Looking for Your McMurray Magazine? We've created something even bigger and here to check it out!

Looking for our original content? Welcome back to our original site!

Arts & Culture(Archives)


The Interview

(0 votes)

Recently, YMM Editor-in-Chief, Krista Balsom, had the opportunity to interview author, Malcolm Gladwell as part of the Fort McMurray Public Library’s “Northern Insights” speaker series. Check out his responses!

“Malcolm Gladwell seems to have penned the script for the first part of the 21st century.”  That quote, from the Globe & Mail, is heady stuff. How do you feel your work is influencing modern thinking?

I think it is a mistake for writers to try and figure out what kind of impact they are having on the world.  You can never know. And worrying about that only gets in the way of what a writer should be doing—which is trying to be as creative and challenging as possible.  That said, I think there are a group of people out there – myself among them – who are trying to open up the insights of the academic world to a broader audience.  And that’s pretty exciting, because we’re tapping into a desire on the part of the public for more sophisticated explanations for why things work the way they do.

Success is often a two-edged sword. How do you find the time to write, now that you have moved from ‘Malcolm Gladwell the writer’ to Malcolm Gladwell the brand.

It’s easier now! People actually return my calls. I can afford to have someone else transcribe my interviews.  The truth is that my life really hasn’t changed.  I still do the same things I did when I started out in journalism.  As we speak, I am sitting in the same coffee shop that I’ve worked in every morning for the past ten years. And by the way, I’m not sure that I’m a “brand.”  You are making me sound like toothpaste.

Do you have any thoughts on how the global energy crisis, if it in fact exists, can be averted?

I actually have no anxieties at all about the so-called energy crisis. My reading of human beings is that the soft stuff is the stuff that we are bad at: that’s things like treating people fairly and equally, getting along with each other, respecting each other’s differences. Technical problems, by contrast, we’re really good at solving. The energy crisis—such as it is—is a technical problem.  Thousands of incredibly smart people are working on it, as we speak. I suspect that in five or ten years we will look back on the time when we worried about the future supply of energy with disbelief.

You were known for not being active on social media:  Twitter, Facebook, and that still seems to be the case. Do you have any guilty secrets in this regard, (say a MySpace page under a pseudonym) or are you still free from these addictions?

I am free of all internet addictions! Well, almost all. I’m a big runner and have a mild addiction to watching famous track races on YouTube.

You mentioned in an interview once that if you were not on this career path you might very well have enjoyed real estate planning as living spaces interest you. Fort McMurray is in the process of reinventing itself. There is an ambitious plan in place to make this a community that attracts new business, entrepreneurs and families, acknowledging that the time to get off the one industry train we’re on is now, not when the oil runs out. Do you have any advice when it comes to city planning?

I’m going to talk a little about this when I speak. One of the things that I’ve always been struck by, in psychological research, is the insight that what people say that they want and what they really want are often miles apart. This is big issue in urban planning. What we say we want is wide open space and room to breathe and peace and order. And yet if you look at the most “successful” urban spaces, they are always the opposite of that: crowded, dense, chaotic. People pay an enormous premium to live in cities like New York or Toronto—and in the most popular parts of those cities, people are packed together like sardines. I guess my simplest prescription would be: everything needs to be much smaller and less orderly than we realize.

You were a Canadian runner of note in high school. If we comp you free entry will you come back in the summer and run the Fort McMurray marathon?

I don’t run marathons! In fact, I am the kind of runner who thinks marathoners are crazy. Let’s not forget that the first person to run a marathon—the famous courier in ancient Greece—dropped dead after delivering his message.

The local library believes it is important to showcase world literary talent to residents and to do that they are presenting the speaker series you were recently a part of in Fort McMurray. What’s your fondest memory of your childhood library, why do you think libraries are an important part of the community?

Oh my. My mother took me to the local library in Elmira Ontario once a week, every single week of my childhood. I grew up in a pretty rural area, without television. That library was my savior. I must have read hundreds of books from there. Before I ever left Elmira to see the rest of the world, I had seen already seen the world through the books in that library.

NORTHERN INSIGHTS is a speaker series brought to you by the Fort McMurray Public Library; bringing bestselling authors and journalists, educational, thought provoking, and entertaining speakers to Fort McMurray. Northern Insights will engage the community, expand our minds and capture our imaginations. Northern Insights will take place next on May 8, 2013 with the legendary comedian, actor and author Bill Cosby. Tickets can be purchased at the MacDonald Island Park Box Office.

{imageshow sl=73 sc=2 /}