I went to the TED Conference in Oxford this week. Click that link and browse a bit to get an idea of who/what it is.
Fully engaged, I was front row at every talk, talking with as many strangers as I could, in between the talks. In four days, I....
- Talked with Thomas Dolby. (read his TED music overview, here)
- Immediately bonded with kindred Maria Popova from Bulgaria (“a curious mind at large with a passion for behavioral psychology, innovation, design and good conversation”)
- Met Willard Wigan in the lobby, who makes entire sculptures inside the eye of a needle
- Hung with Marian Spier from Suriname, who is putting on a TEDx Conference in Amsterdam
- Heard then hung with 18-year-old euphonium player Matthew White
- Got a Mandarin lesson from Heidi Hsueh, then found out we've been on surprisingly parallel paths
- Talked with Imogen Heap about creative motivation (she can't work without deadlines)
- Shook the hand of the man who swam across the North Pole
- Loved the metaphors and aphorisms of James Geary
- Got teary-eyed over the amazing performance by Emmanuel Jal
- Had a great talk with Julian Treasure, a business sound expert, who did an amazing 5-minute talk about the influence of sound on our surroundings
- Met amazing musician Meklit Hadero, who recognized me and came up to me! She was the only person to do so at the whole conference. I was the initiator of every other social interaction for the whole week.
All-in-all, my favorite thing about coming to TED are the other audience members I meet, who I have more in common with than any other random group of people I've met.
For example, I plan to live in a dozen different countries around the world, for 1-3 years each. Most of my friends think I'm weird for this, but at TED I met four separate people who have done this or are doing it now.
I'm hooked. They're ridiculously expensive, but I'm already registered for TED India in November, TED 2010 in California, and TED Global in Oxford 2010. My buddy Amber Rubarth is coming with me to TED India, which is “only” $2400, one-third the cost of the others, so if you're thinking of going, here's more info.