Thursday, 17 May 2007

TED Conference: Edge Experience

BACK TO THE FUTURE: The genesis of the “New Zealand as Edge” metaphor was a conversation started at the TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) conference in California in 1996 with Kevin Kelly, then founding editor of Wired magazine, about biological constructs aka change in the species always starts at the margins, the fringes, the edges. Recently I have been been back in Monterey for my 10th TED and been boggled as usual by the range of presenters, from economists, demographers, architects, photographers, designers, space scientists, geeks, VCs, surgeons and singers. TED is like drinking from a firehose. Presenters included French designer Philippe Starck, physicist Murray Gell-Mann, biologist EO Wilson ("the Ant man"), basketball hero Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, singers Paul Simon and Tracy Chapman, bashful tycoon Richard Branson and passionate novelist Isabel Allende. President Bill Clinton was an experience in itself but even he bowed to the humility of war correspondent and photojournalist James Natchwey. Keynotes are 18 minutes, shorts are 3 mins – Sam Morgan presented a new design for dispensing pain relief medicine which can save lives the world over. TED aims to improve the world. TED can be for everyone, see the inspirational and sometimes world-changing presentations at See especially the presentation by Hans Rosling at the 2006 conference, it will change your world view of what is happening and what is possible. TED is billed as "Ideas worth spreading" as the conference assembles the "world's greatest thinkers and doers." I first went in 1994 after discovering the information architect Richard Saul Wurman, who created and owned the conference, and whose thinking and methods have been a major influence on my work. Chris Anderson now owns, curates, convenes, chairs and cajoles, and he has beautifully segued the original vision into a working/achieving movement. For me TED has been life-changing in terms of seeing ideas up close from the folk who had them. I don't have on my CV "invented the PC", but chances are the person standing next to you in Monterey did. The proximate location to Silicon Valley has always ensured cutting edge technology breakthroughs have been shown, but today's most important science - biology - is at its core - together with a rambunctious and irresistible humanity that has people constantly on their feet. My notes (50 speakers, 6 pages) on the 2007 meeting are at

1 comment:

Jason Kemp said...

Who would have thought drinking from a firehose was so much fun!

I have watched 20+ videos (sometimes have to lie down after one or two!) off TED now and agree with Brian that Hans Roslings presentation is a must see.

For a quick way to the Hans Rosling video go to this link