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Most Innovative Meetings 2014: #6 TED/TEDActive

On the occasion of the signature event’s 30th anniversary, organizers breathed new life into the buzzy conferences by moving them north to Canada and creating new opportunities for engagement.

By Mitra Sorrells December 9, 2014, 5:30 AM EST

At the TED Conference in Vancouver, TEDx organizers snowshoed to their workshops on top of Grouse Mountain.

Photo: Bret Hartman

For its 30th anniversary, the Technology, Entertainment, and Design conference, commonly known as TED, moved from California to Canada in March. The main gathering took place at the Vancouver Convention Centre, while its parallel event, TEDActive, met 80 miles north at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler. Along with the standard brief talks from a carefully selected group of worldwide presenters, the TED Conference included experiential activities for its more than 1,200 attendees, such as an Oculus Rift tour of the International Space Station, provided by Microsoft in partnership with EyeWire, and Metaspace, an immersive sculpture that made light audible.

At the smaller TEDActive, about 700 attendees watched a live feed of TED Talks in a more casual setting that included a variety of interactive elements. In the writers’ studio, guests submitted content for the event’s blog, while in the music studio they created tunes using an electronic synthesizer and Boomwhacker instruments. One attendee invited guests to contribute words to a song she created on site and performed on the final day. For the TEDActive gift exchange, attendees were encouraged to bring gifts symbolic of their regions of the world (64 countries were represented) to swap at a “leave one/take one” table. In recognition of the anniversary, organizers created a timeline and invited guests to share their predictions about the next 30 years.

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