In a museum of Etruscan artifacts in Cortona, Italy, I was struck by an exhibit that explained the word symposium comes from the Etruscan practice (we’re talking 7th Century, BC here) of gathering people to have a conversation about something important. It gave testimony, said the exhibit, to the need for a leader to reinforce the community of consensus on an issue, critical to the retention of the leader’s power. Hmmm. How does that relate to the way we use symposiums (or is it symposia) today? Those I’ve gone to often feel like a lot of yammering on a topic that doesn’t get resolved.