No, not Ted the guy next door, nor even Ted the Unibomber. Rather TED the amazing convention that happens yearly and is attended by some of the best and brightest in the world.
A caveat first: I have never attended TED, and I am enormously jealous of those who have.
And now, my rant.
The major problem with TED is that I CAN'T GO! Not that I am personally special or anything, but I don't have the cash ($4400 plus travel, room, board, etc...) or the vacation time to head out west for four days, no matter how amazing the event is.
The same holds true (in some ways more, in some ways less) for undergrad and grad students. The people who ARE the world of tomorrow, are pretty much shut out of the discussion on how to guide/craft/save that world. Students do not have the cash to go to TED. Most people do no have the cash/resources/time to go to TED.
'AH' you say 'TED put the talks online!' and that is true, but that is only half the event. TED brings brilliant people together to talk and share ideas. Those presentations start many conversations, and those conversations are just as important as the presentations. If your not there, your missing out.
I tried to make a small effort to fix that. I dropped an unasked-for email to Wil Shipley who had blogged so brilliantly about TED. He was nice enough to respond to my email and start a 'conversation'. While replying to his email it struck me how much this was NOT a conversation (beyond the fact that two emails is not a conversation, it lacked a whole lot more). Humans have evolved (or were created, whatever you like) to function in a world that was completely face to face. So much depends on body language, nuance, voice, etc. Email is useful but its no substitute. It is very hard to tell if the other person is interested, its near impossible to know if you have lost the thread of conversation, its totally impossible to (legally) break into someone else's conversation with an insightful comment.
In other words, email just don't cut it.
So how can it be 'fixed'? How can I/you/anyone help make TED more accessible to the rest of us?
I was thinking on this issue as I started my day...
Then a friend of mine sent me this youtube video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xHWTLA8WecI
While I am not certain on all the numbers listed, the point is pretty clear. The world is moving, FAST. There is no reasonable way for a single human to tackle it all, and certainly not in the standard formal college setting.
It gave me an idea.....
I am famous for ideas that are half baked and barely conceivable let alone do-able. So I am putting more effort into this one.
The idea in short: A one day convention style event, done on a Sunday or federal holiday. Free or extremely affordable admission. Topics are open, presentations are 10 to 15 minutes, posters are everywhere, setup is geared towards small group conversations. The location would be east coast.
The specifics are still percolating through my brain.
I did decide on the name (a minor item, I know): SHIFT
I will (hopefully) post more details as I think them up and work them out. There is a VERY outside chance that I can get this to work.... very outside.
Then again, you never know.