I recently spent almost a week at TED Active and it was pretty amazing. Not just the talks but also the people who attended. If you’re not familiar with the TED format, visit TED.com or check your Netflix listings. In essence, they are short talks (mostly under 18 minutes) that emphasize communicating directly with the audience with the use of minimal “slides.” The subjects can be almost anything, but “ideas worth spreading” is the main thrust. The new and innovative are the order of the day for attendee/presenters like Bill Gates and other leaders.
I was able to go to TEDActive as a previous TEDx (an independently licensed TED) event organizer. As such, myself and a couple of hundred TEDx-ers arrived on Saturday, went to workshops on Sunday and were then transported from Vancouver (where the main TED event was slated to begin the next day) up to Whistler, B.C. Canada for our parallel activities.
During our Sunday in Vancouver, Chris Anderson (the curator of TED) gave us a presentation on various aspects of TEDx in the auditorium where the TED event would kick off the next day. He had asked for feedback on the venue and I had an observation I was going to email him. Then, lo and behold, I saw him a meter away from me so I stopped to share my comment in person (the observation itself had to do with the side screens behind the speakers). I then introduced myself and gave him the More Than a Mile Behind business card, saying that I was working on a history of the metric system in the United States. “Does it have a history?” or words to that effect, was his response. I started to give my Thomas Jefferson line about our dimes and pennies, but some other people came up and his attention went elsewhere.
TEDActive had its own venue in the conference center, complete with giveaways, food and a live stream of the talks from Vancouver with periodic shout outs by Anderson.
Activities were scheduled every day from break of dawn to 10-11 p.m. with the talks starting around 8 a.m. While I was there, I met people from all over the planet.
Later in the week, there were presentations about potentially great things on the horizon but that might eventually lead to our doom. He asked the audience to respond.
Just for the heck of it, I went ahead and sent in an email. I figured the chance of mine seeing the light of day was slim since, in total, there were about 1,000 people watching at that moment. How wrong I was! Right before the break for lunch he read three emails, and mine was one of them along with the mention of my name. My response:
Subject: Change is neither all good or bad
Every time there is change on the horizon there is talk of the doom it will bring.
This has been going on for centuries.
As in the past, progress will bring the negative with it but overall it will be for the good.
I wouldn’t want to go back prior to the industrial revolution (for one example).
There’s more but it will need to wait until next week.