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In which Hank discusses the power of stories and announces a new event happening on October 9th and 10th in Minneapolis, Minnesota. WOO!

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Good morning, John!   There's something special about humans, and this is subjectively true. Some people think that their sports team is particularly special because they know the whole history of that team and all of the intricate details of the players on it. But they don't know all those details for other teams, so they see their team as the best, most interesting, most unique thing. That's cognitive bias and that's fine. Sports, whoooo! All sports teams are equally special, meaning none of them are. But that is not true of humans, as a species. Among the immense variety of life on Earth, there are lots of organisms that are good at particular things. Like giraffes are super tall, and cheetahs and antelope are super fast. And some methanogens eukaryotes are particularly good at surviving and thriving in boiling water. But humans aren't like particularly good at certain things, one or two. We're good at all the things. We can dive into the crushing depths of the bottom of the ocean and travel faster than any other animal. We can even escape the safe little bubble of our atmosphere and not die. This uniqueness about humans is obvious. Even if it weren't true, I think we would think it. That has led a lot of people to think different things about what the thing is that makes us so exceptional. There's like, opposable thumbs that people have thought maybe, which is ridiculous cuz raccoons. Then for a while we thought that the thing that set us apart was tool use, which no because like ravens and primates and dolphins. If it's not that, then maybe it's self-awareness; maybe it's knowing that I am a thing who is me and that allows me to think differently about the world, but also, it seems like a lot of animals are also self-aware: that's not it.   Well, I've decided, and I don't know what gives me the right to do this, but I have decided that the thing that sets us apart as people, that makes us capable of air conditioning and hot showers and lunar landings and nuclear war can be summed up in one word, and that word is 'stories'. If this sounds a little froofy to you, let me remind you that there was a time before email, before phones, before newspapers, before the written word even. When humanity was first benefiting from the massive utility of passing tremendous amounts of information from generation to generation, the vehicle for the passing of that information was the story. Stories were, and I think that they still are, how we define ourselves and our culture and even our technology and science. Every human society that wants to behave differently first has to change the stories that they tell. Stories, in songs, in books, on the stage, on podcasts, around the campfire help us define who we are. We are made of stories. So when I realized we had a full time staff working on VidCon, but they had certain lull periods in their year, because VidCon only happens once a year. And those people were excited about creating another conference in a different place and a different time of the year, celebrating a different thing. I had to think: "What is a cultural institution that is as important to me, or more important to me than the institution of online video? Which is also very important to me." So I went with 'stories', which is, admittedly, broad.   So this year, 2015, on October 9th and 10th in Minneapolis, Minnesota at the Minneapolis Convention Center we will be celebrating stories at a new event called NerdCon: Stories. And yes, we are leaving the door open for maybe future NerdCon: Other Things. We'll have panels, and talks, and performances, and question and answer sessions, and a tiny little vendor room and yes: this is going to be much smaller of an affair than VidCon is. But, our special guests, at least in my book, are certainly not a step down. Hank and John Green will be there, so, there's that. We'll have fantasy authors like Pat Rothfuss, Cassandra Claire, and Holly Black and Mary Robinette Kowal, Sci-fi authors like John Scalzi and Paolo Bacigalupi, Young Adult authors, like Jacqueline Woodson and Bethany Perkins. And also lots of things that aren't books, like musicians like Kimya Dawson and Dessa Darling, shows like Welcome to Night Vale, and Wits, and Story Collider. Organizations that promote stories, and game developers, and poets, and playwrights! And this is just the beginning of our list, we have a lot of time to continue planning and adding new people to our event.    We're very excited about Nerdcon: Stories, I think it's going to be... an exceptional event. I'm basically, a little bit designing it just so I will enjoy it, let's be honest. To people who are able to come: We are expecting this event to sell out pretty quickly, cuz it's not very big, so Nerdcon.com to get tickets. For people who can't: Stories are universal, and they are everywhere, and I encourage you to participate in this culture of stories, and just to revel in the general wonderfulness and humanity of the institution of stories.   John, I will see you on Tuesday.