TEDx Means Excellent? Extra? Extraneous?

Check out this interesting article in The NY Times about the expansion of the TED brand into local events. Way back in 1998-2001 I worked for two guys (at different times) who used to get invited to TED every year. I was so jealous and I wanted to go. I’d drop hints but neither of them caught on (or ignored them). Richard Saul Wurman, founder of TED, sold the conference to another group in 2001. Then, Al Gore used TED as a platform to hone his presentation about the environment, which eventually became An Inconvenient Truth. Then, TED, got really popular. I still wasn’t invited but by then I decided I didn’t really want to go, because even if you were invited chances were that you would be listening to the luminaries dispense their wisdom not from an auditorium seat mere feet from the speaker, but in a sweaty tent in a separate location via a big screen TV, and you would have paid thousands of dollars to do so.  So, now TED is democratizing its brand by allowing folks around the world to host their own TED conferences. I feel conflicted about this. On one hand, it’s great that so many people are taking the initiative to put their views out there, but on the other hand I think the thing that made TED great was that it was a group of great minds coming together to solve problems. Now it seems like it’s simply a badge of honor to have done a TED presentation. I dunno, maybe I just like exclusive groups from which I’m excluded.

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