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Infrastructure // PC & Servers
Commentary
3/6/2007
03:35 PM
David  DeJean
David DeJean
Commentary
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Want To Feel Smart? Listen To TED

Yesterday's New York Times reminded me that TED 2007 starts today. I first discovered this annual wallow in intelligence, a conference that brings together leaders in the fields of technology, entertainment, and design, last year. Maybe if I pay close attention to this year's program I'll be smart enough to attend TED in person in 2009 (next year is already sold out).

Yesterday's New York Times reminded me that TED 2007 starts today. I first discovered this annual wallow in intelligence, a conference that brings together leaders in the fields of technology, entertainment, and design, last year. Maybe if I pay close attention to this year's program I'll be smart enough to attend TED in person in 2009 (next year is already sold out).From today through Saturday, a parade of the most accomplished people on the planet will cross a stage in Monterey, Calif., enriching the already rich lives of an audience that paid $4,000 apiece to be in the same room with them. The three winners of this years TED Prizes, biologist E. O. Wilson, war photographer James Nachtwey, and former President Bill Clinton, will each reveal a dream and challenge the crowd to help them make it come true.

Just checking out the program and reading the speaker bios on the TED Web site will make you feel smarter, and if you'd like some background, you can read about Chris Anderson, the conference organizer, in the Times article, "Where Artists and Inventors Plot to Save the World," (you'll need to be registered).

Even better, over the past several months material from previous TED events has been appearing in increasing volume on the Web. Anderson wanted to turn conference presentations into a television series, but the BBC turned the idea down as too intellectual. So instead we can load up our iPods with TEDTalks. There are more than five dozen TED presentations available to watch online, or download as audio or video. Sir Ken Robinson's appearance at TED 2006 was my introduction to TED back when the first TEDTalks went up in August of last year, and I recommend it highly. My latest fave is Jeff Han's demonstration of multitouch computer interfaces. Or just click on a title at random. You'll get smarter.

The TEDTalks are sponsored by BMW, by the way. I usually wouldn't mention anything that crass, but it is so refreshing to have a company use advertising dollars to support something that might actually make the world a smarter place, instead of a dumber place, that I think it deserves special credit.

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