I don't really remember where I first came across the TED conference but in recent years, I've quickly become hooked on the eponymous talks and, in recent months, TED seems to be serendipitously intersecting with my career in many wonderful ways...
- Earlier this year, Lee Bryant and I nominated Professor Salim Al-Hassani to the TED Fellows programme, though sadly the Professor wasn't unable to join this year's group.
- A couple months ago, Codeworks' Herb Kim and nti Leeds' Linda Broughton asked me to produce and programme TEDx Leeds; part of a series of TEDx events taking place across the North's five great cities - Manchester, Liverpool, Sheffield, Leeds & Newcastle. We'll be announcing speakers in early August, but do contact me and nominate your favourite TED talks for screening during the evening.
- Most surprisingly, next week I've been invited to attend TED Global 2009 in Oxford. Earlier this month, Nokia, one of the conference sponsors, contacted me to offer a sponsored place at the conference. Upon enquiring why they approached me, they explained that I was 'one of the UK's top bloggers'. Um, that's slightly embarrassing, but I'm not going to argue with Wikio's rankings, however inaccurate ;)
The speakers list looks awesome, with Stephen Fry, Rory Bremner, Karen Armstrong, Stefana Broadbent, John Lloyd, Daniel Pink & Aza Raskin amongst others. Oddly, for a tech conference, delegates are discouraged from using laptops or phones during sessions; Nokia have suggested even a pen and paper might be frowned upon. It'll certainly be a novelty maintaining focus and attention for hours at a time. I couldn't even do that at university...like a laptop, I tend to fall asleep after extended periods of inactivity.
Like Foo Camp, TED is subject to accusations of elitism and exclusivity. Ironically, those are the qualities that make each gathering special. There's a kind of meritocracy at work, generally driven by achievement, but 'by-invitation-only' conferences do make me slightly uncomfortable. On the other hand, Foo's philosophy of asking invitees to select next year's group does ensure there's a constant churn of people and ideas each year. Today's Times, has a useful analysis of the culture of TED at TED conference offers ideas to change the planet - in 18 minutes.