TED-Heads vs TED-Feds

The Annual TED Conference taking place February 9-13 in Long Beach, California has an elitism about it.  If you have $6000 to spend on an event - If you are an expert in the field of technology, entertainment or design - if you know how to deliver information in a new and innovative fashion - and of course there is that little matter about being invited - you might be worthy of  being considered a TED-Head with TED-Cred. If not, join the rest of us -  the club of TED-Fed D-Listers who can only witness the affair from afar, like a kid with no funds peering into the window of a candy store.

Sarah Lacy in a Business Week article a few years back described her disillusionment with TED as an event that while heralding it's "we-care-about-little-people-while-changing the world" ethos, really boils down to a bunch of folks who will talk to you but are constantly scanning the room to see if there is someone more worthy of their attention.

Apparently over time, according to Lacy in a subsequent TechCrunch article even "more elitism" has settled into this lofty gathering. She notes that, "TED has always been an expensive clique, but once you were in, you were in."  However that has changed. Now when the day's sessions are done, there's a hierarachy of parties that are based on who-you-know, and often only the very top echelon are allowed in.

Distance LearningDistance LearningSo how can us common folk benefit from these elevated proceedings, even if it's on the outside-looking-in?  Distance learning is a field of education that focuses on delivering education to students who are not physically "on site." TEDTalks are now posted for free online, and some are even streamed from the conference. This gives you a shot at learning from afar. After all, some folks even obtain their degrees in this manner.

This 4-minute trailer gives you a taste of TED and the magic that happens at each Conference. Often described as a four-day "brain spa," TEDTalks provides a daily podcast of the best presentations where thought-leaders are given 18 minutes to share their greatest insights.

You can watch this year's and previous year's Top 10 TEDTalks on TED.com here.

There's also some additional hope for us poor schlubs who are not part of the TED Clique of Heads. In the spirit of "ideas worth sharing," TEDx has introduced a new program that allows anyone in the world to host their own TED event - a sort of TED-lite if you will.  A listing of major TEDx events have already been planned for February, 2010 including TEDxWhistler (Canada), TEDxASB (India), and TEDxManhattanBeach (California), with hundreds of others planned throughout the coming year. Each event handles its own attendance and registration independently, so entrance fees will vary - but most likely not come anywhere close to the $6000 ticket price of TED's annual event in Long Beach.

Some while some of us can bask in the rarified air of Long Beach, California hobnobbing with  the likes of Bill Gates and Tom Hanks, us D-Listers will just have to be satisfied with second-hand YouTube Videos, news feeds and the company of Kathy Griffin. Such is the fate of us TED-FED D-Listers!

Kathy Griffin - Queen of the D-ListersKathy Griffin - Queen of the D-Listers