I remember the first time I heard about TED in the early 2000s. It sounded illusive and inspiring, like a secret society of luminaries and great thinkers. It became a conference I loved and that inspired me to dig deeper into areas I cared about. I remember first looking at the price of admission, and thinking that I’d never have a chance to be at TED, in the flesh. Years later, they would come to open the vaults to their talks, became a household name and a huge brand.
But I believe the essence of what TED was, Richard Saul Wurman’s vision for a conference, has been at least partially lost, diluted in the numerous TEDx events around the world – many only sharing the name and brand, and none of the magic of the parent organization. Sure, TED will continue to inspire – certainly me and many others -, but its essence has at least shifted. It will still be about amazing speakers and revolutionary ideas, but with size and attention also came commercialism which sadly frequently trumps originality and quality.
So I was admittedly happy to hear about Richard Saul Wurman’s new project, WWW.WWW, happening a little over a year from now, in September of 2012. With it, RSW wants to bring back the power of one-to-one improvised, informative conversation.
Throughout the years I’ve helped organize a number of conferences in various ways, and I was recently made a part of a think tank effort to envision how conferences might work and look like in the future. One of the key points emerging out of a recent discussion of said think tank was exactly this: that there’s a lot of value in capturing conversation between two people, particularly if they come from two different points of view.
Personally, I’m excited and can’t wait for next year. There’s a bit more information about WWW.WWW on its website, and there’s also an article about the conference and its vision at the Fast Company Design blog, which you can read by clicking here.