To realize this goal might take some time, since I’d have to have $4000 spare cash first and even if I had would have to wait, since the TED conference is always sold out one year in advance. But fortunately they started to put some of the TEDTalks (18 minute talks/presentation given during the TED conferences) online a couple of month ago and continue to add talks from older conferences. They even improve the interface, though a lot remains to be done.
Watching these videos is probably the second best thing to actually attending. I watched at least 40 so far, obviously picked those first that seemed most interesting to me, and most of them are either great or genius. They are all thought provoking and inspiring and many are going to change your view of the world. Hans Rosling gave a presentation of the Gapminder software in 2006 (Debunking third-world myths with the best stats you’ve ever seen), opening a completely new perspective on how to see data, only to even top this with his talk in 2007 (New insights on poverty and life around the world). Who would expect a Professor of International Health and studied statistician to get standing ovations for a piece of performance art involving a sword to demonstrate the opportunities in worldwide development? This very well represents the TED mission: spread ideas (in sometimes unexpected ways).
I consider myself well informed, technically up to date, political interested and knowledgeable in many of the subjects frequently discussed at TED, but I’m still blown away by the talks. Spending four days of talks with similarly interested and smart people would probably be a non-stop braingasm. Just thinking about it makes me shiver with excitement.