Posted by: Helen Walters on February 04, 2009
Back from the oil fields and everyone piled into one of the smaller conference rooms at the Performing Arts Center (I gather it wasn’t the main room, though I also haven’t quite worked out where that is yet. Ok, so I got a bit distracted by the Google cafe, replete with its assortment of nuts, brownies, crisps and sodas, etc. And have I mentioned it’s glorious weather here?)
Anyway, TED University is really pretty great. Essentially it gives some people who aren’t getting their 18 minutes on the main stage a chance to give their own short talk. In previous years, there have been multiple presentations, given simultaneously, but this year it’s single track only, and it did make things rather less hectic. Not less than high octane, however, as I think we rattled through about 18 presenters in an hour and 45 minutes. (There’ll be another two sessions in the next few days.)
Ray Kurzweil introducing the Singularity University (created in conjunction with Peter Diamandis of the X Prize, Google and NASA) and airily discussing the wisdom of Moore's Law as he did so. John Breen of freerice.com discussing how its super-easy-to-use online interface has led to some 58 billion grains of rice being donated to the UN World Food Program in a year. And Austin Hill tearfully explaining the thinking behind Akoha: "what if playing a game could make the world a better place?" Then of course there were the slightly more leftfield presentations, which included Kymberlee Weil teaching the audience how to rebuff an attacker via a handshake. And Bruce "Kokoe" Johnson, who vaguely taught us all how to make cheese. An eclectic mix, for sure. And this is just the start.
What comes next? The BusinessWeek Innovation and Design team of Michael Arndt and Helen Walters chronicle new tools for creativity and collaboration, innovation case studies in both the corporate and social sectors, and the new ideas that have the power to change the way things have always been done.