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Will TED 2009 heal the Davos depression?

While both venues summon an elite group of thinkers and doers, this week's conference, focused on technology, entertainment and design, is decidedly more optimistic.


These days, conferences are thankful for not having the word "economic" in their names. Yet the difference between the World Economic Forum in Davos, which, according to most accounts, was a pretty somber affair ("how did we get into this mess?"), and the TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) conference in Long Beach, Calif., is not just a semantic one.

While both venues summon an elite group of thinkers and doers, TED is decidedly more optimistic. "The Great Unveiling" is this year's theme, and so far, the program has lived up to its promise: Bill Gates unleashed mosquitoes, David Hanson made robot faces from "frubber," Arthur Benjamin introduced circus flair with his "magic squares," and photographer Yann-Arthus Bertrand embarked on a project to connect us all ("6 billion others"), to name just a few highlights.

With the words written on a TED attendee's arm: "All the really exciting things possible in a lifetime require a little more courage than we usually have."

The bigger story here might be the new power of the creative class. Well, it's not really new, but it's certainly a welcome renaissance. The right brain seems to be creating a surplus at the very moment the left brain sees its executive pays cut. Bail us out of the misery, TEDsters!

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