One of the most significant annual conferences each year (actually two -- one in the USA and one across the pond) is run by a little group known as TED. The name started out to mean "technology, entertainment, design", but the subject matter has expanded significantly in the last 25 years. The TED conference is probably the single outstanding forum for communicating bold and important ideas across industry, sector, discipline and international boundaries.
I've never had the budget to attend the conference itself, but I've often downloaded "TED talks" from www.ted.com. Individual talks tend to be about 20-30 minutes long; it's remarkable what a dedicated, enthusiastic, true expert can communicate in such a short time.
The good news, at least for some, is that TED talks are now coming to television. Not all televisions, of course (does anything still come to all televisions?). But televisions hooked up to cable or satellite systems that get Link TV. Link is a tremendous source for documentaries and overseas news digests -- it has that quiet radicalism that just presumes all parts of the world are equally interesting and equally important, and that real reality is more worth watching than Hollywood (or Jersey Shore) "reality". (In the spirit of full disclosure, I occasionally send money to Link. They don't send me any money back, though, so my opinions remain my own.)
TED's broadcast premiere will be next Wednesday, at 7:30 Eastern/4:30 Pacific. (Left coasters can see it again at 9:30 Pacific.) Tim Brown will be speaking about the design process, and about what might happen if we put as much effort into designing and implementing access to clean drinking water as we do into creating clothes that don't look like what everyone was wearing last year. Since clean drinking water is as urgent -- right now -- to much of the world as climate change soon will be to all of us, I think it's a great topic to start with.
In a sense, putting TED on TV is just a small step. Link is a network that appeals primarily to educated, right- (I mean, left-) thinking individuals, many of whom have reliable access to the web. But, like much of the effort involved in promoting sustainability on campuses, it's a small step towards awareness, and consciousness, and conscience-ness. And it might help drive a lot of traffic to TED's website which, in turn, might lead to one or more giant leaps.
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