The TED Conference is going on this week. I wish I was there, even as I’m consoled by the fact that the weather in Tel Aviv is gorgeous during my business trip.
While I’ve never been to the TED Conference, I have adopted the habit of watching TED Talks online. The premise of the talks is that a (presumable) expert gives the “talk of their life” in 20 minutes on their area of their expertise.
An aside: I noted that humorist John Hodgman is speaking there this week. He wrote a wickedly funny and strange book called “Areas of My Expertise”. Maybe that’s why he was invited. The book is highly recommended.
While TED and TED Talks have been pretty interesting stuff, I thought about the undercurrent of TED. Which seems to be the unspoken: “let’s all get together, call each other smart, and be confident that the high cost of conference admission weeds out the others”. This type of self-referential, self-reinforcing elitism usually brings out the contrarian and cynic in me. As in, “the really smart people probably avoid this type of conference like the plague”.
But when you look at the caliber of the speakers, you have to ask yourself: is there a still-higher caliber of people left out? If so, what percentage of the “smart people” population are they? Probably very small indeed.
In the end, I decided TED people are way smarter than me. Ergo, I’ll keep watching TED Talks and wishing I was there.