The elephants in the room at TED

Larry Page says hi, we say thanks for the phone!

First, let’s get the elephant out of the way so we can talk about more important things. What is the elephant? No, it’s not Larry Page, co-founder of Google, seen above waving to the audience at TED after he gave them all a free Nexus One.

So, what is the elephant? That TED costs $6,000 and is hard to get into (next year’s TED is already sold out, for instance). They never give away more than 15 press passes, too, which means that most of the world’s press corp can’t get in. This always pisses off people, just as it did to Sarah Lacy, writer at TechCrunch.

I don’t have $6,000 and I doubt I’ll get invited next year for free and, even if I could gather $6,000, it’s sold out for next year anyway.

Freaking elitists!

But, let’s take the elephant head on: rich people can afford things you and I can’t. I can’t afford a Ferrari either. Even though I definitely appreciate them. I can’t afford a private plane, even though when I’ve gotten a ride in one I’ve always appreciated them and can see why I’d want one. I can’t afford an original Ansel Adams’ print, either, even though I am a huge fan and would love to have one.

So, let’s turn it around. You should know that in 2008 I took a similar stance to Sarah’s. That TED is unattainable for most people, and that it’s a closed society, etc. What did I do about it? I went to BIL, a free event that goes on at TED. I will attend that again next year because I seriously doubt that I’ll be able to get into TED. But I am trying to go one further, I will try to get the money together to buy BIL a video feed from inside TED.

But since attending I’ve changed my stance from the one I had in 2008. What is the one now? Jealous people should just keep their mouths shut. And I’ll include me in that stance.

Truth is, TED has opened up its content to the world. More than 500 talks have now been shared on TED Talks.

On the TED stage I saw that they had hundreds of events where the live feed was broadcast, including many into Silicon Valley (several VCs and entrepreneurs invited me to view TED with them at their houses, or work offices). Rackspace bought the feed too and lots of my coworkers were talking with me about the talks. So, getting access to the content might not be attainable by everyone in real time, but is certainly attainable eventually by everyone.

The funny thing is just a couple of weeks ago Sarah Lacy was at an exclusive venture capital event in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. I wasn’t invited. Neither were you, probably. Did she disclose the elitism of this event? No way. Does she disclose all the closed parties or events she gets invited to that me and you don’t get invited to? No way. One rule of closed parties is you don’t Tweet about them or you don’t get invited back.

I assume I won’t get invited to TED next year and that this year I won the lottery and next year, well, the lottery won’t strike twice. So, that gives me a sort of mental freedom to tell you what I really think of this event.

But here’s the rub: I will be at TED next year if I am alive. And the year after that. And the year after that. I will pay for it and get there somehow.

Why? It was the most incredible event I’ve ever attended. By far.

What makes TED TED? Well, for one, it’s TED because Sarah wasn’t there (and I won’t be there next year because I didn’t pay the $6,000 in time). Its elitism and expense IS part of why TED is magical and if you ever get to go, either because you have the money to attend, or because somehow you won the lottery like I did and you go to go you’ll see that it is magical, in the same way that James Cameron shared with us that visiting the Titanic for real is magical (he did just that). Damn elitists. Having experiences I can’t have.

TED should be PROUD of the elephant in the room. It should embrace it far more than they do. The attendees there should celebrate it and run with it. Many do. One VC told me as we were leaving yesterday that the expense not only makes networking world class but that it ensures that people actually attend and listen to the lectures. Want proof? Look at the notes that these rich people took. I’ve never seen notes like these at any other event. After all, rich people can have parties with other rich people anytime they want. But TED isn’t like any rich guy party I’ve ever been to and I’ve been fortunate enough to be at more than my fair share (heck, remember, I live right by the Half Moon Bay Ritz which is a rich-guy party every night of the year. I can’t afford to stay there either).

Nina's most excellent TED notes

Those notes are from Nina Khosla, design student at Stanford. Does that name sound familiar? It should, her dad is famous VC Vinod Khosla. She shares her notes with the world on her website, by the way. I interviewed her about her notes and some other things and you can listen to that on Cinch.

Dance at TED with LXD

What is TED? It’s a celebration of human performance. On the TED stage we saw some of the best scientists the world has ever known. Some of the best dancers (you’ll see them on stage at the Oscars, by the way, don’t miss them). Some of the best musicians. Some of the best entrepreneurs. Some of the best children. Some of the best politicians.

It is one event where you not only get to see them on stage, and if you watch TED Talks you know what that’s about, but you get to meet them in the hallways and talk with them. A couple of days ago I talked with Bill Gates about his ideas for nuclear energy. Controversial yes, but the guy does his homework and knows more on the topic of energy than anyone else I’ve ever met.

It is a celebration of learning. Learning means pushing yourself beyond where you are today. Yesterday we heard a story from a girl who has been told she has three years to live. What is she doing? Going to school and she explained why in a way that brought a tear to many eyes around the world. She wasn’t even at Long Beach, but was attending the sessions in Palm Springs, which is where there was a video feed and a separate set of talks. Proves you didn’t need to go to TED to go to TED and that TED doesn’t cost $6,000 for everyone, you can see it in Palm Springs for less, or in a video feed for even less.

But the $6,000 everyone pays helps in ways you can’t really understand unless you go. First, the stage is hand built. During some talks my mind got a little bored (not every talk is interesting, one talk about spiders didn’t have the famous TED payoff and I found myself back in Chemistry class, learning stuff I probably will never use so my mind went elsewhere). My eyes started wandering around the stage. I looked at this stage for two days before I noticed a little model airplane hanging from the top. Did you see the stack of National Geographics at the front left? Or the microscope at the front right? Those details don’t sound important, but they weave together a fabric that encourages your mind to explore new ideas.

Blow this photo up that I shot of James Cameron. Now look at just some of the weird stuff they put around the stage.

James Cameron

You might think that doesn’t matter, but it does. It’s a fabric that encourages your mind to absorb and synthesize the ideas discussed. But it does more than that. It makes being at TED an ultra-HD experience. One that you can’t really get from the TED Talks, although even in video you notice a visual richness that’s just not there in other conferences. It’s the details and the details cost money.

Second, it helps in bringing speakers from around the world. Third it helps in hiring world class video teams so you can watch them for free at home. Fourth it helps in details, which makes this a remarkable event, one unlike any other I’ve attended.

Details like the food. Details like the badges, which are the best in the business. Details like the sound system, which was most excellent and contrasts with the sound in most other conferences (I sat in both the front row and the back and it was awesome).

Details like the exhibits strewn around the conference hallways.

I could go on and on.

Sarah Silverman

OK, let’s take on another elephant in the room. The Sarah Silverman talk, which Techcrunch also wrote about (interesting that they write so much about TED). She used the word penis and retarded a lot. I thought her talk both failed and succeeded, but not because of that.

I thought it was brilliant of TED to invite some speakers on stage that were very risky. Silverman wasn’t the only one. In the closing talk Ze Frank asked whether what the world really needed was penis-flavored condoms. Other speakers talked frankly about sex, or showed graphic images that would challenge any audience.

Silverman succeeded because her talk was a science experiment, albeit one of trying something out on a much different audience than she usually gets to perform in front of. TED is all about trying out ideas and seeing which ones are the best and hearing from the people who do the best experiments, from dance to algorithms. Silverman is the best at her craft alive today. Or certainly in the top .001%.

It was why she was on the TED stage. She used that opportunity to try to challenge the audience. That was successful and I hope TED invites her again to perform another one of her experiments on stage.

But it failed too. I found her talk repulsive and challenging. I was in the second row. I actually was one of those who called for her to come back out on stage, although I knew that she had challenged the audience in a way that would be viewed as a failure. She challenged me quite a bit with her experiment. It wasn’t until later that I discovered that Chris Anderson, the guy who runs TED, had said she was “god-awful” on Twitter (he now has removed that tweet).

I didn’t have a chance to discuss that talk with Chris, but I would say that he was wrong and right. He was right that her talk wasn’t up to the usual TED quality but that she represented the best of what TED is: science experiments in human living.

See, science experiments RARELY succeed. Thomas Edison said that you know him for his successes, but that if you really knew him you’d see his thousands of failures.

TED needs more Sarah Silvermans who will try content experiments out on stage. I hope it doesn’t become some conservative organization that only lets safe people and safe ideas on stage.

If I talked with Sarah Silverman, though, I would have encouraged her to attend a TED before she talked (I heard she was only there for that morning). If she had, I’m sure she would have tried a different experiment on this particular audience than the one she attempted.

Anyway, so many ideas challenged me and inspired me over the past few days. Already a couple of the videos have come out, here’s those:

Jamie Oliver’s TED Prize wish: Teach every child about food — Sharing powerful stories from his anti-obesity project in Huntington, W. Va., TED Prize winner Jamie Oliver makes the case for an all-out assault on our ignorance of food. (This was my favorite talk of the event).

Augmented-reality maps: Blaise Aguera y Arcas on TED.com — In a demo that drew gasps at TED2010, Blaise Aguera y Arcas demos new augmented-reality mapping technology from Microsoft. (Recorded at TED2010, February 2010 in Long Beach, CA. Duration: 8:14)

My favorite part of TED was PUBLIC, though. It was the afterparty at the Westin. Check this video out of that party:

So, to wrap this up, don’t be jealous, let’s figure out how to get more of you into TED.

UPDATE: I totally forgot the work that the Sapling foundation, which supports the TEDx prize, does to support science around the world too. Glad that Stephen Collins reminded me of that. Oh, and many of the attendees actually pay more than $6,000 because they want to support the foundation’s work in a deeper way.

Comments

  1. Like you, Robert, I'm not a person that easily affords to go to TED.

    I went to the satellite at Palm Springs last year (after waiting two years to get a free slot), but couldn't afford to this year (so I paid for the video feed). Travel from Australia, where I live, makes any trip to a US conference a US$10K proposition, let alone something like TED, which even at Palm Springs is still US$3750 + air fare + hotel + expenses.

    Scrimp, save and miss out during the year to afford it. And try to go next year, to Palm Springs. It's the same TED, but very different. The crowd are much tighter with each other. Very much a big family. I hope I'll see you there and get to know you better (we actually met briefly in SF in June 2007).

    The other thing you didn't mention was, that in spite of the TED ticket price, much of that price actually goes to the work of the Sapling Foundation, which funds the TED Prize and things such as the TED Fellows program. I understand it's something like half the ticket.

  2. Excellent post Robert. TED is one of those things that I plan to attend before I kick the bucket.

    Anyone who has ever swam through the plethora of videos they have published over the years would see that there is much more than “Elistist” pats on the backside happening out there. I cannot think of another event of its kind anywhere in the world, but hey… maybe that's just me?

    Your article was a great reflection of your experience. I have been enjoying your photos immensely over the last few days.

    I am curious… with all the celebrity and high caliber folks out there like Bill Gates, James Cameron, and others… how accessible were those folks to talking, shaking hands, etc?

  3. I don't believe that Meg Ryan, John Cusak, Glenn Close or Arianna Huffington pay anything–I just don't.

  4. Okay, right here, I'm announcing next year concurrent with TED (Technology, Education, and Design) will be a totally new amazing conference experience TARD (Technology, Arts, Research, and Design). The TARD conference will cost $12,000 to attend but the whole thing will be streamed live over UStream, Justin, and Livestream. So you can kind of guess what you would have to be to actually PAY to attend. It will feature the most innovative ideas in all of these fields that were done on a shoestring and you get bonus points if duct tape was involved somehow and if you can't afford present there you can do it via Skype. If there are any VC angels out there that would like to help fund it. Twitter me, you know my name.

  5. You never know when your time to come will be. One of the speakers learned at Christmas that she has less than three years to live due to a brain cancer. Gave one of the more inspirational speeches.

  6. Actually, most of the celebrities told me they paid more than $6,000 to support the TED Foundation. Everyone I talked with told me they paid. Some were actually mad that I got in for free. I probably would have been mad too.

  7. Translation: Cool beans, ok so, yes, everyone is a narcissistic personality disorder with money, but it's cool because I am here. Last year I hated them all. Now I love them. Best people in the world. Best. people. ever. And I am among them. Yes. Yes. I will continue to be here, next year and forever. All you naysayers are just jealous haters, nah nah nah. Long live the self-appointed New Monarchy. All hail conspicuous consumption. Look at me. Hey, they webcast the dullness to everyone. You can be here, without being here, via the magical new technology called video. Hey, did I mention I am here? Oh name drop here, name drop there, *I* talked with this VIP about nuclear-powered tinker-toys, and that person about the future of the world. Wheee. I mean Bill Gates ain't gonna talk with people from Peoria or the sorry likes of you. And the countless train-wrecks here are really, ummm, science experiments, yes, that's it. Rich people take better notes than you miserable worthless excuses of common folk, nah nah. Being a journalism school drop-out gets you far.

  8. Ah, good to hear – I thought you were implying you had heard news like that.
    I agree – we should live every day as though it's our last. The world
    would be a much better place if everyone did that. You never know. Great
    coverage Robert! My favorite conferences are the ones I can go and learn
    from successful people like that, be inspired, and gain the connections to
    become a better person. As soon as I can afford it I will definitely attend
    TED, and I agree – the prices should remain high. That's how a conference
    like that changes the world.

  9. I wouldn’t walk across the street to listen attend the Penis, Condom, Graphic Sex ridden Angst reeking from TYRD.

  10. As someone who watches TED from the sidelines, I have to say that though its high cost (even higher for 2011 -ouch!) runs the risk of keeping TED too homogeneous for true cross pollinating between cultures and disciplines, the continued effort to broadcast TED content quickly after (and sometimes even during) the conference keeps the conference beyond reproach. Jamie Oliver's was not the only TED2010 talk on the website prior to the end of the conference. I happened to be in Long Beach these past few days, providing support for my own beloved TEDster, and though I did not attend the exclusive parties or get to see the content live, keeping track of the Twitter stream and experiencing the energy of such a magical consortium of brilliant minds was a huge gift. Plus I was fortunate enough to be in the Westin when Jake Shimabukoro and Natalie Merchant shared the lobby with The LXD. It was an incredible TED moment, and it was right out there in the open. I do miss the days of Monterey, when the conference was closer to 800 attendees instead of nearly
    double that now; when you could walk into the Crown and Anchor and have a pint with these mavericks in town to perform or talk about their ideas. I did hear that one complaint from several TEDsters… There is a magic number for this sort of salon to work and 1500 may be too big to allow attendees to really soak up oneanother's presence. But everyone should be appreciative of how transparent TED has become. No whining! Just wait a week for the content. Having such a magnificent repository of knowledge on one extraordinary website is worth far more than the cost of a TED ticket.

  11. Extremely accessible. I had dinner with Craig Mundie, head of strategy for Microsoft, and at the next table was Meg Ryan. Both hung out talking with people in the hallways, same with Bill Gates, etc. Cameron was only there for his talk, though, that I could see.

  12. Intimacy is important to events and this one is pretty large, but it felt pretty intimate to me as well. Maybe that comes from sitting next to Larry Page (by chance, by the way, we both had to run to get our seats in the front row) or maybe that comes from the dozens of people I met out by the coffee bar. I heard that the touches that were put in place this year brought back some of the intimacy from the Monterey venue, but I hear old timers pine back to those earlier, simpler, more intimate times. No one said they would not come next year, though, which shows that even at this larger size something is working and working remarkably well.

  13. “Craig Mundie, head of strategy for Microsoft”?

    buhahahha… that's one of the funniest things I have read in a while.

    If I'd be Balmer I'd sack this guy on the spot… Smartphone strategy… fail, Search strategy… mostly fail, tablet strategy… fail, media strategy… fail… Microsoft doesn't seem to have a clue when it comes to strategy. Their only strategy is to keep milking their Windows/ Office cash cow while bad mouthing any competitors product.

  14. Ten TEDS of 20TEN

    I am a smart scientist. My loony experiment is vital to the future of the world. Please fund me. Pretty please.
    I am a neurotic celebrity chef. Teach every child about food. You need it or you will die. Let's set up a Foundation.
    I am a dirty joke comedian. Laugh. Please.
    I am a random celebrity on some guilt-trip mission. Be aware and contribute.
    I am the best at what I do, the organizers say so. Worship me. And call my booking agent.
    I am rich beyond your dreams. Be interested in my vision for remaking the world in MY image. I demand full attention.
    I am some neo-Communist progressive politico. Let's put the tech into tyranny.
    I am some smug R&D guy, check out this impressive snazzy demo. Ohhh and ahhh please.
    I am some indie musician, artist or filmmaker, that the organizers want to cast the deck with. Grovel at my feet.
    I am a crackpot futurist. But only *I* have seen the crystal ball.

      1. Don’t forget, you are also a cheapskate who wouldn’t pay $6000 for the original manuscript of Macbeth.

  15. Robert, I am grateful for sharing your take-aways with us, even tough I am sure that most of them can't be expressed by words…(bonds, emotions, life transforming chats with strangers or even elephants, etc.)
    Thanks for pointing out Nina, I have already sent her a message on FB;-) >>>there might be new creative connection born, thanks to your post;-)
    Atmosphere and energy, just from the after-party video, seems to be super cool as well.
    And hey, guys nothing stops us from spreading such positive vibes into our non-TED world, communities and world around us. And we can create environment which will be “elephant friendly”, as I can sense many baby elephants out there growing and waiting for their time to come;-)
    cheers from Slovakia
    i.

  16. Robert

    TED will decrease in its potency the more there are more attendees.

    The power of it *is* that it is exclusive and elitist – reserved for people doing spectacular things – and linking those people together. When you start putting too many people into the room, you begin reducing the time to cultivate deep relationships. Twitter is for wide reach. TED is for depth.

    So what I'm working on providing a platform to make ideas from great people accessible. Yes, shameless self promotion, but let's talk about it, because I think it raises an important point

    In just under 2 weeks I have 30 incredible speakers coming to Exeter, UK – including guys like Chris Brogan and John Bell from Ogilvy – as well as many, many unknown but incredible people doing incredible things in different industries and sectors. (http://www.wearelikeminds.com)

    It costs about $70 to attend for the day. It's not a conference – the whole thing is an experience – just on a far smaller scale. We promote charity, award donations, and really get the local community involved. We also focus on getting Uni Students as well teenagers from deprived areas along to inspire them and tie them into the other workshop activities around the main event to help them make the ideas that they have actually HAPPEN.

    I don't think we need more people to be at TED. We need more inspiration – and actualisation – happening in areas where there isn't any.

    I'd love to go to TED. I would. But I far prefer knowing I can provide a degree of the inspiration in my community that I know will never get to go to TED otherwise.

  17. True – you gather a group of this caliber and no one will say no to a next time. But there is a point at which not being able to run into someone more than once for the duration of a conference, hinders one's ability to immerse in the exchange. And immersion is what helps germinate the seeds born of TED's interdisciplinary bent. So here's to more exclusivity at TED!

    Besides, there's always TEDx! TEDx conferences are cropping up all over the world – and they are supposed to be free, though I heard TEDx SF was charging (at one point, at least). TEDx may dilute the brand on some level, as speakers are not put through the same vetting process, but reviving the tradition of a salon is an excellent idea – one truly worth spreading.

  18. I am an aging hippie girl who was left a lot of money by my parents and want to relive Woodstock without the mud.

  19. Hey Robert,

    It was GREAT to finally meet you in person at TED. To be honest, I don't consider myself rich… not even close, but when I look at other conferences (take Web 2.0 Expo), the cost (with workshops) is about $2500. And, it doesn't last as long as TED and that doesn't include all meals, parties at night, etc… (and I'll bet the conference bag is not quite as nice ;). Also – and I don't mean them any offense – the calibre of the event (speakers, hotel, etc…) is not even comparable. Conferences now cost anywhere between $1500 – $4000 without blinking. Personally, I choose one TED instead of three other conferences each year because it makes more economical sense (SXSW is $1225 for the Platinum badge and that includes NOTHING but attendance – no parties, no food, etc…).

    Is TED expensive? It depends on what you compare it to (and what you get out of the event). Once you register and become a member, all of the money does go to the Sapling Foundation, which is also a tax deduction as a charitable contribution.

    Bottom line, you do get what you pay for in life. It’s fine for people to criticize without attending and being able to truly gauge the value, but my guess is that their perception would change dramatically after the experience. To me, TED is priceless (seriously).

    Ultimately, and I think you experienced this first hand, the TED talks are really only a fraction of the complete TED experience. Sadly, most people simply base the dollar amount on what they see online. Truth is, based on the quality of speakers alone… it’s still worth it. My two cents.

  20. I've been wanting to attend TED as well. Periodically, I visit YouTube to catch some of the talks. Last one I saw was of Tony Robbins and it was great. Yes, I would agree, it does seem elitist but that wouldn't deter me from buying a ticket…

  21. At this time I cannot afford to attend either, but if I had the money, I imagine the experience would be well worth it. It is certainly one of my aspirations.

    Your post gave me a view into this experience from a human perspective and not the typical “elistist” talk you normally read about TED. Thank you for sharing it with us!

  22. Any reason why TEd seems to be so… um… White? From past attendees that I've talked to that seems to be a consistent thing, that no matter how much money you have or status, it seems to be very much a white male/white female. What few folks of color at TED seems to be international in origin.

    As person of color in the social media/tech/marketing spaces, i find this to be common trend at conferences. Any thoughts on this? Anyone?

  23. I have never been to TED, but I really enjoy watching their videoed talks online. I am happy with them charging whatever they like.

    However, the danger is people like the VC you mentioned who believe that the $6k makes networking “world class.” It is one thing to not include poor people, it is another to believe that they are unworthy of your attention. The danger is not in the cost, it is in the mindset of “us and them,” that this is a time for “us to network,” as if wealth is the true sign of success. Again, the money is not the issue, the question I think is, “what mindset is being encouraged?”

    I have never been to TED and do not know of course how many people think like the VC you mentioned, but this is potentially the true elephant in the room.

    1. Well, there was a wide range of economic people in the room and around the world, but, let’s be honest, the networking there WAS better because of the amount of money represented in the room. I met many many CEOs that I would never have been able to meet in any other context. And, sorry, for my business networking with rich people is far better than networking with other economic groups. That is elitist but it also is true. I can network with the poor in the street, or by volunteering my time at the Food Bank that I do from time to time, I don’t need an event for that. By the way, many of the speakers weren’t rich. At least not with money (they all were rich in spirit).

  24. Well, there was a wide range of economic people in the room and around the world, but, let's be honest, the networking there WAS better because of the amount of money represented in the room. I met many many CEOs that I would never have been able to meet in any other context. And, sorry, for my business networking with rich people is far better than networking with other economic groups. That is elitist but it also is true. I can network with the poor in the street, or by volunteering my time at the Food Bank that I do from time to time, I don't need an event for that. By the way, many of the speakers weren't rich. At least not with money (they all were rich in spirit).

  25. I think we have live through a time of this earth, where people expect great things from nothing, and I find that we slowly come back out of it. I find myself paying for more services and apps online. At one point you simply can't feed your family on Karma anymore, and google adwords only gets you so far (is it only me or is a new generation of kids growing up right now that does not cares and responds about those ads anymore?). I'm proud to know that when I pay for things that people can actually focus their full attention on the product and make it better. I'm also proud to know that because of that whoever offers up great services, can go home at night and enjoy a quite night with their family. On the flip side, I'm also trying very hard to provide products/service to people that people think are worth to pay for. It holds me accountable and makes me proud to see that people think my stuff is worth their money.

    Scoble, I think your strategy to attend TED is great, but I'm not sure if I will ever make it. I will try my hardest to deliver greatness to this world, and maybe some day, people will pay attention to it. This will be more like bonus to me than a goal.

    I really like this saying and I remind myself of it often: “Money is not the goal, it is the byproduct of hard work!” (did that come from a TED talk? Quite possible).

    Cheers, Hans

  26. I love TED, and I love those elitist people that pay $6,000.00 to attend TED. Because if they didn’t, the rest of us, would not have the privilege of watching all those great FREE videos. So, it isn’t a big deal if everyone can’t afford to go (although I would love to), but if those $6,000.00 tickets helps all of us gain access to fantastic content; then, so be it.

  27. The world is clearly not fair. I am sitting here typing on a computer connected to the Internet that billions of other people cannot. I also drink clean water, have food to eat, etc.

    However, I know people want to network, but it seems “that” they can network is secondary, primary is “what are you networking for?” Is it so rich people can get richer, is it to change the system, or something else? (Many would argue that rich people getting together to network and try to make each other richer “is” the problem)

    If it is to change the system, I am not sure that getting people together who can afford $6k and letting them network is going to do it. Have a party and enjoy yourself … celebrate … but change the fundamentals of society … I am somewhat doubtful. I do enjoy listening to the TED talks online and applaud them for making them reachable to so many people.

    I think TED is making an overall very positive impact on society. I am just not sure that the real shift in our world is going to come from getting several thousand people who can afford $6k to listen to talks and network together … to me this is more likely to happen when there is communication and engagement from various sections of society. But it is great that TED does it part … as long as they see it as a small part, and not spend too much time patting each other on the back.

  28. Not sure what to think of this Robert. Last year it was horrible and elitist – this year because you were included, it's wonderful and elitist.

    Ever since I followed Loic's link to this I've been pondering it.

    Do I believe TED is an awesome experience for the attendees? Yes.
    Do I believe the cost is justifiable? Yes.
    Do I believe that it would be something worth going to if I had the option? Yes.

    But…
    Do I think the elitism is what makes it good? No.
    Do I think that an invitation only event is something that will change the world? No.
    Would I spend the $6k if I had it AND were invited? No.

    Those last 3 are the things that have made me spend awhile trying to figure out how to respond here.
    You see, ever since I started following the TED stuff (this is year 4 of my own awareness of it) I've been a little envious of those who attended. What great minds! What great speakers! What great ideas!

    But the likelihood that if I *had* a spare $6k lying around to spend on it that I would ever get to attend? Slim.

    And that reminds me of something you said to me in Boulder in August – to paraphrase it to apply to this situation 'the difference between those whining about not being included and those being included is that the second type show up.'
    So here's the thing with the elitism bit… I don't have the option to show up.

    So if for some reason I find myself rolling in “discretionary cash” of the level that would let me go to TED? I'm more likely to spend it to get a seat at the World Series of Poker. See, $10k will get me a seat whether or not I'm on someone's list of “important enough to be there.” Then I just have to show up and do well. It may not
    change the world, but then, I don't think TED will either.

    Edit to Add: I read this and it sounds so negative… so let me add that I'm glad you had such a wonderful time. I'm glad it fills that niche for you and all the other attendees. Sounds like you had fun! :)

  29. I attended TED as a TED Fellow. It was a truly once in a lifetime experience. Having watched the TED talks online, being here was really cool and out of the world. Part of the funds TED collects goes to the TED Fellows program, which brings interesting people from around the world to TED.

    I think TED has done the world a great service by giving us TED talks. They got 200 million downloads last year. Its incredibly popular in Malaysia. There idea to license TED in the form of TEDx was a stroke of brilliance. Being elitist? They make it clear that two-third of the funds paid goes to stuff like the TED talks online, the TED Prize and the TED Fellows program. If not for that funding, TED would still be confined to a small group, today TED reaches the world

  30. None of my coworkers who watched TED this week were invited, so to say it's an invitation only event isn't quite proper. I don't believe you have to be invited to spend the $6,000. Of course, there's one way for us to find out: put down the $6,000 and see if you get in in 2012.

  31. Apologies if this is a duplicate – something weird happened the first time I tried to post this.
    Me and some members of the Bing team this week went to TEDActive, where we received the TED talk feeds as they happened, as well as our own activities (a flash mob, TEDYou, creativity and innovation lounges with interactive art installations and teleconferencing to talk to TED speakers, as well as an alternate history/reality game that is hard to describe but culminated in an amazing party in the desert with all the hundreds of TEDActive attendees, the TEDActive musicians, and String Theory).
    It’s going to sound weird to the glittering throngs over there, but folks I talked to, who had been to both said felt they’d rather have been in Palm Springs than in Long Beach this year. I can’t compare, but my tendency is to agree with them.
    Some of it was the formality of the theater we saw you in. Palm Springs attendees watching the TED talks whooped and hollered throughout. We lounged in beanbag chairs and the TEDbeds with viewing screens and ate chips and drank amazing coffee on the couches. You could actually escape to the ladies room without feeling like you just stepped on Sting’s entourage on your way out.
    A lot of our happiness was that you actually could count on seeing people again because the conference was a fourth the size of Long Beach’s attendance. You could follow up if you realized you missed something important the first time you met someone. My bet is that some of the most creative ideas for Jamie Oliver’s initiative to change the way America handles food will come from Palm Springs. Why? Because many attendees there can’t buy the solution to Oliver’s wish – they can offer only themselves as part of the solution.
    For me, while many of the TED talks rocked my world, the most powerful one was Glenna, the woman with a brain tumor and less than three years now to live who made us all cry on the last day at TED. She was in Palm Springs, not Long Beach, and I got to thank her ( in the ladies room no less) after that video aired. Her challenge “ I likely won’t be there – so what will you be doing Christmas 2011?” was truly an idea worth spreading. A lot of the TED talks showed us how things are going and what the world needs; her talk showed us why we have to get off our butts and DO IT.
    I don’t believe that if Larry or Sergey met me at TED, they’d remember me, but thanks to TEDActive I feel like I could do something in the next year that would make them take notice. We all can – or at least more so than we think.
    The other thing I noticed in your blog post was no mention of the TED staff. For the TEDActive folks, Kelly and Rives and Shanna and Sarah and Matthew and the other TED staffers who busted butt were a key ingredient to what made the conference for us. Wanted to give them a shoutout of appreciation.
    I’m still digesting, but I don’t feel like I missed out on your TED Robert. I came to TEDActive for business reasons, but I left convinced I have to change the world for the better. I suspect that’s what the TED foundation folks were aiming for. :)
    Cheers!
    Betsy Aoki, Bing

  32. Bob and Lucretia, as I said in my earlier comment, getting in to TED (invitation is kind of an odd word for it – it's a case of write your 400 word mini-essay and wait for a vacant slot as far as I can tell) isn't hard, it just takes patience. Took me two goes before I got one.

    And sure it's expensive, but when you consider what those dollars are funding – not just getting into the conference but the TED Prize, TED Fellows, the Sapling Foundation and its staff and the production of a conference that really does set the standard – it's money arguably well spent.

    I really don't get the bitchiness. If people haven't been (and haven't tried), they're in no position to moan. If they think they can do better, then they should pull their fingers out (is this a particularly Australian expression?) and do it. And, if they want to go, apply and they'll eventually get a spot.

    TED really is a room of doers. While I'm in no position to pony up $100K cheques to fund ideas, I saw it happen more than once. Same with access to interesting people; I sat and had lunch in 2009 with musicians, artists, scientists, researchers, designers and folk like me (people who run small businesses and save all year to go to TED again).

    I'm kind of over the moaning and disinclined to comment any more about it. I'd rather people put up or shut up.

  33. Robert: Thanks for an insightful post. The one common denomiator people seem to focus on with regard to attendance at TED is the price of admission. Some have suggested that the price should be lower, and Chris Anderson's response was that they're already sold out in advance every year; if they lower the price they'd just have longer waiting lists and they wouldn't have the funding to do all that they do.

    So let's set the money aside for a moment. Does $6000 and being first in line get you into TED? No. If anyone's serious about attending TED, I'd suggest you go to the TED website, create a (free) account with them, and check out the application process. You can start here:
    http://www.ted.com/pages/view/id/72

    “The TED Conference application is not a typical conference registration form. We're looking for people who are likely, in our judgment, to be a strong contributor to the TED community and/or the ideas discussed at TED — and/or the TED Prize wishes and projects that come out of the conference.

    Before you apply, here are a few things to know:

    Set aside an uninterrupted hour to fill out the form. The questions touch on your goals, accomplishments and connection to your community. You definitely don't want to write this on the fly!” There's more…

    This isn't just about having money. This isn't about being white, or male, of a certain height, age, sexual orientation or anything like that. This is about commitment, originality, vision, and the ability to make a difference. TED isn't about a group of wealthy people sitting around figuring out how to fatten their bank accounts; it's about people working on climate change, people developing cheap vaccines for use in third-world countries, people developing new technologies and new ways of seeing the world that will someday find their way into the cell phones, computers, cars and other devices we use every day. TED is about people looking for ways to help other people, and people looking for ways to help other people help other people. Technology, Entertainment, Design. TED. But it's so much more.

    Mike.

  34. Yup, which is one reason I won the lottery. I didn't have to fill out that form and go through this process (I did go through a different process and a committee looked at all my work, including my criticism of TED). But, you can attend TED at other events without filling out this form. That's where I'll probably attend TED next year and I've been told that if I can come up with $6,000 I probably will be invited to attend the full TED in 2012.

  35. Fascinating…what I love about the TED conferences is the window into the amazing scientists brains. For us mere mortals, it is a privilege to get a glimpse of ideas that never occurred to us before. I'd love to attend just to absorb the conversations. It's on my bucket list. Thanks for sharing, Robert. I just connected with you and love your accessibility. Kudos. (PS – it's OK to change your mind from one year to the next. We all do that!)

  36. An interesting topic and conversation.

    My two cents is that if you want, anyone can put a negative spin on everything.

    Note: I've never been to a TED before. I'd like to go to one. And in the future if they run low on speakers and the world is ending, I'd love to speak at TED.

    That being said, the discussion is on the ticket price/elitism, etc.

    Flipping the coin, events that cost $0 also bring upon scrutiny. People will complain:

    “There was no value.”
    “I didn't have to buy a ticket, so why should I show up?”
    “It must suck”

    It sounds like an amazing experience. Just like a trip to Europe or attending a Stanley Cup game. Is it for everyone? Maybe not. But it isn't designed to be.

  37. Oh…and one more thing…the ukelele player was amazing! Who woulda thunk it? A much maligned instrument in the hands of an artist is quite a revelation. Thanks for sharing…I have a feeling this will go viral :-)

  38. >>that me and you don’t get invited to?

    Etc.

    Like that Elite Grammar Refresher weekend? ;-)

    (Btw, how do you reply to the main article here???)

  39. 4 years ago I was thrilled (and surprised) to get an invite to TED.

    At that time, I was the Pres/CEO of a reasonable well known school planning/design consulting firm. I'm sure that title and the work we did (along with my passionate mention of the 'future of learning' I penned in my application) had something to do with my invite.

    I had told myself — 5 years earlier — “getting to TED” was one of my key professional goals. That was a very unrealistic goal at the time, but it gave me something to reach for in terms of professional development. Then the eventual invite came. It was all falling into place. Luckily, my then-firm was willing to fund my membership/conference (with the obvious realization that the 'networking' would far outpace any initial investment). It was — all in all — a good day 'at the office.'

    Simultaneously, my first child was born soon after…and it was time to re-think my career priorities.

    Soon after the TED invite arrived, I made the decision to leave the business world and return to teaching at the high school level; I simply wanted play a bigger (non-traveling) role in that early part of his young life. It became pretty simple. I had to [gulp] turn down the invitation. My new 'teachers salary' a tad challenging to pull off the steep conference/membership fees. Having to face that decision was — on some minor level — not a good day 'at the office.'

    Ultimately, missing out on TED paled in comparison to the choice I made on behalf of my family. Sheesh — it's only a conference. Cool, hip, and globally discussed, but just a conference. The kid's arrival trumped all other options and opportunities. What had been a chance to sit amongst the world's 'elites' was now a nice bit of professional trivia about my life that nobody would know about.

    So, I watched the vids back home (and between teaching classes), passing many of them on to colleagues/friends. Not quite the same as being there, but somehow I really began to dig into what pulled me towards the TED offerings in the first place. 'Being there' seemed to be the point years earlier. Over time, however, I began to really wrestle with the talks, the ideas, the questions, the unexpected stories, the lives. Over time, I began to think about what some of those TED speakers did the 'day after' they had their 15 min of fame and the rest of the world stopped bantering about them on the Web as dramatically. Over time, I began to just wonder.

    Likewise, I became friends with two TED presenters in very unexpected ways (as a teacher, not as business leader). I began communicating with others (just based on mad curiosity and their willingness to say in touch). I realized another friend of mine who runs a summer camp was mentioned in another TED Talk quite out of the blue (maybe my proudest moment). I began to realize that I knew dozens of folks who had 'been there' in the audience at various points over time (including several this year).

    But even more, I began to see the passionate responses that my teaching colleagues (near and far) and our students (near and far) had when simply watching various TED Talks. Ever further removed from 'being there' at the big TED events, I began to see the magic, the passion, the wonder, the questions, the what-if scenarios that 'everyday' teachers and students were putting into motion just through the sharing of a TED Talk link. Far away from Long Beach (et al) — and certainly far, far away from the blog thread / Twitter comment back-n-forth convos such as this and so many others — teachers in average and little-known schools were beginning to wonder what was 'possible' in the world of teaching/schooling. Heck, even the very idea of 'learning' was being rigorously discussed all because of the wide-net the free TED Talks cast. Personally, I began to see the potential of synthesizing a massive range of ideas/expertise into the courses I taught that stretched far beyond my course syllabus. I began to see my kids ache for it. And so did I.

    And I have zero regrets now about not funding that original TED invite years ago.

    C'est la vie. Life happens. And new opportunities emerge.

    Luckily, the TEDx opportunity — along with the myriad of ways that the TED Talks are made available — extends a brilliant opportunity to those of us who cannot a) get an invite or b) afford the opportunity.

    While no coherent list of talking points will ever tame the ever-present pro/con debate re: both the cost and “elitist” tag, the truth is that the TEDx 'model' is what we gain the most from at this point.

    When anyone with access to the Web and a bit of audacity can take on the organizational/marketing/management of their own TEDx experience, perhaps its time we shift focus from Long Beach (et al) to the idea 'bonfires' that are/may unfold around the world based on the TED concept. And if being able to play a much smaller role at a much smaller version of TED — via TEDx — is what I ultimately have the opportunity to do in the year(s) ahead, I'm pretty cool with that.

    So, let whomever the precious few are that get to be 'inside' the big hall when TED comes to town. Me, I'm looking forward to being in NYC in a few weeks to see TEDxNYED unfold, hearing a buddy of mine talk about his TEDx Talk in Cardiff, UK, and talking to a few buddies about hosting one of our own in the next year.

    And that one, it dawns on me, will have plenty of room (and few financial barriers) for me to take my now 3 1/2 year old son to…where the ideas I'll day dream about as Talks lift off will race around one father's hopes for his kiddo's future.

    ***

    Kudus to you for recognizing the elephant, Robert. And for being joyful at whatever scale your attendance/experience might suggest.

    BTW, thanks for the ukulele — ridiculously lovely! Oh, and all the best to your family!

    Cheers, C

  40. Thinking about it, I wouldn't trade our time in the Yellowstone River together for a TED. Your post shows just some of the reason of why. That definitely was a “TED moment.”

  41. > makes networking world class but that it ensures that people actually attend and listen to the lectures
    You nailed it right there and that definitely justifies the premium in my book.

  42. Thanks for the post. I appreciate your POV.

    Has TED ever been syndicated offline? It's great that the organizers offer such generous access to talks on the web, but in a way doesn't this just open them up to a larger set of of the “elite” (in this case, the technologically literate)? I'd be interested to see what sort of reaction the presentations get from a broader audience.

  43. whoa….TED is the UN IMO. Every race, walk of life, gender, color, brand, type, sexual preference, size, weight…was present and accounted for, both on stage and off. There were hoards of translators and TEDx conference licensees from all over the world too. I met more people from other countries than the U.S.

  44. TED just has a business model that works well and I think will become more and more common.

    Maybe I'm missing something but also don't quite understand how it's elitist when the talks are up online for free. Most professional conferences don't do this. Not to mention conferences are always expensive – usually it's companies that pay not individuals.

    With TED everyone can get the important information for free, if not the networking and experience. But then, if I thought I was in a position to get $6k worth of experience and networking then surely it would be worth it. That's just the market price. I'd love to attend TED and I don't feel it's horribly elitist just because it's on the other side of the planet and I can't afford to. They're selling a scarcity – access.

    TED is perfectly exploiting the new shape of the media. The TED business model is one that is doesn't require copyright. The content is out there for free, it benefits from sharing. The talks are abundant and everywhere, I watched Jamie Oliver on my iPhone on saturday night on a bus travelling through London. Free videos make _more_ people want to attend, not less.

    Information is an infinite good, it _can_ be free. Physical access, because it is seriously limited, _has_ to be expensive.

    What I don't understand in all this talk about saving the newspapers, the New York Times isn't running a TED style conferences as part of their model. Papers need to sell scarcity, access is a scarcity and great papers like the New York Times have the brand to pull it off. 1000 people paying $6000 where all the op-ed columnist talk are, where they invite world leaders. $6m won't run the paper for a year, but it'll keep a few reporters in Basra.

    I suspect if he really wanted to be elitist, Chris Anderson could charge a lot more than $6,000. Instead, I think he makes a great contribution to the cultural conversation for everyone.

  45. TED just has a business model that works well and I think will become more and more common.

    Maybe I'm missing something but also don't quite understand how it's elitist when the talks are up online for free. Most professional conferences don't do this. Not to mention conferences are always expensive – usually it's companies that pay not individuals.

    With TED everyone can get the important information for free, if not the networking and experience. But then, if I thought I was in a position to get $6k worth of experience and networking then surely it would be worth it. That's just the market price. I'd love to attend TED and I don't feel it's horribly elitist just because it's on the other side of the planet and I can't afford to. They're selling a scarcity – access.

    TED is perfectly exploiting the new shape of the media. The TED business model is one that is doesn't require copyright. The content is out there for free, it benefits from sharing. The talks are abundant and everywhere, I watched Jamie Oliver on my iPhone on saturday night on a bus travelling through London. Free videos make _more_ people want to attend, not less.

    Information is an infinite good, it _can_ be free. Physical access, because it is seriously limited, _has_ to be expensive.

    What I don't understand in all this talk about saving the newspapers, the New York Times isn't running a TED style conferences as part of their model. Papers need to sell scarcity, access is a scarcity and great papers like the New York Times have the brand to pull it off. 1000 people paying $6000 where all the op-ed columnist talk are, where they invite world leaders. $6m won't run the paper for a year, but it'll keep a few reporters in Basra.

    I suspect if he really wanted to be elitist, Chris Anderson could charge a lot more than $6,000. Instead, I think he makes a great contribution to the cultural conversation for everyone.

  46. Elitism is fine. The world has always had it and we've survived. Exclusivity is fine. The world has had that too and we're doing quite OK. The problem with TED is not elitism and exclusivity. The problem is that elitism and exclusivity kinda contradict the notion of “Ideas worth spreading” .. don't you think? If those ideas are worth spreading, then they should be spread. OK, uploading select video clips on a web page is better than nothing. How about live TV coverage? How about CDs? How about getting more independent content distributors involved? If they want to walk the talk (about spreading ideas), they should do whatever they can to provide / enable access to TED content, including, perhaps, select off-line content that's worthy. And then they can be as elitists as they like about who gets to attend the live event. Who cares?

  47. Ref blackcanseco's black/white ostracism post above. You're right so let's do something about it. Contact me so we can hold the first “Black Ted” in 2011.
    Suggest we do it here in Geneva, nearer Africa than US, more sustainable.
    Serious suggestion. Anyone interested ?
    Robert can you promote ? Would TED want in ?
    Cheers, Mike in Geneva.

  48. Good science experiments always succeed.
    A scientist is testing a theory. You may get a positive result or a negative one, sometimes it is unclear, but you always learn something from it. You always know more afterwards than before. That is the point of science. Not to prove your opinion.
    You can choose your opinions – you can’t choose your facts.

  49. I don't even understand the reason for this post Scobleizer. For eons people have had private parties, so why is TED any different? Please explain to your blog readers why is TED different than say the Bohemian Grove of northern California? Or maybe Scobleizer didn't do his history lessons and wasn't even aware of the Bohemian Grove? The latter is probably more likely. No offense, but tech geeks are not usually known for their history prowess.

    @Christopher you seem to know your history quite well – I would love to see you counter, say, Fareed Zakaria who on CNN after Copenhagen interviewed megalomaniac Nathan Myhrvold who claims he has a patented garden hose he's going to hold up into the stratosphere with helium balloons and spray aerosols into the stratosphere like a volcano to counter global warming as his little geoengineering mad scientist hat trick to save the world. You should have seen Zakaria's intro of Myhrvold, oh he's such a little “god” and a child prodigy and a great chef and can do lots of puzzles when he was in the womb of his mamma, and he is a physicist and Einstein's little brother who thou art shall save the world (Zakaria made me want to puke from his intro). I'm sure Nathan is in the class known as megalomaniacs which substantially comprise much of TED (not everyone but most). Give me a break, Nina Khosla gets to attend TED because of big Daddy Warbucks? These kiddos of wealth are really in a tough situation because they didn't ask to be the children of the Vinods. Imagine the pressures of living under the same roof as a “god”, these “godlets” have enormous parental expectations from moms and pops. Anyone who had read Gladwell's Outliers will realize the super elites, while certainly not dumb and many of them academically talented (with enough training anyone can memorize), had the benefit of being born into certain time slots and having environmental support. Don't forget Gates had a Daddy who was a lawyer who could proof read those early Microsoft contracts for Billy Boy. But Steve Jobs didn't have this which is why I LOVE it that Steve Jobs is who he is and he doesn't attend these megalomaniac TED circle jerks! Its amazing no one has noticed this (Scobilizer keeps talking about Billy Boy and how he was in the hallways and at dinner tables with Meg Ryan and friends but what was perhaps more interesting is what Scobilizer didn't say — he didn't say that Steve Jobs was MIA because look at the family background diffs)! Any decently educated person with enough time can read tons of papers about nuclear power (why, I just don't get it, why should be be impressed by Gates on this score?). Do you really want to trust the world's future energy policies to Billy Boy and his patent troll pal Nathan? So back to my original point about TED: who cares? Serioiusly. Who cares about TED? TED is a closed club that likes to show off to the world with their tape delayed videos. Stop complaining about the $6K fees and what Sarah Lacy says or doesn't say, and do something more productive.

  50. Robert, there are plenty of us who have nothing but burning contempt for the whole TED enterprise who aren't jealous or bitter about not getting a ticket. A lot of think that TED is crap because it is elitist. I think it is crap, but I don't think it is crap because it is elitist.

    My problem with TED is that it is intellectual junk food. There are some smart people speaking at TED, but there are some absolute frickin' lunatics there too. Daniel Dennett is one of the smartest philosophers in the English-speaking world. Okay, yep, got a lot of respect for the man. On the same stage, though, you've got crazy pill-popping, we're-all-going-to-upload-our-brains-into-The-Matrix Ray Kurzweil, who has gone from making some great synthesizers to making lots of graphs about the Singularity which plot arbitrary data points on to a graph (his is a world where Moore's Law never ends; in ours, well, there's a reason why people are learning all these interesting new programming languages like Erlang and Scala all of a sudden). The guy is a technoquack of the highest order. They seem to have plenty of other futurists who promote Singularitarianism – but when was the last time you saw TED give space to someone who wasn't firmly bought into the futurist paradigm. How about, I dunno, Mitch Kapor. He said all this Singularity stuff was “Intelligent Design for the IQ 140 crowd”. He's exactly right. It's a religious impulse thing, not a rational thing. Will TED ever have someone to point out that the emperor might actually be naked? No, they'll just get the geek equivalent of transcendental meditation gurus to come out and waffle away. I wouldn't put long odds on them getting that fucker Deepak Chopra on stage in the next few years.

    The speakers get 20 minutes to share their idea – that is, summarise their recent book. For most of the speakers at TED who are talking about stuff I'm interested in, I've already got their books, where they get 400 pages to explain their idea, rather than 20 minutes. Those books sell for, I dunno, $20 rather than $6,000.

    People seem to get very excited about this conference, but if you live in or near a decent sized city (like I live pretty close to London), you can find plenty of other venues which provide you with far more 'ideas worth spreading' every week. What you do is you find these big institutions called universities. They have people inside them who spend all day working on ideas. We fund them as taxpayers to do this. We may as well get some of what we pay for. At these places called universities, they give talks about ideas – often for an hour and a half rather than twenty minutes, and often ideas right at the cutting-edge, rather than softened up to get through the heads of Hollywood actors. They take questions. It is free to attend. Some of the ideas there require you to use your brain a bit to keep-up. But the sort of people who've got $6,000 for a TED ticket (and the resources to get themselves to Long Beach) surely must be intelligent enough to catch whatever pass is thrown at 'em, right? ;-)

    How to get the TED experience without paying $6,000: read books and go to talks at universities…

  51. Had no clue that it was like $6,000 to goto TED, thats crazy – If i had the money i would go for sure and you're so right we can still appreciate their stuff, especially since we have access to their content and videos. Thank you for sharing the good stuff with us, btw love Sarah Silverman – not surprised at all that TED didn't get her, LOL!

  52. > such a magical consortium of brilliant minds

    @daniellethys Please! Have you read Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers? I'm sure these people are intelligent and hard workers, I take nothing away from them on that score, but you make them sound as if they are super human and they are NOT. Please everyone (from Scoblizer to Zakaria) stop with the “god” treatment. TED is just a private club that likes to show off now and then to the world (to reinforce the exclusivity of the club — by invite only). Inviting outliers is really cool and its in some ways not unlike a modern day circus event. What about real heros like doctors who save people's lives every day? TED homogeneity, yes of course. If I may, a quote from Nassim Nicholas Taleb author of the Black Swan, from his home page:

    “My major hobby is teasing people who take themselves & the quality of their knowledge too seriously & those who don’t have the courage to sometimes say: I don’t know….” (You may not be able to change the world but can at least get some entertainment & make a living out of the epistemic arrogance of the human race).

  53. I'm so glad you, the Scobleizer went to Ted, because I didn't understand what it was all about…until I just read your post.
    It fascinates me that so many conferences are deadly quiet right now and people have lost interest and funds…and up pops Ted…with a $6,000 ticket, and no way to get an invitation…and it is packed to the rafters.
    It shows that creativity and big ideas still work. So, glad you went and told us all about it.

  54. FYI, you can afford an original Ansel Adams print. Many prints are available, for merely the cost of reproduction, from the Library of Congress. IIRC the cost starts around $10.

    And you, Scoble, are still an insufferable prat.

  55. Whew, some incredible comments contrasting the pros and cons of the event. I've enjoyed many of the TED talks online and appreciate your first person perspective. I had no idea how exclusive the event was, just that it looked classy as far as stage and attendies. If a bunch of folks want to pony up $6k+ to get together once a year that's great.

    Some of the greatest communities are invite only, if you're not selective at all you end up spending your limited time with an average crowd, and what fun is that ;)?

    As much as I love a good idea, I'd like to see measurable impact from gathering together such a great crowd. What actually happens after the event is more important to me, than the initial idea sharing that happens inside. Please share all the cool stuff that's going to happen now that you've attended:
    1) folks you're going to interview in the startup/tech scene now that you've gone
    2) the funky projects you can help get involved with
    3) peoples lives you can have an impact on
    4) how you have re-evaluated your own priorities based on the emotional stories and experience

    Are we still on for June12th-ish, I'll be in your area and am working hard on nifty social tools in the meantime (VictusMedia.com).

  56. That's my read on TED. Much of it is pseudo-intellectual, with enough flash and dazzle to amaze the sub-120 IQ crowd that think they are getting something brilliant and exclusive.

    That said, the $6000 seems a reasonable price for some of the business contacts one could make there. Go there to talk with people, but you can learn more by reading good books.

  57. How to get re-invited to TED, by Robert Scoble:

    1. Get invited to TED.
    2. Attend TED.
    3. Write glowing review of TED and how, really, it is elitist, and that's what's so great about it.
    4. Mention 45 times how you can't afford it and that you are certainly *not* going to get re-invited for free, thus daring the organizers to prove you wrong.

  58. Great post. You captured the essence of TED in a way that no one else I read has. I'm going to post a link on Facebook so my friends start to get why I go.

    This was my third TED. I went to the first remote TED that was held in Aspen three years ago and have been in Long Beach the last two years and will be there next year as well.

    I, too, can't afford $6000 and all the other expenses and vacation time to go to TED but I figure out a way to save for it every year. So do my friends. It's the best thing I've ever done. TED helps me think differently and interact with people who care about themselves and the world. Pollyanna-ish? Sure. But isn't that what we need a little more of in this world?

    So, save your money, Robert. TED needs people like you.

  59. Robert,

    Lots has been discussed in your initial post and the comments – I have nothing to add to the conversation except that as you said in private conversation, you have to be here at TED to 'get' TED. You described it as an ultra HD experience – something that can't be captured on film or experienced in 2D. There is a shared experience that everyone in the room feels that is not adequately captured in the TED Talks.

    Yes it is expensive and for the past 10+ years I look forward to the being able to attend the conference and stretch my view of reality. (I remember growing up in a family that saved up all year for a four week vacation that was beyond our financial means, but was critically important in that we used the time to travel the US and stop and learn along the way. My mother explained that our education was more than just what we would learn in the classroom) I feel the same way about TED. If you thought of the money as a tuition fee….

    It seems that only at TED do I find myself confronted with topics that do not appear on my daily radar. I don't hang out with Nobel Laureates or Billion $ CEO's normally – but for five days each February I can and do. There is a lot of talk (above) about elitism, costs, $$$, etc – but I have to say that even tho I am definitely not in that rarefied air, no one at the conference comes off that way. Everyone is approachable and that may be the most amazing thing about TED – I have walked up to many, many people I would never have a chance to talk to and had an interesting conversation. It is a chance for me to practice my 'engagement' skills, by finding something to get them talking, and hence have a TED moment of my own.

    I for one look forward to you attending TED again, it was a pleasure to get to know you better and hear your stories. I also look forward to seeing you at a TEDmicro event sometime in the future.

  60. Robert,

    Lots has been discussed in your initial post and the comments – I have nothing to add to the conversation except that as you said in private conversation, you have to be here at TED to 'get' TED. You described it as an ultra HD experience – something that can't be captured on film or experienced in 2D. There is a shared experience that everyone in the room feels that is not adequately captured in the TED Talks.

    Yes it is expensive and for the past 10+ years I look forward to the being able to attend the conference and stretch my view of reality. (I remember growing up in a family that saved up all year for a four week vacation that was beyond our financial means, but was critically important in that we used the time to travel the US and stop and learn along the way. My mother explained that our education was more than just what we would learn in the classroom) I feel the same way about TED. If you thought of the money as a tuition fee….

    It seems that only at TED do I find myself confronted with topics that do not appear on my daily radar. I don't hang out with Nobel Laureates or Billion $ CEO's normally – but for five days each February I can and do. There is a lot of talk (above) about elitism, costs, $$$, etc – but I have to say that even tho I am definitely not in that rarefied air, no one at the conference comes off that way. Everyone is approachable and that may be the most amazing thing about TED – I have walked up to many, many people I would never have a chance to talk to and had an interesting conversation. It is a chance for me to practice my 'engagement' skills, by finding something to get them talking, and hence have a TED moment of my own.

    I for one look forward to you attending TED again, it was a pleasure to get to know you better and hear your stories. I also look forward to seeing you at a TEDmicro event sometime in the future.

  61. What makes TED so special is not singing the praises of its individuals, but rather, what comes of the interplay between great minds from different disciplines. Constellate that with monied people who 'get it' and can help realize the visions of these innovative thinkers, and therein the magic lies. The TEDster closest to my heart is not some uber wealthy person intent on fluffing her feathers. She is a hard working marine researcher whose longtime association with TED has helped spread her message about ocean conservation to key players who can and do make a difference. Right after Jamie Oliver accepted his TED prize, there were offers of free office space and seed money to help him realize his vision of reducing obesity through educating children about food and cooking. Though there will always be those who posture, TED is a place of action, and it has been my observation that vanity is not well regarded among its ranks.

    1. Right. Because the surplus of food is the real problem for the world right now.

      (The point of an event like TED is for rich people to *pick* the issues that will be “important” and then fund them – thus ensuring no issue that threatens their position will be deemed important).

  62. I've just done a quick survey of the TED2010 attendee list (as in, I went through four random pages at 27 names per page) and I'd say that between 70% and 75% are white. That compares favourably with the 79.96% white population of the US (source: Wolfram Alpha).

  63. HyperActiveX – they don't upload select video clips – they upload all of the talks in their entirety. They are exactly the same length – 18 minutes – at the live event as in the download. Nobody gets to run over… I've seen a tech billionaire's presentation gently interrupted and brought to a close when he tried to overrun (OK; the interruption does get edited out of the upload :) TED really does do whatever it can to spread the entire content as widely as possible, for free, as quickly as possible. Which I think is your definition of walking the talk :)

  64. Robert,

    Your post is a great take on the situation, but there's an aspect left out that I think warrants a mention:

    You don't need to pay $6,000 or go to Long Beach to have a TED experience.

    One of the most interesting things that TED did last year is open up the TEDx program (ted.com/tedx). The initial plan was to enable people to host events to watch previous talks and have a few new speakers, but it's really taken on a life of its own. Last November, I organized TEDx MidAtlantic (http://tedxmidatlantic.com), which was held in Baltimore (this year's event will be in DC). I know you may be thinking “an independently-organized TED event is not the same as TED,” but you'd be surprised.

    Our speaker lineup included United States CTO Aneesh Chopra, NPR's Scott Simon, Nobel Prize Winner and Malaria Research Institute head Peter Agre, farmer Joel Salatin (from Food, Inc. and Omnivore's
    Dilemma), among others. Tony Geraci, who spoke at TEDx MidAtlantic, is one of the “angels” Jamie Oliver spoke about and his talk was just as eye-opening and inspiring as Jamie's. We had someone talk about restoring a long-lost Archimedes text and the potential benefits of using hallucinogenic drugs to treat disorders. Sonja Sohn (from the Wire) left the audience in tears after a powerful talk and spoken word performance about inner-city kids. Andrew Bird, who you saw perform this week, was actually going to play at TEDx MidAtlantic but his tour schedule shifted and he had to cancel.

    Check out some pictures here: http://www.storiography.com/journal/tedxmidatla

    I know how much you love notes, so check out these done by one of the attendees: http://www.flickr.com/photos/annmaryliu/sets/72

    The event was fully catered, our badges were awesome
    (http://www.flickr.com/photos/xiana-aretta/40822…) and we even had a pre and post event. Our live stream went out at 480p — better quality than TED was streaming last week — and we peaked at 3,300 viewers. 600 people were in the audience.

    Now clearly, the scope wasn't quite that of TED. We had to pack 20 speakers into a single day (hoping to change that this year), and we didn't have millions of dollars to spend on tents and banners. We also didn't have a room full of VCs to rub elbows with (why do you need TED for that anyway?). But here's the rub:

    TEDx MidAtlantic was free, entirely funded by sponsors and worked on by volunteers. People came from up and down the east coast. One person even flew out from California. This year's event will probably run $50 or $100 to help cover costs. We are planning to have around 1,100 people in attendance (the audience is curated just like TED is, but most everyone got in last time).

    So what's my point? You ended your blog post by saying “let's figure out how to get more of you into TED.” Well, this is one way to do it. TEDx MidAtlantic is only one of probably 100 such events happening
    across the United States and hundreds more internationally. Few events will be on the scale of ours (TEDx Silicon Valley was in December and focused on folks like Peter Thiel and Reid Hoffman, and TEDxSF is a small quarterly gathering), but this effort is making TED accessible to those who can't get to Long Beach or Oxford. In in some respects, a TEDx event can be even more interesting and powerful than the main TED.

  65. Appreciated your comment and thoughtful push-back, Tom (even if my own instincts still find tremendous value in TED as a model and TEDx as an accessible event/community).

    Curious about your last line: “How to get the TED experience without paying $6,000: read books and go to talks at universities…”

    Books and universities have been accessible for longer than any of us have been alive, yet why is that neither — in terms of access, experience, or energy — 'inspire' the same way that TED as of late? I doubt it is because books or universities lack quality and “Q”uality on many fronts, but both are predictable and 'quieter' in terms of the visceral experience. I doubt TED will be a significant focus in 5-10 years, but for a limited time — with a wide range of elements/needs intersecting — TED may be suggesting that people are seeking something more vibrant than “just community” or “just intellectualism.”

    For all its weaknesses or promises, I wish we'd look at TED as a) a temporary social reaction and b) as a model for what 'schools'/'learning' can be over time: push the boundaries in ways that are accessible.

    Again, I appreciate your reaction and believe — from my own experience — that you're right about being able to create a D.I.Y. TED-like experience (set) without fronting the $6K or related bits just being being savvy, having a dynamic radar in place, and being madly curious.

    That being said — from the vantage point of one teacher in one school — I can tell you that teachers/students (beneath the college level at least) are hungry for the very concept of what TED suggests. There's something deeper going on that may have nothing to do with the elites or the power-players who are in Long Beach (etc). I'm growing more curious about what TED will mean in 10 years, as opposed the pro/con debate now.

  66. Nice piece, except I disagree about your comment; “If I talked with Sarah Silverman, though, I would have encouraged her to attend a TED before she talked (I heard she was only there for that morning). If she had, I’m sure she would have tried a different experiment on this particular audience than the one she attempted.”

    An experiment really isn't an experiment if it's catered to the audience. Miss Silverman's work is consistently a radical departure from mediocrity. One can not find brilliance without bravely venturing into uncharted territory. The onus is on the audience. Stay, leave, clap, don't clap – no one was forced to keep their seat warm.

    TED espouses “new and cutting edge different” which is apparently what Miss Solverman delivered. It would have been have been amazing if TED stayed true to its ideology and held a safe harbor for Miss Silverman's piece affording an opportunity for conversation instead of crucification. All brilliant, radical ideas from technological to concepts like civil rights start way, way outside the comfort zone of contemporary acceptability. It is the very essence of innovation and change.

  67. The thing is, Silverman was way off the reservation with her comments about wanting to adopt a terminally ill retarded child. Those were NOT catered to this particular audience and if she had spent some time with them she would have known that. I found her talk overall to be pretty funny and brave stuff, but there she just wasn't funny to me and others in the audience. I agree with you, though, that Chris Anderson's tweet wasn't smart. He reacted emotionally and didn't come up to the level of performance that TED expects either. But the neat thing about this all is we're all human. The performer. The audience. Everyone. We're all flawed, even when we're brilliant. There were several talks that explored that in depth, including one by an autistic woman a couple of hours earlier. Anyway, I do have to say that Silverman did get us all to talk and caused us to look inside by being challenged by poorly thought out content so from that point of view she totally was a huge success.

  68. Well, for one, Bohemian Grove is male only. For two, Bohemian Grove doesn't put their talks up on the Web for all of us to engage with and see. For three, Bohemian Grove doesn't mix the best performers from a wide range of talents. But I'll tell you more later, gotta go because the airplane I'm on is landing.

  69. I think you’re missing the point. Perhaps you really are only interested in hearing lectures on topics you’ve invested hours into studying, but some people—many of them “intelligent” by any reasonable standard—would rather dabble with their precious time. I agree that not every TED talk is brilliant, and that audiences might even walk away with a poor or incorrect understanding of the good ones. Yet to me, trashing the whole platform as you do is like belittling a newspaper for reporting on complex topics (peer-reviewed studies, foreign relations, etc.). The articles aren't ultimately rigorous, but they often benefit readers and certainly serve a purpose.

  70. Pompous? You are right. I phrased that badly. What I don't like is when people are fooled by things that I think are pseudo-intellectual. A moderate amount of what I write is dedicated to the idea keeping people from being fooled by financial and economic charlatans, who take advantage of the lack of knowledge of those they exploit. What I fight on money issues, I don't like in other spheres.

  71. Love the TED talks and follow them throughout the year for the incredible material, invention and insight they shed on the whole of human achievement. Your comment was so spot on about even the stage offering brain food (Forget eye candy) and the means to help digest the profound implications of so much brilliant and shared thought. The talks are avaialble through out the year, and many of us can watch and learn from them.
    That I really took away from your post Robert, that we as humans DO always have the means to learn and to stretch ourselves intellectually, and even emotionally as you mention with Ms. Silvermans presentation.
    We always do have the ability to research, and read and think and that power is so important to our survival and renewal. And that power as you point out is always there for us.
    As a huge fan of your writings and blogs and yes even tweets, I am thrilled you got to go and be there. You are “Our Man at TED” and are our man at the frontlines of technology. All of us who fiollow you do so because we want the insight you provide, and the up to the minute reports and stories and videos. ( I just watched Pranav Mistry's incredible talk from TEDIndia in 2009, a few months ago, and see how his opensource work is affecting invention.)
    We follow you because we want to know more, and want that great sphere which houses our mind to also expand. And it can, and it does and it does so without $6,000 USD or a million. It does so because we choose to open it up and fill it with relevant knowledge and meaning. and TED.
    Thank you.

  72. Hi, Tom Rielly from TED here. Nearly everyone, including actors, pays to attend TED. Accredited press covering the event do not pay as per press norms. Arianna was covering the event. It would be unfair to let people in free just because of who they are.

  73. Craig Mundie is actually head of RESEARCH at Microsoft. Judging from the Pivot and Maps demos I think he's got some amazing scientists working with him. He's also responsible for major initiatives in the developing world. I have a lot of respect for him and his group.

  74. TEDxSF does charge for events simply to cover costs such as food, lighting and hi-def video so we capture content and share ideas just like TED Long Beach. A committee of nearly a dozen mostly made up of long time TEDsters (myself included) volunteer to ensure the SF events keep the quality high. TED also gives us a 'liscence' to hold events which is one other way they can be sure quality is maintained.

  75. > I’ve never seen notes like these at any other event.

    You just haven’t looked. These are my notes from Idea City in June, 2003. Every talk. Detailed. With pictures. http://downes.ca/ideacity/index.htm

    Not that it’s relevant – but the face that you’ve never seen something doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist, and it doesn’t mean the work at TED isn’t derivative and inferior (and yet called ‘better’ and ‘original’ ONLY because it was created by a rich person).

  76. I am a marginally imaginative mysanthropist. I only skimmed TED to figure out how to most cleverly dismiss it.

    I masturbate into a soggy copy of Catcher in the Rye.

  77. Oh Robert – seriously – that was the most disingenuous I've ever seen you be. It's invitation only to attend. We both know that they make it easy to view – you viewed it yourself before this year – but that didn't satisfy you then, did it?

    As for putting down $6k? Just as soon as I win the lottery and don't have a money-sucking-pit (read: child) at home, I'll put down the $6k for TED and the $10k for the World Series of Poker and see which one I get into first! ;)

  78. It's a blog Stephen. We're allowed to disagree. Otherwise Robert would shut off the comments like certain other a-listers we all know! ;)

    p.s. I find doers every place I go – it's amazing how many of them there are in the world… not just at TED.

  79. Thanks, Sean. I guess that's the point of view from the “half-full” side. Somehow, I can't help feeling that there's plenty more they could do, that they aren't. But if they really mean to walk the talk then that's a good thing! I guess as we go along we will see more initiatives aimed at doing a better job of spreading the ideas that are worth spreading.

  80. Glad you enjoyed Jamie Oliver's gig. His books are well known in the UK. Unlike most other chefs that try write books, his are really easy to understand and the recipes mostly work. Well worth the modest investment IMO.

  81. I'm so glad I stopped to read this in my RSS feed. Though it was deceptively difficult to find the comment box meshed in between all these comments and reactions.

    Thank you Robert, thank you for writing this. It was a spectacular read in so many ways. Just makes me want to start saving up $6,000 to go to TED 2012.

  82. Robert, your defense of Sarah Silverman is a stretch at best. Either Silverman is A) an intellectual giant performing a sociological experiment on an unsuspecting audience, or she is B) a shock comedian who has made a career out of offending people in a humorous way.

    This is not to denigrate Sarah Silverman in any way. She is the best at what she does. But being the best at something, whether it is Alec Baldwin, Ted Nugent or Barbara Streishand, does not automatically mean that someone has some deep wisdom that can benefit all of society.

    Sarah Silverman does not push the edges of boundaries in an attempt to make the world a better place, she does so to make people laugh and make a living. Your defense of Sarah Silverman could easily be used to defend any racist, sexist, homophobic joke. “It's not offensive, it's CHALLENGING!” I wish I had read this post 15 years ago, so the 12 year old me could have used your argument to tell my mom that it was okay for me to listen to Howard Stern.

    To me, Robert, your defense of Sarah's “experiment,” sounds more like an attempt to intellectualize crude humor. It's okay for you to find Silverman funny, but to try to characterize it as some sophisticated pursuit of a better humanity is disingenuous at best.

  83. Thanks for the info Michael. I know very little about the TEDx conferences, though I did encounter someone who had spoken at one (not TEDxSF) who postured as if (s)he had spoken at TED. It made me curious about how Chris, who, if this year's security measures are any indicator, is clearly very concerned with TED's exclusivity and, as an extension, brand. Happy as I am they are cropping up everywhere, TEDx seems contrary to the measure of brand control one sees with the main TED conference, and inevitably there will an ever growing number of TEDx speakers who simply say they spoke at TED.

  84. Funny, 6K for a conference, filled with months-old intellectual jelly donuts, and all the post-press and overglow is all pedantic Silvermanisms, and nothing of the “scientists” and techies. I guess they don't need good PR, being overbooked and exclusive as such. But if they ever made Andrew Orlowski a keynoter…6K down-payment already.

    Memo to organizers, don't invite any Al Goreish climate changers next year, that brand of doom and gloom is no longer in vogue, being all that fudged data, hockey stick gone flat, wait till the next 'we-will-all-die-unless-you-fund-me' scare story crisis pops up. Find some new devil to rail (and tax) against.

  85. Are you trying to come off as a smug, close-minded tool? If so, mission accomplished. No doubt, frequent visitors to this site have learned to skip over your comments. I know I won't read any more of them.

  86. Sounds to me like exclusivity mistaken for quality. See also: Ivy League university. People say it’s good because people say it’s good. Group declares certain people superior by virtue of their inclusion. Circular and masturbatory.

  87. I will say this elsewhere – but I've given this a lot of thought over the last 3 days… and I have to say that I think I was wrong before.

    Not often that I find myself revisiting a blog post and thinking three days later that I need to post about my error… okay, almost never ;) But in this case? I was wrong.

    I'm judging based on my own experience and that's kind of not the point of reading about your experience is it? Especially since I don't have the experience of actually having been there.

    My apologies Robert. Must've been a very off week for me. Should I get a spare $6k? I'll reserve my judgment until after I've got something to go on! :)

  88. Stephen:

    My apologies. Your response to me was clearly not just to me – but rather the frustration at more than one person expressing negativity without having experienced it themselves.

    I understand your frustration.

    Seldom do people on the Internet have to have any experience to express their opinion on something as if they were an authority. Myself included obviously.
    Sorry I was a straw that broke the proverbial camel's back for you.

  89. Lucretia, I totally didn't take it that way. It was a general comment that I made. So absolutely no offence taken in any way.

    You actually have to kill dolphins by clubbing them with kittens to offend me.

  90. “To me, TED is priceless (seriously).”

    yes. seriously. i can't think of another gathering, except perhaps renaissance weekend, that enriches and challenges me more than a ted conference. and i hope that my presence in some way inspires and enriches others in their work, thought it's most often the other way around. 2010 was my 3rd adventure to ted.

    i would say to chris coulter (above) – how can you expect to be a vital part of the solution (whatever you interpret that to be) when you limit your own identity to petty cynicism? you have proactive, constructive suggestions? we would all love to hear them.

    scoble, i have a different take on silverman. her brand of humor isn't interesting to me one way or another (yawn). the problem is that there were kids at ted this year, and perhaps scores of kids watching live on associate feeds. heck, a little girl -gave- a ted talk this year. something to consider.

  91. i've been to both palm springs and long beach. very different experiences, and both are exceptional. i really missed all my friends from palm springs, missed sitting around the pool fires sharing world-changing ideas well into the wee-hours. indeed betsy, ted facilitates doers – being change agents – giving back – sharing talents – participating in ideas far bigger than our own – collaboration – giving and receiving inspiration and resources in ways i never realized were possible – meeting the next generation of social activists (the ted fellows) and becoming part of their dreams.

  92. like any forum of ideas, there will be differences of opinion. two presenters this year (main stage and TED U) were on opposite side of the energy debate. one (an MIT professor who receives funding from shell – as does ted) painted a rosy picture of energy – everything's fine – plenty of oil – look i have “data” to prove it.

    but bill gates had a totally different picture. things aren't rosy – we have a very, very serious long term dilemma – gates went to so far as to characterize energy as the #1 structural issue of our era. i happen to have studied energy for years and side with gates, even though he has an economic incentive for his position (as did the shell oil guy).

    ideas worth spreading are all around us. ted is just an excuse to put a lot of the very best ideas, and the people who have them, in one place at one time. when that happens, something nearly magical happens. and i don't think ted has reached even a small fraction of its global potential as a cultural force.

  93. Wouldn't expect anything less, long learnt the Scobleizer Cult hive mind, filters out anything that doesn't fit into their pretty little boxes. Anything slightly divergent, label a troll, name-calling modus operandi.

    Closed-minded? I did say I'd attend IF they went Andrew Orlowskish. The TED Wired Libertarianisms makes for an odd mix with the Progressive Neo-Statists, I guess if everyone worships technology as god, common ground.

  94. I went to TEDActive this year and I have barely a pot to piss in these days. Why? Because there was a chance for me to go and I took it. I am not elitist, nor rich, and do NOT think about anyone else in that way – well I try not too. There is an understanding at TED that everyone wants to learn and play and that we are all on equal ground. Yes, you can talk to Bill Gates and take pictures of his notes, but rapping with a statistician, an investor, a mechanical engineer, an entrepreneur, and an oncology hematologist until the wee hours of the night around a campfire — well there is no price you can pay to bring that kind of instantaneous collaboration. Forget Bill Gates – that is what it is all about. The mood and openness of others was sublime. Chris Anderson and the people who put TED and TEDActive together do an excellent job of making sure you feel open and accepted, but YOU have to want to be open with your ideas as soon as you walk in. Don't wear any moral or intellectual blinders and try to hold judgment at the door.

    To be honest, I hope I have the ability to do some sort of art or design collaboration after attending the event, but if it doesn't happen, I am no worse for attending – only better. My boyfriend said after my second day at TEDActive that it sounds like “a really fun camp for smart people.” I guess this is because of all the technology I talked about and how we went on bike rides and talked around campfires. I am not totally sure about the “smart” label, but there is definitely an eagerness for learning and sharing and if that is SMART – well fine by me.

    Thank you for the post. I follow your sentiment and want to add that TED has room for anyone who wants to empower and enlighten and delight those around them. Glad you went, hope to see you next year if I am lucky enough to afford it again.

  95. Robert can afford a ferrari a pre loved 428 is realtivly afordable and wont depreciate like buying a new car for the same amount would.

    TED still strikes me as a Jolly a bit like how ICANT holds a lot of meetings in far away and expensive places to get to.

  96. Robert can afford a ferrari a pre loved 428 is realtivly afordable and wont depreciate like buying a new car for the same amount would.

    TED still strikes me as a Jolly a bit like how ICANT holds a lot of meetings in far away and expensive places to get to.