Dead Heads vs. TED Heads

- August 23, 2012

“TED comes to Santa Fe…”

A generation ago, Dead Heads thought they could change the world by listening to a kick-ass band. Today, TED Heads think they can change the world by listening to kick-ass ideas.

Of course, in any discussion of this sort one must admit that mind-altering drugs might have been part of the Dead Head equation. In the case of TED, it is the content of the talks that can be mind-altering. Dare I quote Marshall McLuhan and state that “the medium is the message.” There, I’ve given away my age—as if the shock of silver hair in the picture accompanying my posts doesn’t make that clear.

In a world where most people filter their media so narrowly that they only ingest media that supports their own, often ingrained, ideas and perceptions, it is both brave and refreshing to expose oneself to the myriad thoughts of TED.

If you are not familiar with TED, you should be. This is not the name of some random guy, but an acronym for Technology, Entertainment, Design – a series of talks, now enshrined on the Internet, in which some of the most important ideas in these three fields are spoken of by some of the world’s most fascinating thinkers and doers. Each is challenged to give the talk of their life (in 18 minutes). It started out in 1984 as a conference bringing together people from those three worlds. Since then its scope has become ever broader.

This is not the incessant chatter of FaceBook and Twitter—the narcissistic ruminations of everyone on the planet. These are people fully engaged in life and in their passions, who express those passions, in whatever form, to cause us to think.

Some of the best thinking on the planet comes through in the TED talks and, yes, I am a TED Head. There I’ve said it. It’s like standing up at a 12-step meeting and saying: “Hi, I’m Tom and I’m a TED Head.”

In the heading of this post I said that TED was coming to Santa Fe. Actually, TEDx is coming to our community. TEDx is yet another layer of this ongoing intellectual conversation that we are having as a species through the internet (thanks, Al Gore or whomever). TEDx is the epitome of “think globally, act locally.” These talks are “independently-organized events” in the TED talk mold and Santa Fe University of Art & Design is bringing an incredible slate of these events to Santa Fe as TEDx AcequiaMadre on Saturday, November 3rd at The Screen.

TEDx AcequiaMadre will highlight innovation in technology, entertainment and design featuring local speakers who dare to inspire and act. The University of Art & Design states that TEDx AcequiaMadre’s  “goal is to engage New Mexicans in dynamic dialogue and to serve as a catalyst for community mobilizing around ideas worth sharing and building upon. Hold onto your hats as our TEDx speakers deliver engaging, insightful and original three-, six-, nine- and 18-minute passion-driven presentations.”

Art & Design’s lineup is impressive and includes: Rachel Preston Prinz, architectural designer and historian; Meow Wolf co-founder Vincent Kadlubek; Amy Christian, performer, teacher, and activist; David Perez, self-described serial entrepreneur; Larry Littlebird, who celebrates an indigenous holistic way of life; and Jerry Wellman —co-founder of Axle Contemporary (that wonderful art gallery on wheels). For a complete list and information about this important event, visit the TEDx AcequiaMadre webpage at

I’ll be there for the entire experience and then attend my TED Head 12-step meeting.