Editor’s note: Jangl CEO Michael Cerda shares his impressions of the Technology, Entertainment, Design conference currently underway in Monterey, Calif.

The Technology, Entertainment, Design conference is going on this week (Feb. 27-March 1) in Monterey, Calif. If you haven’t heard of it, the idea is to give attendees a taste-test of some of the most exciting ideas brewing in the world right now. In the conference’s own words, it takes “some of the world’s most fascinating thinkers and doers” and challenges them “to give the talk of their lives in 18 minutes.”

My impressions of Day 1 of the conference follow, and there’s a link to Day 2 (on my regular blog) below. 

I’d only been at TED for an hour when I realized that the conference had already paid for itself. You get what you pay for and more in conference content, but it’s so about the people. In that first hour I had already talked with venture folks, business partners, marketing gurus, ad agencies, press, fellow entrepreneurs and friends. Oh, and I saw plenty of celebrities too, but that’s a given at TED and is beside the point.

The theme this year is “The big questions”. There’s a series of 18 minute monologues or presentations as well as a few musical or poetic performances. Each presentation plays into the theme of the show and an area of technology, entertainment and design. There’s a main hall for those who either paid big bucks or paid early enough, and a simulcast area for those who paid a bit less or a bit late (although I paid early and still ended up with a simulcast pass). The main hall is just like you’d picture an indoor amphitheater, while the simulcast areas are heavily decorated, comfortable furniture with big screens and cool lighting.

Lots of people are blogging the show in detail, so I’ll just note what stood out to me.

– Artist Chris Jordan tells stories in large format by pointing out stunning facts. Some of those facts: the aviation industry uses six million plastic cups every day and doesn’t recycle them; there are 32 thousand boob jobs a month; and 11 thousand people die daily from smoking. Jordan has illustrated all of these proportions in a single piece of art.

– Neuro expert Jill Bolte Taylor essentially narrated her own experience of having a stroke, displaying tremendous emotion and educational detail — the most powerful moment so far.

– Anthropologist Louise Leakey gave an amazing talk about how the human race originated in Africa. 

– Yogi Sri Sri Ravi Shankar delivered a simple message on the power of breathing — how it helps everything. Obvious to some, but perhaps not obvious enough to most of us.

 – BBC America taped a panel, looking into whether “The News” distorts reality. Sergey Brin and several others were on the panel. There were some technical issues, so someone began to heckle from the crowd. The heckling grew louder and funnier, and eventually Robin Williams was the culprit, jumping on the stage and riffing contextual comedy for about 20 minutes. What seemed derailing became great improv and turned out to be the highlight of that segment (more on that here).

All in all, this is an event that takes many of us out of our element and gets us to look through an abstract lens at life and humanity. This is only day one of four, so I’m sure most attendees, like me, will be buzzing if they aren’t already. Consider TED like a school for grownups, but a school that you look forward to going to.

To hear about Day 2, click over to my blog here.

Michael Cerda is co-founder and CEO of Jangl, Inc., a Pleasanton, Calif.-based company that connects mobile devices and online identities for those who socialize online and via their mobile devices.

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