Collective intelligence of the internet is too often sullied by a collective unintelligence, the tendency of people to shoot off unconsidered and ignorant reactions, encouraged by the instant nature of the medium and the cloak of anonymity it gives the user. Public discourse, as witnessed at a literary festival, is a completely different kettle of fish. To start with, experts speak to experts, writers to writers, all of them on a subject they know well, and have worked on for years. The level of conversation and debate, therefore, is at a pretty high level. Interaction with the audience is also well-informed, simply because the people who attend litfests are generally well read, and attend particular sessions because they have a special interest in that subject. The intellectual stimulation that participants and audience derive from a literary festival, not only acts as a spur to further intellectual growth, but it also acts as a catalyst to strike off on diverse and often unplanned intellectual paths.