Here are the broad strokes of TED. It launched in 1984 as a conference around Technology, Entertainment and Design, and has grown to include not just its two annual events (in Scotland and the United States), but a host of related events, including TEDx, self-organized versions of the main shindig. Each event centers on the speakers, who deliver, typically in 18 minutes, what the promotional literature describes as "the talk of their lives." You have to apply to attend the big annual events, and if you're accepted it then costs several thousand dollars to do so. (The one I attended, in Long Beach, California, costs $7500 per person. I was fortunate enough to receive a press pass.) Even watching the live event via web video will set you back $995.