TED Conferences » About » Past TEDs » TED2008 » What the press says

Comedian Robin Williams scrutinizes grim images of abuses perpetuated by US soldier guards at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. Actress Cameron Diaz twirls a lock of her blond hair with a finger as she leans back in a beanbag chair and listens to a vaunted paleontologist speak of an inevitable end to humanity's golden age in the cosmos. ... The powerful, the famous and the brilliant mingle casually, finding inspiration, hope and challenge in mind-bending themes.
Agence France-Presse, March 3, 2008

The mix of attendees speaks largely to the conference's evolution over the years, growing from a fairly geeky tech confab into a global think fest with the mandate of solving the world's problems. ...
[Louise] Leakey's discourse pointed out the purpose of gatherings like TED. It forces the movers and shakers of the world to confront the questions right in front of us. Who are we? Where are we going? How can we fix it? Whether this format produces any real change can be debated. But for the vast majority of us locked in the day-to-day struggle to survive, perform, cope, this kind of discussion is a wildly refreshing reminder of what's important.
SF Chronicle, Alan T. Saracevic, February 28, 2008

You have to be careful during TED, because sometimes getting engaged in a conversation outside the hall or the simulcast rooms might make you miss one of the best talks. These can often come from someone you never heard of on a subject that didn't sound so great in the conference booklet. On TED's opener on Wednesday, I carefully set up the one outside appointment I had that day so that I would be absent for only one talk—and when I returned to the hall I discovered that the speaker I had missed, a brain scientist named Jill Taylor (who had herself suffered a stroke), had been the hit of the show. For the rest of the conference, when you asked someone his or her personal highlight, her name was instantly invoked.
Newsweek, Steven Levy, February 29, 2008

But here's the thing -- unlike at some other conferences of the famous and powerful, where amid the posturing and preening the occasional new idea rears its head before being shoved aside by the glitter and glam -- TED is a conference that privileges creativity over celebrity. Many of the people on stage are scientists and avant-garde artists who have a big, new, geeky idea that is changing their field and could change the world. The celebrities here are in the audience rather than on stage. They are doing what the venture capitalists, journalists, philanthropists, and various other ridiculously successful mavericks are doing -- looking for (in the words of Michael Lewis) the new new thing. The list of things unveiled here first -- Photoshop, Illustrator, the touch-screen technology of the iPhone -- is literally unbelievable.
Washington Post, Eboo Patel, columnist, March 3, 2008

Each year since 1984 many of the world's top minds have come to a gorgeous Monterey Bay setting to discuss big ideas at TED, but the ideas are as varied and sweeping as the entirety of human existence. They often have a technological bent -- the Adobe computer programs Acrobat and Photoshop were first unveiled at TED. But speakers are just as likely to talk about architecture, astrophysics or genetics. Humanitarians regularly grace the stage, as did Bill Clinton last year when he sought to enlist members of the TED community to help build a nationwide health care system in Rwanda.
One thing is certain -- in its 24 years the conference has gone from a mere meeting of the minds to a phenomenon approaching cult status.
The Star-Ledger, Michael Reilly, March 9, 2008

The wishes of this year's TED Prize winners are sprawing, audacious -- and seemed entirely possible to the overachievers attending the organization's annual conference.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Pam Maples, March 2, 2008

I just returned from the TED conference in Monterey, California, perhaps one of the most interesting experiences of my life, 3 and a half days of short presentations by scientists, writers, innovators, and creative thinkers of the 21st century. What permeated the event was curiosity - an insatiable thirst for learning, for experiencing, for allowing creativity to take the lead. Einstein once said, "The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing." I've come to understand the importance of questioning and the never-ending nature of it.
Huffington Post, Susan Smalley, March 6, 2008