It would be not true to describe Ars Electronica itself as a ‘mind-transformer’; sure, there was a lot of interesting, impressive and thought-provoking (and look&feel-provoking) things there, but that all was somehow in the area of ‘normality’, within my expectation bandwidth.
What really made the event mind-transforming was the book I bought in the Frankfurt airport on my way to Linz: The Black Swan, by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. It is one of those book that soaks you in, which you start reading from page 1 and can not stop till you turn the last page. Paradoxically, there was almost nothing new in this book for me, and in fact would argue with many of his arguments (and I will, later one); yet the way he assembles all the pieces into a fascinating masterpiece is astonishing (lol, and this is the author who fights with narrative fallacy).
So, in some sense the book’s pages were my intellectual backdrop to almost everything I saw and experienced in Linz, a very weird cocktail, I have to say. I am very tempted to try reconstructing what were the exact pages I was at in the book when visiting this or that event, or listening this or that speaker (and may be even supplying the ‘shadowing quotes’ to them; we’ll see if it works).
There are numerous reviews of the book on the web already, and forums to discuss it; there are even wikipedia pages, both about the author and his ‘theory‘. As I said, it is very probable that I later return and write specifically about the ‘highly improbables’. At the moment I just to make a stab, more to color the next stories about AE08.
PS: And of course, I couldn’t resist to re-posting the picture of the books’ cover, this time with the time-stamp of today; 9/11 is mentioned in the book soooo often that I though it could make sense to glue these things somehow together.