The TED conference has been helping to blow people’s minds for many years now, and that’s in large part because they put videos of many of the TED talks online for anyone to watch, share, and spread for free. But there are a number of other conferences held each year around the world that also bring together visionaries, intellectuals, and luminaries from a wide variety of disciplines to discuss innovative ideas.
With that in mind, below is a list of the top 7 places to watch great minds in action. What makes these conferences special is both the people they’re able to assemble together in one place and that they put videos of the experiences online for everyone to enjoy. What other conferences attract the top minds in the world? Let us know in the comments.
Where: Long Beach, California and Oxford, UK (and soon Mysore, India)
What: Founded in 1984 by Richard Saul Wurman, the Technology, Entertainment, Design (TED) conference is a now three times per year gathering that brings together some of the world’s most influential and innovative creative thinkers to share, teach, and learn across multiple disciplines.
Why: At the first TED event, the brand new Macintosh computer and Sony compact disc were demoed, and the invite-only conference continues to impress attendees with mind-blowing talks and demos.
Where: Camden, Maine
What: Held every year in a quaint seaside village in New England, Pop!Tech attracts 500 visionary thinkers to a restored, 19th-century opera house to talk about “science, technology and the future of ideas.” Pop!Tech attendees are among the best and the brightest in their fields.
Why: The 3-day conference brings together people from “the sciences, technology, business, design, the arts, education, government and culture,” combining films, performances, demos, and talks.
Where: Providence, Rhode Island
What: Held each year in a theater in downtown Providence, the Business Innovation Factory’s annual Collaborative Innovation Summit is a meeting place for some of the world’s most interesting people. Attendees come together to discuss innovation and share experiences in a small, intimate setting.
Why: To quote TED founder Richard Saul Wurman, who is also a BIF advisor, “The Business Innovation Factor shares my passion for creating experiences that spark intelligent conversations.” The two-day summit BIF holds every year in Rhode Island is packed with such experiences.
Where: New York, New York
What: Gel, or the “Good Experience Live,” bills itself as “an eclectic, mind-expanding event that includes presenters from many different disciplines – design, technology, business, and so on – [that] attracts an audience of similar diversity.” The two-day conference has been held every year in New York since 2003 (and once in Copenhagen, Denmark in 2006).
Why: Gel is broken up into two days, each with a different set of events. The first is for direct experiences, workshops, tours, talks, etc. all across New York City. The second is a theater day in which the 600 or so attendees pack an auditorium for a full schedule of enlightening talks from very smart people.
Where: All over (but there’s one every year wherever TED is being held)
What: BIL, which stands for “Breeding. Impromptu. Luminary.” is an ad-hoc conference for big thinkers that’s held each year in whatever city is hosting TED. BIL originally began as a group of people planning to crash the TED conference in 2007 in Monterey, California (where TED was held back then), but as the group grew, they decided instead to hold their own unconference across the street.
Why: BIL is a conference style more than it is a conference. Like Barcamp, anyone can organize and hold their own BIL conference. So BIL conferences are popping up all over the world as places “for passionate people to come together to energize, brainstorm, and take action.”
6. Big Think
What: The Big Think is, in their words, “a global online forum connecting people and ideas.” The site offers a platform for connecting and engaging around big ideas and innovative concepts.
Why: The Big Think houses a sizable video library of interviews with some of the world’s brightest and most influential people. The videos are available for free on the site, and serves as a jumping off point for excellent debates and discussion.
Editor’s note: We’ve decided to exclude ideaCity’s video embed because of its autoplay feature. You can view the video here.
Where: Toronto, Canada
What: Held in Toronto every June, ideaCity is a three-day conference built in the mold of TED. Only 497 people get to attend each year to hear the conference’s 50 speakers.
Why: ideaCity brings together a very dynamic group of intelligent, creative people from a wide number of fields, 75% of whom are founders, managers, or executives at their places of work. That means its “legendary” parties are great venues for networking, but the conference is really about the spread of innovative ideas and creative discussion.
Reviews: Vimeo, iStockphoto