TED2006 ended on Saturday with a beach party and lots of discussions about the many great (and ambitious) ideas that were expressed during the week, from Larry Brilliant's plan for a global early-warning system to Peter Gabriel's intention of using cell phones to expand the reach of witness.org, from Alan Russel's inspiring work on regenerative medicine to Jehane Noujaim's wish for a unite-the world Pangea Cinema Day and so much more.
I've blogged most of it, just check out the fifteen or so previous posts: or refer to the writing of my twin liveblogger and friend Ethan Zuckerman; other have also posted on TED: Kate Trgovac, Tom Guarriello, Sam Perry, Ori Okolloh, John Flowers, Loic Le Meur, Renee Blodgett, Bill Liao and Lars Hinrichs, and of course June Cohen and two guestbloggers at the conference's own TEDblog, which includes also a great flickr photogallery of the event. (The San Francisco Chronicle published a long report by Tom Abate yesterday, too).
And then there is Al Gore (picture). Who really played a key role in this conference, with a convincing wake-up call on the first day, a sequel during the closing session, and a constant presence and input throughout the event.
Al was also the main character in one of the untold behind-the scenes anecdotes of TED2006. Everyone at TED wears a badge, including recognizable faces such as Google's co-fonder Sergey Brin, Amazon's Jeff Bezos, actress Meg Ryan or former vice-prez Al Gore. But speakers are asked to take off their badge when they go on stage for the needs of video production - every speech is videotaped for the purpose of archiving them and for DVDs that will be sent to the participants in a couple of months. Well, Al forgot to take off his namebadge, and as he was walking on stage for his speech one of the stage technicians noticed it and tried to remove it. But the badge's cord was tangled up with the wire of the head-mounted microphone, and by pulling the first the technician was about to rip off the other. Al was walking, the audience was watching, and the introductory music was already playing. So without hesitation, the technician reached into his pocket and pulled out a Swiss army knife and just cut off the cord of the badge. That's a knife, albeit a friendly one, close to the neck of a former US vice-president...
Al smiled thankfully, walked on stage - and gave a great speech.