Inspired Talks By The World’s Greatest Thinkers And Doers

By Aviva Engel in Creativity on October 31st, 2007 / One Comment

The most brilliant minds on the planet are gathering in Montery, CA. for a 4 day conference, by invitation only.

Imagine a gathering where the worlds top entrepreneurs, designers, scientist and artists present astonishing new ideas. Remarkable ideas from every area of knowledge. Great ideas brought about by passion, ideas that have the power to change the world. What could be called a Cirque Du Soleil of the mind and heart.

People from 26 different countries come together to explore. Something magical happens; there’s nothing more exciting than a bold new idea.

Where they explore ideas to make our future world a much better place. You can say hello to the guy next to you and it could be Al Gore, the finders of Google and Amazon and Aero Space Engineers.

The curator Chris Anderson has infused TED with a strong sense of social purpose, where people want to make a difference in the world. Envision what happens when you bring together people who are brilliant and have all kinds of connections in different areas and resources.

People connect and help each other get ideas into action with offering their expertise, companies, money, and connection. Then with their diversity of ideas, take it out into the world.

TED was born in 1984 out of the observation by Richard Saul Wurman of a powerful convergence between Technology, Entertainment and Design. The first TED included demos of the newly released Macintosh computer and Sony compact disc, while mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot demonstrated how to map coastlines with his newly discovered fractals and AI guru Marvin Minsky outlined his powerful new model of the mind. Several influential members of the burgeoning digerati community were also there, including Nicholas Negroponte and Stewart Brand.

But despite the stellar lineup, the event lost money, and it was six years before Wurman and his partner Harry Marks tried again. This time, the world was ready and the numbers worked. TED has been held regularly in Monterey, California, ever since, attracting a growing and influential audience from many different disciplines united by their curiosity, open-mindedness, a desire to think outside the box … and also by their shared discovery of an exciting secret. (TED was always an invitation only event; it never had an advertising budget or a PR campaign.)

Meanwhile the roster of presenters broadened to include scientists, philosophers, musicians, religious leaders, philanthropists and many others. Over the years, TED speakers have included Bill Gates, Frank Gehry, Jane Goodall, Al Gore, Billy Graham, Peter Gabriel, Quincy Jones, Bono. Yet often the real stars have been the unexpected: Li Lu, a key organizer of the Tiananmen Square student protest; Aimee Mullins, a Paralympics competitor who tried out a new pair of artificial legs onstage; or Jennifer Lin, a 14-year-old pianist whose 6-minute improvisation moved the audience to tears.

For many of the attendees, TED became one of the intellectual and emotional highlights of the year. That was certainly true for media entrepreneur Chris Anderson, who met with Wurman in 2000 to discuss the conference’s future. Wurman, at age 65, was ready to pass on the reins. A deal was struck, and in 2001, Chris’s foundation (The Sapling Foundation) acquired TED, and Chris became TED’s curator.

Chris pledged to stand by the principles that made TED great: the same inspired format, the same breadth of content, the same commitment to seek out the most interesting people on earth and let them communicate what they are passionate about, untainted by corporate influence.

But there were also significant changes under the new ownership. First, the content continued to broaden. TED explicitly sought out the world’s most interesting speakers, no matter what their field of expertise, and there was a growing attempt to reach outside the US. Second, there was a growing realization that the ideas and inspiration generated at TED could and should have an impact well beyond the conference itself.

Accordingly the years 2001–2006 saw three major additions to the TED family:

  • A sister conference, TEDGlobal, held in a different country every other year
  • The TED Prize, which grants its winners “one wish to change the world”
  • A ground-breaking audio and video podcast series, TEDTalks, in which the best TED content is released free online.

TEDTalks proved so popular that in 2007 TED’s website was relaunched around them, allowing a global audience to enjoy free eyeball-to-eyeball access to some of the world’s greatest thinkers, leaders and teachers.

The story continues…
The TED Prize was created as a way of taking the inspiration, ideas and resources that are generated at TED and use them to make a difference in the world.

The prize was introduced in 2005, and it is unlike any other award. Here’s why. Although the winners receive a prize of $100,000 each, that’s the least of what they get. The real prize is that they are granted a WISH. A wish to change the world. There are no formal restrictions on the wish. We ask our winners to think big and to be creative. They are permitted several months of dreaming, brainstorming and planning.

Then they come to TED, and during a special session at the conference, they unveil their wish. The goal is that it creates an incredible sense of excitement and common purpose. It inspires the TED community, and all those who hear about the wish, to offer their help in making the wish come true.

Three winners are chosen each year. They could be anyone with worldchanging potential: inventors or entrepreneurs, designers or artists, visionaries or mavericks, story-tellers or persuaders. But they must be people who the judges believe have the ability to inspire others to do something great for the world. Usually, they themselves and/or the organizations that they lead, will head the effort to make the wish come true.

Through commitments of technology, design, PR, outreach, time, money, expertise and knowledge, individuals and companies work collaboratively to put the pieces of the project together and fulfill the wish. With the support of those inspired by their wish, the TED Prize winners may be able to achieve things that can’t readily be done any other way.

Here’s one example of a wish and how it was brought to fruition:

Cameron Sinclair’s wish:
I wish to create a community that actively embraces open-source design to generate innovative and sustainable living standards for all.

As revealed at TED2007:
The Open Architecture Network launched March 8, 2007 – and on its first day, it was visited by some 25,000 people, who uploaded dozens of new building plans. Its instant success shows how vital a resource this website is.

The OAN is a clearinghouse for designs, but it’s also a living network, where communities can connect with designers and donors, and where builders can manage a project from start to finish, with timelines, commenting tools and forums. Clean design and a powerful backend make the network accessible to anyone worldwide, while Creative Commons licensing allows projects to be sampled, remixed and customized.

“One of the first users,” Cameron says, “is an indigenous building group from the Hopi nation. They’re looking to share their ideas … so that other reservations can do low-income housing.”

Also at TED, one of the OAN’s project partners, AMD, announced the establishment of the Open Architecture Prize, given by AMD’s 50×15 Initiative and Architecture for Humanity — a $250,000 prize for the best open-source design of an “e-community” technology center. The prize money goes to the budget of the new center, and the winning plan will become part of the Open Architecture Network database.

How it came together:

  • Sun brought the strength of its technology and the brain power of its engineering team to design and build the Open Architecture Network. It was a global effort, with engineers in the US, Canada and India spending more than 1,000 hours of development time to design and build the back end of the network, using open-source software. The site is powered by Sun Fire servers and Sun StorageTek drives to manage the incredible amount of architectural designs, product specs and databases offered on the Open Architecture Network.
  • Hot Studio provided research, strategic concept modeling, user experience and visual design expertise to design a sustainable and scalable interactive system consistent with Architecture for Humanity’s vision. Hot Studio started the process by providing a human-centered design methodology. It created a framework to enable full collaboration across the team that fostered innovative and strategic thinking throughout the project.
  • AMD agreed to provide Opteron server processor technologies, as well as dedicated hosting services for the OAN server solution for a period of no less two years.
  • TEDsters Dean and Anne Ornish provided free office space for the Architecture for Humanity team in Sausalito for a full year, enabling them to move from Bozeman, MT, to the San Francisco area, where their tech resources are.
  • Creative Commons helped to integrate AFH’s licensing system into the network, allowing architects to share their designs, including renderings, sketches and even CAD files, on terms of their choosing while protecting their intellectual property rights.
  • TEDster Laura Galloway of Galloway Media Group has provided pro-bono PR
  • TEDster Taylor Milsal has given her time as a development director for Architecture for Humanity
  • The Sapling Foundation gave a $125K matching grant to the building of the network, which
  • TEDsters James and Zem Joaquin and Jay Platt have begun to match, along with a number of AFH community members
  • TEDster Peter Skillman, of Palm, provided Treos for the Architecture for Humanity team
  • TEDsters Saul Griffith (Squid Labs), Amy Smith (MIT) and Martin Fisher (KickStart) have worked as an informal advisory group
  • The firms Reno and Cavanaugh PLLC and Jenner & Block LLP provided legal guidance to help protect designers who share their work on the network against unwarranted professional liability.

Into the future:
Now that the Open Architecture Network has launched, TED is looking for designers to populate it. Looking for more building plans every day as the OAN community hits critical mass.

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One Response to “Inspired Talks By The World’s Greatest Thinkers And Doers”

  1. Marc Freeman Aisu Says:

    There is nothing as having the ability to transced brilliancewith the exodus of ideas. i am a fun of innovation powered with motion. That way we can make the world one village..

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