I’m at Squaw Valley for the Gruter Institute conference, giving a talk about the future of work. It’s a very intersting time, and not just because it’s up near Lake Tahoe. The Gruter Institut for Law and Behavioral Research
is a research community that fosters collaboration across disciplines in order advance our understanding of the interplay between law, institutions and human behavior. The goal of the Institute is to build a richer understanding of the underlying behaviors at the heart of society’s most pressing problems and to improve our understanding of how law and other institutions facilitate or hinder those behaviors.
I came here last year to talk about rest and creativity, and this year am talking about my new work on shorter working hours and the future of work.
For me, the event is interesting precisely because I’m not a legal scholar, or biologist, or economist or public policy person; but lots of the issues they talk about turn out to touch on things that I’m interested in, and so for me it’s a chance to pick up some new ideas, and think about my work in a new light.
Though of course being in Squaw Valley doesn’t hurt. To me, this is the quintessential example of a place that supports deliberate rest: I have these intense intellectual exchanges, then can go for a long walk and let these fizzy ideas play on their own and turn into something while I admire the mountains. And even if I’m just going to the coffee shop in the condos across the street, I have a great view of the mountains, which I find helps stimulate divergent thinking.
Indeed, after dinner last night I was walking around, and stopped to make some notes about my talk by a fire pit.
I just hope the talk lives up to the place!
The only downside is that that it doesn’t happen during spring break, so my wife can’t make it, too.
There are people who treat conferences like a theatre. I once saw a very eminent scholar who writes on technology and social life arrive at a conference by limo a half hour before their talk, give their talk (it wasn’t that good), shake a couple hands, then leave. As a display of professional eminence it was interesting; but intellectually it was a lost opportunity.
But I’ve decided that if I’m going to travel to a conference, and the organizers think I have something worth listening to, that means that they probably have things worth my listening to. And at the very worst, there’s always a nice walk.