TED comes to Aspen! ( in a suitably high-tech Debut)
On Wednesday, a few dozen committed cognoscenti braved the whiteout to reach Glenda Greenwald’s home and the site of the first TEDxLive salon---an all-day salon-style live simulcast of the TED 2012 conference taking place in Long Beach California.
It was worth the trek—the audience (including local bloggers, tweeters, and an AHS) news reporter) was instantly plunged into TED’s inspiring combination of dazzling speakers, disruptive ideas and inclusion into what has become a viral world-wide phenomenon:
TED (Technology Entertainment and Design) combines active audience participation with an extraordinary collection of speakers “with something remarkable to share--and they are able to share it in a remarkable way”.
There were 5 themed sessions, which progressed from 9:30 AM to 7 PM. European Catering provided the delicious all-day buffet, and local TEDster Yalonda Long added her “In the Soup” creations to the gourmet fare.
So what is the “TED Experience”? For the Aspen TED participants, this meant having DARPA Director Regina Dugan pose the question, ”What would you undertake if you knew you could not fail?” while demonstrating a dazzling array of DARPA projects--including an existing Mach 20 hypersonic aircraft (NY-LA in 11 minutes) that involved many mis-steps along the way (“the only way to learn to fly is to fly”, she reminded us).
Among the 20+ talks, Aspen TEDsters were alternately moved, dazzled, challenged and inspired: Pete McBride agreed with Jim Hansen’s eloquent plea on behalf of the scientific community to “do something about climate change—it is like an asteroid that we know is headed towards the Earth, and every day it gets closer, the number of resources we will require to deflect it increase geometrically, until there is no way to save ourselves”. Pete (who has made an award-winning film about the Colorado river) stressed, “We’re all out there trying to sound the alarm--but people have to make the effort to connect the dots and get involved, and it’s easier not to.”
In the other room, Blanca O’Leary (never one to shirk involvement) declared that she had recruited her entire table of TEDsters to attend the Democratic Caucus meeting March 6. Meanwhile Jim Aresty, Nancy Paley, Nancy Walker and others brainstormed possible speakers for TEDxAspen, slated for August 10 and 11. Catherine Ward, ace high school reporter, was spotted interviewing Bill Hunt (over hors d’oeuvres).
The talks covered everything from self-organizing mini-helicopters to teen gospel choirs, from energy policy to crowd-sourcing, from algorithms to art, from virtual dissection to the sacred headlands of Northern Canada. The effect was dizzying--TEDxAspen organizer Kevin Ward observed, “Remember that semester in college when you took too many courses? Well, I think we’re all feeling that combination of giddiness, inspiration, and exhaustion—it feels like the end of a perfect powder day!
The organizers agreed with attendees that Aspen's first TEDxLive salon was a huge success, and are looking forward to bringing TEDxAspen to life this August.
Aspenites are always hungry for substantial, intriguing, cutting-edge programs—we intend to deliver just that” said Ward.
Glenda remarked on the level of excitement she witnessed at the TEDxLive gathering: ”It’s so wonderful to see people becoming inspired by all of these different ideas and sharing that enthusiasm”, she noted, “That’s what I love about Aspen—people embrace new ideas, and want to make them happen”.