I was first exposed to the TED Conference at some point over the past 18 months. It stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design. It's held annually in Monterey, Ca. Here's a description of TED, from the official website:
Our mission: Spreading ideas.
We believe passionately in the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and ultimately, the world. So we're building here a clearinghouse that offers free knowledge and inspiration from the world's most inspired thinkers, and also a community of curious souls to engage with ideas and each other. Over time, you'll see us add talks and performances from other events, and solicit submissions from you, as well. This site, launched April 2007, is an ever-evolving work in progress, and you're an important part of it.
The TED Conference, held annually in Monterey, is still the heart of TED. More than a thousand people now attend — indeed, the event sells out a year in advance — and the content has expanded to include science, business, the arts and all the big global issues facing our world. Over four days, 50 speakers each take an 18-minute slot, and there are many shorter pieces of content, including music, performance and comedy. There are no breakout groups. Everyone shares the same experience. It shouldn't work, but it does. It works because all of knowledge is connected. Every so often it makes sense to emerge from the trenches we dig for a living, and ascend to a 30,000-foot view, where we see, to our astonishment, an intricately interconnected whole.
The Conference has a website that hosts full clips of seemingly every speaker. Since discovering the conference -- and the website -- it has quickly become a time killer. I've spent countless hours devouring these speeches and still leave inspired after every visit. The topics are all over the map, from Steve Levitt talking about gangs, to Tony Robbins calling out Al Gore's 2000 campaign to Al Gore's face (yes, it's weird to me that Tony Robbins spoke at this thing; we can all agree that Tony Robbins is pretty much a bafoon, but this 90 second take on Gore is actually stunning and makes me think that this Tony Robbins character is a lot more genius than I realize. Skip to 5:07 in the clip), to 14-year old Jennifer Lin doing jaw-dropping improvisational work on the piano.
If you have a few hours to kill, do us both a favor and check out some Ted Talks.