Not many of us actually get to attend TED, a conference where the biggest minds in technology and entertainment have gathered for more than 20 years. From what I’ve read, this year’s event took on a different tone. BusinessWeek’s Jessi Hempel sums it up:
And if anyone can do anything about this global warming crisis, surely they’re here, where the entrepreneurial nature of investors like Doerr and Vinod Khosla meets the celebrity power of Oscar-winning actor Forest Whitaker or singer Paul Simon. Pepper in heavyweight academics like Nobel prize winner Murray Gell-Mann and a few politicians like the 42nd President of the U.S., Bill Clinton, and you have a promising team for social change.
Tim Dyson, the CEO of Next Fifteen (Text 100’s parent company), was able to attend and as he implies on his blog, when these minds come together and are determined to drive change, you have something real… “The next big thing isn’t some amazing new algorithm or financial model, it’s the thing you’ve been standing on for most of your life – the planet.”
Andrew Sorkin covers the other side of the event in his New York Times’ DealBook blog, Tears Cast a Shadow at Sunny Tech Gathering. Apparently John Doerr commented, “I’m scared. I don’t think we’re going to make it,” which Sorkin said doesn’t sound like much of an elevator pitch. Maybe it’s the pitch everyone needs. It shows that this isn’t going to be easy. All the bright minds in the world can do all the thinking they want, but without the call to action to implement their ideas, where will we end up? America responds well to cash so Doerr’s statement, “going green is the largest economic opportunity of the 21st century,” may be just the call to action we need.
I knew something might be different this year when the TED book club was shipping Worldchanging: A Users Guide for the 21st Century to its members.
Check out this overview of the event on YouTube.