Tuesday, August 22, 2017

By Leslie Meredith, Vice President and Senior Editor, Free Press/Simon & Schuster.  Meredith is a closing plenary panelist.

In the middle of the severe beauty of the Valley of the Sun, nestled at the base of Hayden Butte, and within sight of petroglyphs and ancient technology of the Hohokam canals, CSPO has put on a stimulating forward-thinking event. I’m greatly impressed by the depth of thinking and commitment of the scientists and writers working to bring new knowledge and understandings to the world and to influence public policy to enable people to live better. The petroglyphs on the Butte depict people, animals, plants and the sun–still bearing witness to the immutable importance of our interrelationships, in the face of the passage of time, harsh weather, and the forces of ignorance and vandalism. The canals are in ruins but new ones have been developed in service to a larger population. Communication and technology, and our need to create and use them and change them–to do good and to do better–define humanity. The idea of what a book and other print media is and can be is changing physically and broadening with the emergence of ebooks, vooks, and online access, but the constant is to inform. The importance of investigation, inquiry, and original research and thinking — and communicating that through language and images will remain. Almost 90% of households in the US, reports the NYT, now have cellphones, yet voice minutes are not growing–people are using cells for communication but not voice communication: they’re browsing the Web, listening to music, watching TV, playing games, and sending texts. Hearing the communicator/writer pitches yesterday, I was fascinated by the fresh, discriminating new ways of seeing and interpreting the world and the enormous potential and talent that each team displayed. There may not be a book in every idea, but the ideas and research will find a form and a record that will last and make a difference. I’m honored that I was able to participate in this stimulating event.

About the contributor:
Leslie Meredith edits books on health, psychology, animal behavior and other popular sciences, as well as memoir, history, religion and narrative nonfiction. Formerly, she was an executive editor at Ballantine Books, editorial director at Harmony/Crown and executive editor at Bantam. She has worked with such authors as Stephen Jay Gould, Christiane Northrup, Andrew Newberg, Jean Twenge, Philip Zimbardo, Patricia McConnell, Stanley Coren, Sy Montgomery and Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

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