TEDx San Jose 2011

Two weeks ago, I attended TEDx San Jose.  I have always wanted to attend a TED event.  It was amazing.

For those who do not know, TED stands for Technology, Education, and Design.  It is one of, if not, the, pre-eminent conference in the world.  They bring in a large assortment of the most interesting, important, and influencing people in just about any field (of course with a focus on the TED areas of expertise).  A few years ago, they starting putting their TED talks online.  I saw a few and was hooked.  TED Talks are short (under 18 minutes) and people sometimes practice months before giving them — how else to talk about your most passionate area of interest and convey its wonder in such a short period?  I would love to attend a TED conference.  Sadly, it is out of my price range (~$6,000) plus I believe you need an invitation.

Luckily, TED went open source two years ago and started their TEDx program.  TEDx allows anyone to start their own TED conference on just about any topic.  I found out about one in the DC area last year but could not attend.  However, I was reading Robert Scoble’s blog and he mentioned he was speaking at TEDx San Jose.  Since I sort of view Scoble as somewhat of a Silicon Valley legend (in fact, someone I very much just wanted to meet), I thought going to the conference was perfect.  I moved out to Cali to meet interesting, smart people who wanted to change the world.  What better place than a TED conference right in the middle of Silicon Valley?!  I signed up and the cost was a very reasonable $100.

The conference, which was an entire Saturday (from ~8am-9pm including the after-party), was incredibly well-done (kudos to the organizers).  The speakers were amazing.  Everyone from Salman Khan (Khan Academy and recent TED speaker) to Dr. Kim Silverman (a major guy at Apple but who wowed the crowd with amazing magic), Kevin Surace (Inc’s entrepreneur of the year), Jonathan Trent (“Green” ideas and Nasa PhD scientist), Karen Trivelsky (started an amazing company from literally the ground up and is now helping out hundreds of underprivileged kids with college and a People Magazine “Hero Among Us”), to Margo McAuliffe (started an amazing girl’s school in Kenya and you can’t help but want to donate to her cause) were great .  The organizers suggested that everyone sit somewhere different after each session – I did and met great folks.  Plus, at lunch, I strategically sat at Scoble’s table and had a pretty interesting conversation with him!

My friends tried to convince me to go skiing the weekend of TEDx San Jose.  I refused and I am glad that I did (although I did miss some amazing powder).  TEDx – thanks for a great experience.

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