It's time for TED

It’s time for TED 2008. Most of the TED team — helped by a vast contingent of electricians, decorators, and other skilled craftspeople  — is in Monterey, California, preparing the conference, which will start on Wednesday. Our colleagues are in Aspen doing the same (see previous post): in a TED first, the two locations will be linked by satellite, and several speakers will be addressing the Monterey audience from Colorado.

This year we will be asking "The Big Questions": Who are we? What is our place in the universe? Is beauty truth? Will evil prevail? How do we create? And more. Questions that hopefully will be answered by the speakers:


In Monterey, while the content team gathers in hourlong meetings to fine-tune the fabulous program — there will be a couple of surprise speakers — the trucks are unloaded and the conference center transformed:




In another room, the signage is getting readied (there will be, as you can see, a "bloggers alley", which will probably be taken over by Ethan Zuckerman and myself):


The legendary TED gift bags have been filled and are ready to be distributed to the attendees. The bags themselves, created in 800 different color combinations by Rickshaw Bagworks (mass customization at work!) out of entirely recycled materials, are truly amazing, imho (and I’ve attended hundreds of conferences) the best conference bags ever made. More details in another post tomorrow. In the meantime, see if you can spot the cute animals trying to escape from  the bags:


One of the off-stage top attractions of the TED 2008 will certainly be the self-driving Chevy Tahoe, full of advanced electronics (cameras, sensors, radars, lasers, etc) that Carnegie Mellon University and GM, together with other partners, built to win the Darpa Urban Challenge last November — an amazing tech achievement, making the car navigate a 60-miles urban route autonomously, with no remote steering:


More tomorrow, and starting on Wednesday I will be liveblogging the whole conference on both the TED Blog and on LunchOverIP, as well as posting daily updates on The Huffington Post. When the conference starts I will also be providing links to other TED bloggers. For backgrounders on TED, you can read the About TED page on the conference’s website or this post I wrote before last year’s conference, or all the posts from TED 2006 or from TED 2007. There is also an inspiring 7-minutes video, "A taste of TED".

A TED session will be webcast live, on Thursday 28 February, 5:15 to 7 PM California time: The winners of the TED Prize 2008 — writer Dave Eggers, religious historian Karen Armstrong and physicist Neil Turok — will be speaking and unveiling their wishes. I’ll post the link for the webcast page ahead of time.