In 1984, Richard Saul Wurman collected some of the brightest stars in Technology, Entertainment, and Design for a conference in Monterey, California. The Macintosh computer was introduced at that conference. So was Sony’s new method for storing and distributing audio: the compact disc. Benoit Mandebrot explained how he uses fractal geometry to map coastlines.
Six years later, the TED conference became a regular event. The roster of speakers expanded to include scientists, philosophers, musicians, and others. TED speakers have included Bill Gates, Frank Gehry, Jane Goodall, Billy Graham, Herbie Hancock, and Larry Ellison.
This year, TED will put “fifty remarkable people” on stage and let them share whatever they are passionate about. I’m probably not going to be there. For one thing, it starts tomorrow. Then, there’s the fact that it costs $4,400 to attend, and you have to be invited. Sure, it’s not impossible to get an invitation, and there are educational discounts, but I have a feeling my school district still isn’t going to be willing to foot the bill.
Thanks to sponsorship by BMW and a partnership with WNYC/New York Public Radio, Ted Talks are available online. Each week, they release at least one new talk in both audio and video formats. At the moment, there are sixty-four talks online. You can watch Rick Warren, author of The Purpose-Driven Life, talking about his book. Then, you can watch Tufts philosophy professor Dan Dennett respond to the presentation, taking issue with claims in the book. Or, watch Richard St. John explain the secrets of success in three minutes. Astronomer Sir Martin Rees urges 21st century scientists to provide the moral compass that will guide wise societal decisions. Charles Leadbeater argues that the open-source movement has allowed everyone to become an inventor.
You’ve read enough. Go watch them. Or download the audio and listen to them on your mp3 player.