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When TED Went to State

BY Nancy Scola | Friday, June 5 2009

Video of this week's TED@State talks has yet to pop up, but TED.com editor Emily McManus has helpfully blogged what the State Department was calling the first ever U.S. government-sponsored TED talks. McManus's summaries are worth a click through if only to see Clay Shirky in a suit, but here's a quick round-up at what the assembled visionaries had to share with the diplomatic class.

Oxford Economist Paul Collier dismissed election-driven intervention into failed states, focusing instead on "jobs, health, clean government." The Acumen Fund's Jacqueline Novogratz told how drip irrigation made its way from large Indian farms to smaller ones through small and patient investment. Futurist Stewart Brand's talk, which McManus seems to rather sensibly avoid turning into soundbite form, focused on the unique meaning of cities. And the aforementioned Shirky, bedecked in black suit, gray shirt, and red tie, talks about a subject near and dear to us -- the transformation in the political landscape that can occur when consumers become creators.

The TED@State talks seem to have been popular. A note on the TED Flickr stream describes "a line out the door" of Dean Acheson Auditorium just to get into the event.