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Here's What to Expect From Aspen

Wednesday, 27 Jun 2012 | 3:35 PM ET

This will be my first time at the Aspen Ideas Festival. In fact, it will be my first time in Aspen full-stop.

Comstock Images | Getty Images

It's hard to know what to expect from these things. On the one hand, there's an impressive roster of speakers tackling a very broad range of topics. On the other hand, there are strong hints that this thing is going bubble over with Very Smart People Agreeing With Each Other.

As a natural born contrarian, I can't stand listening to Very Smart People Agreeing.

Felix Salmon had a swell time there last year, which is part of what set off my alarm bells:

"On the strength of one opening afternoon at the Aspen Ideas Festival, I think I like it a lot. And that’s a surprise to me: I was expecting that Alpine gabfests would tend to have more similarities than differences. But this is a world away from Davos, and not just in terms of longitude or season. At Davos, everybody is self-importantly “committed to improving the state of the world”; in Aspen, the stakes are much lower, and the emphasis is on what you’re saying rather than who you are."

Not everyone is as happy with the festival. One writer, Salon's Alex Pareene, wants to nuke the entire place. Failing that, he'd like to permanently imprison the festival-goers:

"The best thing the organizers could do to solve America’s most pressing problems would probably be to encase the city of Aspen in an impenetrable dome on the last day of the festival, trapping all participants and attendees inside, forever.

"Then we can put our scientists to work on some sort of Davos-specific super-virus."

I guess we'll find out who is right.


Watch CNBC's "Closing Bell" with Maria Bartiromo live from the Aspen Ideas Festival on Thursday, June 28 and Friday, June 29.

-By CNBC's John Carney
@Carney

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