Have I been *a bit* too hard on the TED Conference? I've been reading more. It's certainly great to see discussion of the project to document human rights abuses with digital cameras (Peter Gabriel), see the history of TED includes awards to luminaries in smart, scalable development like Bono, and much much more. TED conference blog
But there's still a HUGE problem with such events which provide economic barriers to entry that are so great they insulate the TED community from....the real community. Sure these guys have mechanisms to hear from and about AIDS children in the Congo, poor Chinese factory workers and Indian farmers, but the voices of these folks are absent as conferences like TED set the agenda for what some would call progressive change. (yes they have some free spots but they appear to be tightly controlled and very limited. This is a choir who likes to hear themselves preach).
I'm always amazed how well intentioned wealthly people often create microclimates of compassion that miss the big picture. TED is better than that, but certainly we need to find ways to have the most influential discussions about critical global issues take place on the global stage, not the 1000- at-$4400-per-person-half-caf-cappucino crowd.
(no offense to the full caf cappucino folks)