Vancouver's TED conference in 2014 isn't for you and me

Loads of people are excited about the famous TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) conference moving to Vancouver in 2014. There are a few good reasons for this: 1,200 attendees and their personal assistants can't be bad for the economy, and some of them will be the "world's leading thinkers and doers" and the "best TED speakers of all time".

For many of us, however, TED2014—and its satellite conference TEDActive 2014 in Whistler—might as well be taking place in Santiago, Chile. We'll just end up watching the TED talks that "curator" Chris Anderson and company deign to release on YouTube with everyone else, anyways.

You see, tickets cost US$7,500 for TED2014 and US$3,750 for TEDActive 2014. And that's not enough to get you in.

Yes, registering for a TED conference is worse than filling out a job application. Here's the questions that prospective attendees have to answer to just be considered for admission to TEDGlobal 2013 (US$6,000) in Edinburgh, Scotland:

In two crystal clear sentences: What is your principal occupation?

If a friend were to describe your accomplishments in up to three sentences, what would he or she say?

What other achievements would you like to share?

What are you passionate about? (work, creative output, issues, causes, communities…)

What do we need to know about you that we didn't ask? (Up to 300 words)

(Optional) Can you share a memorable anecdote from your life that will give us a further sense of what makes you tick?

(Optional) Have you contributed to the TED Community this year? If so how (e.g. helped on the TEDPrize, contribution to TEDFellows, hosted TEDx event, translating TEDTalks...)?

(Optional) What's your one great idea worth spreading about how to improve the conference itself?

Applicants are also asked to list up to three websites that say something about them (you are discouraged from choosing Google) and—get this—at least two references.

Registration for TED2014 and TEDActive 2014 opens on Monday (February 11). A parody Twitter account posted this tweet:

I think that about says it all.

Comments (35) Add New Comment
People in Vancouver really know how to throw a wet towel on everything.

Be happy, something good is happening to the community. Lots of smart people will visit the city, and maybe, come into contact with some of the smart people this city has to offer.
Rating: -8
Jealous much?
Rating: -32
I'm gonna watch the videos for free in HD on the internet.
Rating: +54
Shortly after the conference they release the videos for free. Attending the conference, which is a monster to put on, is not.

Why is that? Well, tons of people from around the world are going to apply to get in, so they should make it difficult. We are talking about the goal of the worlds greatest minds coming to one place and sharing ideas. Not every angry hipster with a fix gear and a start-up showing up so they can instagram the whole thing for nerd cred.

Having these people come to Vancouver and partake in what we have to offer could be massive for the city. A lot more massive than if we just make them all dance for us like a bunch of smug pricks.

People need to stop complaining about every good thing that happens to this city.
Rating: +47
Actually Mr. Hui it IS for me. I outearn you. Don't get trampled trying to fangirl Stephen Hawking on his way into the venue.
Rating: -43
Once again proving that Vancouverites will find and focus on the downside of anything. I swear, if someone invented jellybeans that cured cancer, people like Mr. Hui would complain about the taste.

I didn't attend TED last year when it wasn't here, and I won't attend it next year when it is here, but the free online talks are brilliant. Meanwhile, it's going to inject hundreds of thousands of dollars into the Vancouver economy either way. Mr. Hui, get over yourself.
Rating: -20
I find elitism in any form, as ugly as sin.

I, lowly peon I am, will probably watch a few of the talks online.
Rating: +31
Ermott, would you prefer the conference was completely open to all, and completely free?

There could of course be no venue, stage, audio-visual, staff, exhibits or speakers. Since any organizers, even volunteers, could not curate or organize the event without excluding someone, the event itself would be a cacophony of random shouting voices ...but it wouldn't be elitist.

You, of course, don't actually CARE, you just want something to indignantly oppose so you can feel like an 'othered' victim.
Rating: -16
Most things in Vancouver are priced out of my reach. The Olympics, housing...all the more reason to take advantage of the free stuff they leave out for us. I will enjoy the TED talks online, as I've always done.
Rating: +32
This paper is made by losers for the losers who want Vancouver to remain a provincial town of chicken coops and granolaheads. Nothing good, sopfisticated, elegant and innovative will ever get a thumbs-up from those hicks!
Rating: -29
Martin Dunphy

I hear they are sponsoring a lecture on Freeman Dyson-inspired chicken-coop architecture.
Buck-buck: the music of the shperes.
Rating: -5
A cheap price for a hot ticket.
It seems that this article is written with the guidelines of "Know your audience, play within it."

These tickets are actually really cheap compared to what they could be, however TED focuses on the quality of participants rather than those that can pay the most.

I am not one of those quality people.
Rating: -6
For all of you who want free events with educated and experienced speakers, there's an online networking website:
Lots of business groups, seminars and networking opportunities exist here.
Events like this:
Where they host Expert Series for free.

Obviously, the free and local event don't receive the same PR as TED, but depending on your interest these discussions can prove to be more applicable in your profession.
Rating: +14
TED is a for-profit conference no different than the Taboo show or West Coast Women's Conference, for example, but for the price of entry. The price is engineered to create a perception of elitism by identifying disposable income as an indicator of worth. Using ability to pay the price of admission, as compared to Meritocracy, as a measure of quality only works if the consumer allows it to work. Much like buying a brand handbag v. commissioning a one of a kind artisan piece, there are many ways to spend ones money, hard earned or otherwise. More the fool who feels their worth must be advertised to the casual observer by virtue of buying ones way in.
Rating: +29
It doesn’t surprise me to see so much commentary based on value-worthiness (you are either in or you’re out, but either way it’s ‘because’ of your asset value. It does, however, give pause. TED’s basic business model is counting on it. Marketers target soft spots. In North America, financial illiteracy is the current marketing frontier, both in equating cheap with a bargain and pricey barriers to entry with value. When the public equates “ability” to buy (or borrow) with worth, raising the ticket-price as a measure of quality is easier than delivering on brand.

I can’t help but ponder whether the disposable income of ones followers is a measure of a higher, or lesser worth. Nelson Mandela. Mary Ann Shadd Cary. Jesus of Nazareth. Che Guevara. Mother Teresa. Malcom X. Martin Luther King. Susan B. Anthony. St. Francis of Assisi. What price of admission could the followers of these inspirational persons afford? And would these Speakers have selected a closed-to-the-general-public venue to market their ideas, if a “TED” had offered them a chosen speaker slot?
Rating: +12
Harcourt Fenton Mudd
Hopefully, this will help market that scandalously expensive Convention Centre West. Sure, the NDP had their fast ferries, but that building cost almost a billion dollars (budgeted at $400 million and cost $900 million). Hopefully the TEDsters will appreciate that ferociously expensive ultra-clear class, ordered from Belgium at four times the cost of North American made glass. And did the building really achieve a LEED Platinum rating? I heard from someone on the project that it did not. Yet according to one story, the LEED Platinum rating was one of the reasons for moving the TED conference to Vancouver.
Rating: -5
Gee i'm really wondering who are these people that can afford to pay $7500 and meet the rigorous maybe elitist "qualifications" for tickets?

Hope the "special" people enjoy TED.
Rating: +13
I am curious as to TED's policy re comp tickets. Might they seed the conference with some attendees that they know are worthwhile, but who might not be willing to spend $7500?
Rating: -1
TED is not the be-all and end-all, but it does provide a rapid exposure to a bunch of new ideas, which is stimulating and exciting. For $7500, I can find numerous ways to do the same thing for much more time than a single weekend, but I would be very happy to get comp or greatly reduced tickets and be able to go.
Rating: +9
Vince Johnson
It's not the atendees paying anyways, just like any corporate event, it's the corporations behind the attendees that pay the fees to the other corporation. Ideas are marketable, just like anything else. Corporations wnat their best going so they can network and do all that business stuff. The smart-cookie speakers are invited and don't have to pay. We don't have to pay to watch the smart-speakers on the internet!
Rating: +12


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