Monday, February 28, 2011

Ideas are the New Oil

I spent yesterday high in the mountains outside Palm Springs, at an outdoor event for TEDx organizers, alternately freezing in the early morning desert cold and burning to a crisp in the hot afternoon sun.  Despite unappealing conditions, the enthusiasm of people from around the world discussing what had happened at their TEDxes was infectious.

Two young men from South Korea described the reception to several conferences there.  Someone from Brazil described a meeting in a hotel deep in Amazonia.  Accommodation was augmented by boats in the river, and some people had to come 45 minutes by boat from another hotel.  The art work in the program design from Athens' TEDxAcademy was awesome - all hand done, with delightful doodles on every page.  A description of a TEDx in a women's school in Pakistan that would bring tears to your eyes.  And a story of women at a TEDx in China opening up in a way they never had before.  

I was a modest success with my description of how hard it is to get speakers to have practice sessions before their talks - people really related to my characterization of nailing Jello to a tree.  And they loved the photo!

We were broken up into regional groups to discuss how different TEDx organizers could work together better in our regions.  Dan Jacob of TEDxToronto did a great summary of the ideas from Canada, including the idea of rolling TEDxes across Canada as a VIA train made its way across the country.  The iconic symbol of exploration and cross-Canada links, linked with exploration  of ideas at every stop and on the train along the way.  Dan did a great job of the presentation and got the Canadians to do a cheer "The world needs more Canada", which earned remarks from the host "Aren't those Canadians adorable?"

The sum-up of the ideas from the Middle East was amazing.  Building on TED's tagline of Ideas Worth Spreading, their spokesperson said the Middle East was experiencing a Revolution Worth Spreading.  And he coined my favourite phrase of the day Ideas are the New Oil.

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