Let's say you're Chris Andersen, steward of the TED conferences. Your high-class problem is that way more than 1000 people want to attend your annual Monterey event, paying $6000 more than a year in advance. (You do the math.) In fact, Andersen reports that there are 3000 on the waiting list. What do you do with all that pent-up demand?
Of course, you start other events, like TED Europe and TED Africa. But there are still so many people in the U.S. who want to be part of the experience.
Hm. Since the main hall at the Monterey Conference Center only fits half of the registrants, many of the attendees have already become accustomed to the "simulcast room" downstairs, where they watch on remote video. Why not do another simulcast room - 1142 miles away?
That's the idea behind TED@Aspen, a newly-announced program to bring TED to a larger audience. Attendees will join the Aspen Institute's Walter Isaacson and 300 others at the Institute. They'll pay half of what the onsite TEDsters do. And they'll participate in their own evening events.
I think it's brilliant. Imagine eventually having a dozen simulcast cities around the world, all linking to the source TED event (with the necessary timezone adjustments). At each location, at least one speaker could be a remote lecturer, as Isaacson will be. Ultimately, you'd have a living global network of simultaneous events. (My musings, not Andersen's.) Who knows? Someday, maybe there will be a real-time TED simulcast on Second Life, as well.
But for now, it's just Aspen. Some might call it "TED Lite." But for many, it might indeed be better than no TED at all.