03/06/2012 11:52 am ET Updated May 06, 2012

TEDx Comes to Aspen

Last week a few dozen of us Aspen Folk, TEDsters, and other TED addicts were invited by curator Kevin Ward to watch the first ever Aspen TEDx simulcast (from Long Beach). What a treat for seasoned TED addicts and also the TED newbies.

The marathon of TED talks took place at the home of Glenda Greenwald overlooking Aspen Mountain. The audience, including local bloggers, tweeters and politicos, were gushing over the fresh influx of speakers. You may know that a TED addict needs new speakers and ideas flowing all the time. And TED supplies the fix at any hour of the day. But if you can't make a live session in Log Beach, for example, a simulcast is as good as heroin -- albeit creative, healthy, and instantly engaging.

TED (Technology Entertainment and Design) combines active audience participation with an extraordinary collection of speakers. What's very cool about it is that the talks are about 15 minutes. I've spent many a glorious evening clicking on "one more talk," then "just one more," and "last one," and "just one more." You get the picture.

But it's oh so worth it. Filling your brain with new ideas has fewer calories than "just one more" piece of pizza. And it's one way to open your mind and heart to the rest of the world.

So what was the "TED Experience" for the Aspen TED participants a few days ago? It meant having Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency Director Regina Dugan pose the question, "What would you undertake if you knew you could not fail?" while demonstrating a dazzling array of DARPA projects -- including an existing Mach 20 hypersonic aircraft (New York to Los Angeles in 11 minutes) that involved many mis-steps along the way. ("The only way to learn to fly is to fly," she reminded us.) This of course reminds me of the famous Jesse.

There were five themed sessions, which progressed from 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. with 20-plus talks. Aspen TEDsters were alternately challenged and inspired -- the talks covered everything from self-organizing mini-helicopters to teen gospel choirs, the art of bird nests to energy policy, crowd-sourcing, algorithms to the virtual dissection to the sacred headlands of northern Canada.

Now here is something very cool for all of us in the Aspen Valley. In August, TED live is coming to Aspen (thanks to Kevin Ward)! So, in the salon the other day, Nancy Paley, Jim Aresty, Nancy Walker and others brainstormed with Ward on potential speakers for upcoming Aug. 10 and 11 talks.

Who would you like to see?