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This Week: Idea Week and TEDxSMU


by Jerome Weeks 11 Oct 2010

TED is the name of an annual conference on innovation that began in 1984 in California and has since been taken up around the world. TED stands for ‘technology, entertainment and design’ while TEDxSMU stands for TED at SMU, the local version. This year, TEDxSMU has got Idea Week, five days of run-up talks, meetings, carrotmobs and speed ideatings. Don’t know what those are? Find out here.

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TED is the name of an annual conference on innovation that began in 1984 in California and has since been taken up around the world. TED stands for ‘technology, entertainment and design.’ Last year, Dallas held its own TED conference, and KERA’s Jerome Weeks reports, this year, TED is spreading.

KERA radio report:

Expanded online story:

It’s actually called TEDxSMU, which means ‘TED at Southern Methodist University’ – named for a chief sponsor. TED’s motto is “Ideas Worth Sharing,” and it has freely licensed the name TEDx for people to hold their own independent, offshoot conferences. That’s because the original TED in California is a bit exclusive. And pricey. Speakers have included Bono, Bill Gates, former British prime minister Gordon Brown — and tickets cost $6,000. That’s one reason — it’s all about sharing ideas, remember — videos of the TED talks are available online.

Here in North Texas, last year’s TEDxSMU sold out. This year’s – to be held Saturday at the Wyly Theatre – is also sold out. (Coincidentally, the co-designer of the Wyly, Joshua Prince-Ramus, is both a former TED speaker and TEDxSMU speaker.)

But Dallasites had their own ideas.  Sharon Lyle is the producer of TEDxSMU and co-founder of Idea Week.

Lyle: “As I was looking around at all of the amazing things that were going on in the idea-brain candy circles, it occurred to me: Can we  start really raising the awareness of what’s going on in Dallas — both locally and beyond?”

Most of the 31 events in Idea Week are free and open to the public. They begin today and are being used as a run-up to TEDxSMU.

Idea Weak isn’t a series of lectures or calls to action. A carrotmob, for instance, is a group that asks companies to bid on their patronage. A firm offers to donate some of its earnings to a social cause – and wins the carrotmob’s business for the evening. It’s the carrot-not-the-stick method of consumers influencing company practices. This week’s will be the first carrotmob in Texas.

Idea Week will also feature the latest, local example of Pecha Kucha — which the Japanese devised as a kind of crash-course PowerPoint demo. Speakers have 20 slides and 20 seconds per slide to explain what they’re up to. And then there’s what’s called speed ideating. Groups at different locations around town will ask people to suggest just one tweak on, say, public education. Then they ask the next person to build on that. Then the next. It’s brainstorming crossed with the game of telephone.

Idea Week itself is an example of what can happen to all these ideas bumping about, says Lyle. She started it three months ago with only a thousand dollars.

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