Last Wednesday, I gave a talk at Google as part of its ongoing series of author talks. It was, of course, a pleasure and an honor. Leave it to Google to do everything right. I was very pleasantly surprised by the turnout, and delighted to see that very few people who showed up were multitasking on their laptops while I talked. In fact, they were rapt (or were making a very good show of seeming very interested).
The audience was composed of a lot of Googlers — and one young daughter of a Googler, a young pianist named Sara — who also happen to be accomplished musicians. Not surprisingly, perhaps, it turns out that there are quite a few musicians at Google (could they get a full orchestra together, I wonder? Now there’s a question worth pursuing). And their questions, again not so surprisingly, were quite technical — so technical, in fact, that one of them stumped me altogether. A software engineer who is also an avid amateur pianist said that, like Gould, he prefers a light action, and he asked if Verne did anything to the pedals. I had no clue. So, loath to try to stumble my way through an answer, I seized the moment — and my iPhone — and called Verne right then and there, and the Googler put his question to Verne directly.
Afterwards, a number of people came up to me to say how much they appreciated the sponataneous nature of the talk, especially the fact that it was PowerPointless. I said I appreciated their appreciation, and confessed that I’m actually completely hamfisted when it comes to PowerPoint, so there wasn’t much danger of my showing up with a bunch of slides to throw up on the wall.
I did, however, bring my iPod, and I used it to demonstrate the sound of Gould’s speed demon hands while playing Variation 20 of the Goldberg Variations.
Of course, Google sound and video engineers were on hand, and they put the talk up on YouTube.