I became a John Krasinski fangirl from his first episode of SGN, Some Good News.
The show is shot from the home office of the former cast member of The Office who now plays CIA officer Jack Ryan in the show of that name on Amazon Prime. But at his own SGN, he plays the good news anchorman. With a clunky logo drawn by his daughters, this witty, sincere, heartfelt look at the bright side of this moment has Krasinski finding signs of hope and humanity from all over the globe.
He makes good things happen too. In one episode, Lin-Manuel Miranda and the cast of Hamilton showed up to serenade an adorable pre-teen Hamilton-freak. They had heard she could not attend a canceled live performance. She was overwhelmed and delighted. Next Krasinski threw a high school prom night for dressed up but shut in kids. We see them dancing with their dads, their siblings and dogs.
Krasinski’s brilliant and uplifting show is not alone. The amount of creativity and connectedness that’s sprung to life during Covid-19 is mindblowing. The Metropolitan Opera Gala usually carries an unaffordable price tag for mere mortals, but this past Saturday night’s live show of opera singers and musicians was free for anyone on the planet who could connect. Maybe that free concert will inspire some young person to become a Renee Fleming of the next generation.
A new type of high-tech busking is emerging. A big canvas that is both isolated and worldwide is taking root. Musicians are offering services like writing personal songs. (We just bought one for Mother’s Day from the wonderful Villalobos Brothers.) The Hollywood Squares-ish look of orchestras performing alone but together on Zoom or otherwise is a modern marvel of technology combined with musical prowess. Musicians like Live from Here’s Chris Thile tosses the musical baton from friend to friend in the enchanting Live from Home. A dancer from NYC is plotting out her world-wide premiere of the “Rube Goldberg Variations” where everyone is invited to participate in a worldwide movement.
Not just artists, but big industry, big tech and big government have made themselves more accessible too. I’ve been privileged to listen to speakers including Steven Levy, author of Facebook: The Inside Story here at Techonomy and look forward to more. (Click here to see all Techonomy’s past and upcoming virtual events.) Elsewhere, I’ve heard from futurists like Andrew Zolli about resilience. And in the next few days I’ve got Virtual Blockchain Week and GamesBeat Summit on my calendar. I’m spending nothing, learning everything and will be forever grateful to these folks who are broadening the horizon.
Through it all, my screen has become a “window to wonderful.” Artists and next-gen thinkers are positioning and experimenting for the world we’ll emerge into whenever the pandemic crisis calms. For the moment, almost all this content is free or sponsored, but we can imagine a time soon when we’d happily pay $20 to attend a virtual conversation or a few hundred dollars for a conference or trade show.
My personal superpower is more as an amplifier for good ideas than to be a performer. So because I’m so taken with all this great good stuff and good news, last week I launched a new website called Live and Free. It’s a calendar-based compendium of all of the amazing live events we can go to for free, virtually. We’re seeing a daily uptick in visitors as word gets out. We’re working frantically to automate and make the site more usable. I’ve got some time on my hands because the virus caught me betwixt and between. I had just sold my own events company and needed a reason to feel somewhat essential at this moment in history. For me, Live and Free is like a ouroboros–the snake that eats its own tail. By highlighting the best, we amplify great creators and their livelihoods, leading, we hope, to even more. At the same time we feed the minds of visitors looking for hope and new ideas. What are you doing to help ignite the best of us during this moment? Let us know and we’ll put you up on the big board of things we can all look forward to.