12 July 2012

TED: Ideas Worth Spreading

Photo Credit: The New Yorker, July 9-16, pages 68 - 69. Photo taken by me, VDL of purchased issue.

A couple of days ago, I read Nathan Heller's article featured in this week's issue of The New Yorker (July 9 -16, 2012) titled, Listen and Learn: TED talks reach millions around the world. How has a conference turned ideas into an industry?  I was so compelled by the backstage details behind the TED organization - so eloquently described by Mr. Heller - that I jotted down a few notes to share with you (after a few hours of additional online R&D).  
If you've ever watched those inspiring TED Talks on ted.com and have contemplated the idea of one day attending their 4-day annual conference in Long Beach, California, you will want to read this article.  As a quick preview, I invite you to browse my bubbly notes below, appropriately drawn on a very old roll of yellow trace paper from my studio days.

Were you aware that one can only attend the Long Beach TED conference by filling out an application form (not a registration form) that requests answers to essay questions and references OR by invitation only? Should TED, a nonprofit organization whose slogan is "Ideas Worth Spreading" make us feel like we're applying for a job?  I get that this is TED's way of guiding professional match-making (networking), and for those that make the cut, they get to profit from what Heller refers to as "the opulence of easy access"...(great phrase!)  I GET IT, but I can't help experience disappointment. I feel like I just discovered the "wizard" behind the curtain, and that magical appeal - for me - has lost its sparkle. Am I over reacting? Should I really be surprised?  I will continue to watch the online TED Talks of people/topics I'm curious about, but at least now, I will be doing so with a pair of informed eyes. 

Of all the people mentioned in the article, the one I find most fascinating is the founder of it all, Richard Saul Wurman (who by the way, is no longer invited to TED - Long Beach. . .read the article for the juicy details). He's launching his latest venture this September called, The WWW ConferenceFYI, the list of participants (so far) includes: Yo-Yo Ma, Frank Gehry, Moshe Safdie, Maya Lin. . .more names here.  I'm looking forward to reading reviews about this exclusively designed powwow (73 seats @ $16K each, available on a first-come-first served basis!). Check out Mr. Wurman in the video clip below. You will find him a bit eccentric, but aren't we all?. . .don't you just love his super long black scarf?

Topic No.1: Innovative Conferences, Cosmo THIS!

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