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Virginia Heffernan is a journalist, speaker, and author—most recently, of MAGIC AND LOSS: The Internet as Art. Since 2001, she has written for The New York Times—first as a TV critic, then as a magazine columnist, and then as an opinion writer and book critic.

From 2012 to the present, she has also covered politics for Yahoo News, the Times, and POLITICO.

Heffernan now writes for a range of publications, including Fast Company, The LA Times, The Wall Street Journal, VICE, WIRED, The Paris Review, and Quartz. She has appeared on The Open Mind, VICE TV, 20/20, Re/Code, CNBC, MSNBC, and regularly on NPR. In 2002, Heffernan received a Ph.D. in English literature from Harvard; her dissertation was on financial dynamics in American novels.

Heffernan currently serves as a contributing editor to Sunday Long Read, and a founding trustee of the Current Museum of Art. She is also the editorial director for Trail Mix Ventures, and—working with VCs—has consulted with major tech companies including PayPal, Impossible Foods, Spring and littleBits.

Heffernan has given keynote addresses at Google, The Library of Congress, WebbyConnect, The New York Public Library, Princeton, Dartmouth, Columbia, Harvard, Harvard Law School, Fritt-Ord in Oslo, The Villa Gillet in Lyon, and The National Arts Club (with Malcolm Gladwell), among many other institutions and corporations.

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Magic and Loss: The Internet as Art

Virginia Heffernan

Just as Susan Sontag did for photography and Marshall McLuhan did for television, Virginia Heffernan (called one of the “best living writers of English prose”) offers a fascinating keynote explaining the logic and aesthetics behind the Internet.

Since its inception, the Internet has morphed from merely an extension of traditional media into its own full-fledged civilization. It is among mankind’s great masterpieces—a massive work of art. As an idea, it rivals monotheism. All inhabit this fascinating place. But its deep logic, its cultural potential, and its societal impact often elude people. Life online, in the highly visual, social, portable, and global incarnation, rewards certain virtues. The new medium favors speed, accuracy, wit, prolificacy, and versatility, and its form and functions are changing how individuals perceive, experience, and understand the world.

In this entertaining, accessible, and thoughtful talk, Heffernan presents an original and far-reaching analysis of what the Internet is and does. She shows how the Internet is much more than a new technology or new business, but a ubiquitous yet seldom examined world that is profoundly changing the way you live.

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