Last Saturday, I had the privilege of attending TEDxSMU (thanks to a generous, unexpected gift from a First Friday Book Synopsis regular. Thanks, Dan). It was our “local” version of the TED conference, held each spring, and now viewed by millions (literally! millions!) of people online. Click here – (a good place to start – with the “most viewed”). But, trust me, there are so many great presentations.
This year, for the first time, they are awarding the TED Prize not to a person, but to an idea — the City 2.0. From their announcement:
About the TED Prize
The TED Prize is designed to leverage the TED community’s exceptional array of talent and resources. It is awarded annually to an exceptional individual who receives $100,000 and, much more important, “One Wish to Change the World.” After several months of preparation, s/he unveils his/her wish at an award ceremony held during the TED Conference. These wishes have led to collaborative initiatives with far-reaching impact.
We work closely with the TED community, off- and online, to obtain pledges of support for the TED Prize winners. These pledges can take the form of business services, hardware and software, publicity, infrastructure, advice, connections, feet on the ground and more. This is in addition to the funding and support from the Sapling Foundation and TED staff.
TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from those three worlds. Since then its scope has become ever broader.
The TED Conference, held annually in the spring, is the heart of TED. More than a thousand people now attend, the event sells out a year in advance, and the content has expanded to include science, business, the arts and the global issues facing our world. Over four days, 50 speakers each take an 18-minute slot, and there are many shorter pieces of content, including music, performance and comedy. There are no breakout groups. Everyone shares the same experience. It shouldn’t work, but it does. It works because all of knowledge is connected. Every so often it makes sense to emerge from the trenches we dig for a living, and ascend to a 30,000-foot view, where we see, to our astonishment, an intricately interconnected whole.
Notice this phrase:
It shouldn’t work, but it does. It works because all of knowledge is connected.
Yes, all knowledge is connected, and there are people who are champions of connecting people to that knowledge. Here in Dallas, we can point to Carole and Jim Young. Regulars at, and cheerleaders for, our First Friday Book Synopsis, they sat on the floor at lunch with their “Carole and Jim Young Fellows” at the TEDxSMU conference. I sat with them, and was immersed in stimulating conversation with two very sharp young minds. (Read about this, and the remarkable group, here). What an impressive, solid group of young adults. (And there are rumors that Jim and Carole hosted a few of these folks, and shared their well-stocked freezer full of ice cream. I’ve also heard rumors that the ice cream is Graeter’s. Now this is how people get spoiled!)
But TED is all about the learning, and the networking, and you will find few lifelong learners, or few connectors, to rival Carole and Jim Young. Their commitment to this life long quest, to keep learning, is clearly what drives them to be involved in such efforts as TED. (By the way, their daughter, Kelly Stoetzel, served as host, and serves as the TED Content Director).
As for the conference itself, well, it was a wonder. Wonderful presentations, great music, terrific networking.
Yes, TED is a place for you, and me, to learn so much. I am still amazed when I run into people who have not yet discovered the videos from the TED site. So, if you are one of those, head on over. There are many I could recommend as your “first’ video, but at this moment it is this one, by Chris Anderson, the curator of TED:
Chris Anderson: How web video powers global innovation
There is so much to learn, and the resources are waiting for us all.