A journey to discover the people who change our world.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

TED2008 is off to a galloping start.

If every there is a gathering of exceptional lives, and minds, it is at the annual TED conference held in Monterey, California each year. TED2008 is set to be no different, with over 1000 leading thinkers and doers packing out the conference hall, to hear about current topics from global development to scientific breakthrough, architectural design, the latest in technology, anthropology, psychology, and educational thought… and so much more. Interspersed between the 20 minute sessions are musical and comic interjections, ensuring that both the soul and the mind are catered for. The audience brims with interesting and interested people: filmmakers, mathematicians, engineers, writers, poets, entrepreneurs, medics. It is deliberately a wide mix of disciplines; where ideas can mingle and bodies of knowledge shared. This year’s conference theme is “The Big Questions”. Who are we? What is our place in the universe? Is beauty truth? Will evil prevail? How do we create?

But TED is more than just a conference. It is a movement to inspire inspired thinking, and it is a body of people who are committed to change. Each year TED award the TEDPrize: $100,000 and a wish to change the world, no ambitions spared. It is a lofty aim, but with the community of people in the room, and now online, the Prize has proven that great things can happen. Three prizes were awarded last year. One of them, to the biologist O.E. Wilson has enabled him to start the Encyclopaedia of Life, an online resource to catalogue, aiming to name and describe all the species on the planet. Another prize given to filmmaker Jehane Noujaim, whose wish is about to come true on May 10th this year, when people all around the world will be linked in a global day of film called Pangea Day. This year the prize goes to writer and social activist Dave Eggers, the religious writer, Karen Armstrong, and mathematician Neil Turok. There wishes will be revealed this evening, to be streamed live online (5.15pm US/ Pacific Time).

While the conference fee is high, and waiting lists long, the Web has transformed access to TED. Throughout the year talks are posted online, open to all, on the main TED site Some talks have had over 1million views since posting, creating a remarkable sense of positive ideas spreading. Alongside that, the TED blog (www.blog.ted.com) will be feeding content and comments from the 2008 proceedings and flickr providing some images here.

You have guessed it, I’m a HUGE fan. One day I would love to get to the conference, but for the moment, broadband will suffice. Thanks TED.


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