The super-secret TED@MotorCity Salon sponsored by Lincoln was held last night at The Music Box in the Max M. Fisher Music Center in Detroit. TED is a global nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading.The theme of the event was “New Tomorrows” and promised world-class speakers but didn’t divulge any other details prior to the event.
Why so secret? More on that later.
As we begin the press previews for the 2011 North American International Auto Show, Detroit is in the spotlight not only for the automotive industry but also on how a city can look to the future and reinvent itself.
From the TED@MotorCity program:
Tomorrow inevitably represents new hopes, and provides us with new opportunities. What does tomorrow look like? What will it mean for our lives and work?
Tomorrow will bring changes that we can’t anticipate. Tomorrow is close enough that we can almost touch it – but far enough to allow us the freedom to imagine new horizons.
The curator of the evening was Gary Bolles of Xigi.
Thomas Goetz, executive editor of Wired Magazine. "Better health is not a science problem, it's an information problem,” Goetz told us. By finding better ways to deliver the information through design and technology we can put people in more control of their health. For those working on losing weight and improving their health, Goetz recommended some gadgets and the app Lose It!
Dale Dougherty, founder of MAKE Magazine and Maker Faire. Dougherty affirmed, “We are all makers.” Makers used to be mainstream but not anymore. Makers are playing with technology and we should make sure that the next generation are makers.
John Gallagher, Detroit Free Press journalist and author of Reimagining Detroit: Opportunities for Redefining an American City. I’m a few chapters into Gallagher’s book so I was excited to see him on the program. He said that cheap energy allowed for urban sprawl and now that cheap energy is a thing of the past we must look back to our cities. People want to live, work, and play in a walkable city. We must strive to get back to that and provide alternative public transportation.
Craig Newmark, founder of Craigslist. Gary Bolles commented on how Newmark was the most connected person in the world. And isn’t that what we’re all looking for, whether personal or professional, is to make a connection? He mentioned accountability in journalism and how to get the news outlets to get it right and do it honestly. I immediately thought of Stephen Clark, WXYZ, and the #backchannel that they have created. I especially liked the comparison between Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert to the Shakespearean court jesters. Stewart and Colbert don’t want to be considered professional journalists. It’s just: be funny or die! And, get the facts right.
Jessica Care Moore, poet and playwright. She performed at TEDxDetroit and this outing was just as inspiring. It brought chills. She ended with, "In this room I see ideas everywhere. Do you?" Yes, I see the ideas. Now is the time to act on them.
Lisa Gansky, entrepreneur and author of The Mesh: Why the Future of Business is Sharing. Ganksy told us that our digital tomorrow depends on the meshing of 3 key ingredients: social, mobile, and physical goods. Zipcar was used as an example of how a “brand is a voice, the product is the souvenir.” She asked the automakers to make “share-ready” cars and told the audience to share their failures.
Why the secrecy?
I have no idea. My thought is that TED (without the x) is an exclusive brand and Lincoln was aligning themselves with that elite group. Lincoln surely delivered on the slick event; it was top shelf.
The usual pre-event buzz wasn’t their priority. Instead they had many local Detroiters in the twitterverse scratching their head in a “how did I miss this” type of way.
To be fair, it is my understanding that the invitation was sent to the entire TEDxDetroit database. So, why weren’t those that were planning on attending talking about it? A simple line in the invitation reads:
Also, please, no blogging nor tweeting this invitation/event before it takes place.
TED@MotorCity and Lincoln proved that an event doesn’t need the “this event is going to be so cool” buzz to, in fact, be cool.
Detroit is on a precipice and the people and their actions and decisions are going to decide which way it goes. Our “New Tomorrow” is up to us.
Feedback, makers, reinvention, connection, and sharing. That is our “New Tomorrow.”
TED@MotorCity not only delivered world-class speakers but it was world-class all the way around.