It was a beautiful day and I spent most of it in our garden, cleaning up the jungle. I won’t bore you with what every gardener knows about the benefits of gardening. But I also profited from my labours by listening to the radio and hence to a fascinating debate, broadcast on BBC Radio 4 from the Aspen Festival of Ideas in the USA. What effect does digital technology have on how we think, live and learn? Should we worry about creating virtual echo chambers where we only hear what we want? Or should we celebrate the increased interconnectivity the internet brings? The BBC’s Bridget Kendall chaired a panel composed of the following. Joi Ito, Director of the MIT media lab and a leading writer on innovation, global technology policy, and the role of the internet in transforming society in substantial and positive ways. He argued that the internet enables decentralized innovation, a type of openness which in turn is shaping approaches in science and education. Mike Gallagher, president and CEO of the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), the trade association representing U.S. computer and video game publishers. He argued that we can achieve connectedness and empathy through game play and that playing digital games are another way of forming communities. Lastly, Julie Taymor, a filmmaker and innovative theatre director who turned the animated film The Lion King into a big theatrical hit. She cautioned about the limiting power of two dimensional screens and argued for the irreplaceable immediacy of the real. The panel was agreed that the genie is out of the bottle and impossible to put back in. Joi Ito’s upbeat optimism about the capacity for society to master the internet’s downsides without undemocratic measures was interesting. He gave the example of spam, which is now, it is true, far less of a problem than it ever used to be – a reduction achieved without legislation, he pointed out. Also striking, to somebody working on a daily basis with many languages, was Mike Gallagher’s confident belief that in the very near future simultaneous electronic interpretation will open the world up in ways we haven’t even begun to think about yet. Well worth a listen.