist Ray Kurzweil), others you should take note of ('possibilities accelerator' Rafe Furst, Causecast's Brian Sirgutz, film director Barry Ptolemy), and all-around cool, free-thinking entrepreneurs (The Holster Project's Justin Fishkin, Texts From Last Night's Ben Bator, and OAR's Benj Gershman), the conversations were broad, plentiful, and galvanized every night by appropriate celebration.
One realization that I had over the weekend was that such a wide assortment of top-shelf specialists converging in one place is probably a new trend that we're going to see a lot more of. As the aforementioned Ray Kurzweil alluded to in his keynote speech, any conversation about media in the year 2010 is essentially one about technology as well. You simply cannot talk about music, TV, film, or even philanthropy and medicine these days without steering ultimately towards the Internet and beyond. It's no secret that digital tools have and are irrevocably changing the business models of media, and it's also pretty apparent that the industries that have been the most resistant to change could generally use the most work. Therefore, by bringing everyone together under one roof -- from the owners of distribution channels to the artists that pen emotional response, to even energy executives and politicians -- the net effect, one hopes, would be transparency and acceleration towards real change.
To further illustrate my point, just think about what it would have looked like having such a broad range of specialists in one place ten, or even five, years ago. Musicians hanging with scientists? Actresses with marketing gurus? In a way, it might have looked like ten groups of people trying to communicate in just as many languages. Technology, then, has become a modern Rosetta Stone -- a unifier of all things that matter, so that regardless of business or craft we can all be present in the same conversation. What Summit Series DC10 felt like, then, was an inspired, vertically-integrated gathering of the authors of tomorrow -- complete with a fully-stocked bar. Can't wait for the next!