The annual Ted (Technology, Entertainment and Design) conference will not go ahead as planned, amid growing concerns about coronavirus. Instead, attendees are being asked to vote on whether to postpone the Vancouver-based event until July or hold a virtual one. A decision will be made next week.
Ted curator Chris Anderson said: “We are not cancelling. We have two compelling options for how to outwit this virus”. In an email to attendees, he said: “As you know, the Covid-19 virus is spreading around the world, causing many challenges.”We’ve heard from many of you asking whether we intend to press ahead with Ted 2020 – and the consensus of expert advice is that it would indeed be unwise to press ahead with the event in its current form in April.”
A summer conference in the last week of July is one option or else Ted will host a virtual event in the same week as the original was planned for, from 20-24 April. Delegates were asked to submit their preference via an online form. Mr Anderson acknowledged there was a risk a July conference could also be affected and, in that scenario, the conference would have to be held virtually.
While a virtual Ted would be compelling, he said, it would also have downsides. “It may not be easy to persuade everyone to really commit to spending most of the week this way,” he said. “And it’s hard to let go of the known joys of Ted-in-person.” Ted brings together some of the biggest names in technology and has become famous for revealing cutting-edge developments.
Its talks range from in-depth speeches on how to alleviate some of the world’s biggest issues, such as poverty and climate change, to personal takes on shyness and grief. The most popular talks gain millions of views online. And many of them are filmed at the annual event, which has been hosted in Vancouver since 2014. Speakers for this year’s event – dubbed Uncharted – had not yet been announced.
Mr Anderson said: “We feel passionately that Ted 2020 matters more than ever in the uncertainty of the current moment.”We’ve spent the past year putting together a spectacular programme designed to chart the future.” “Somehow, despite the global health crisis, we will seize the opportunity to share insights, spark action and host meaningful discussions of the ideas that matter most in the world.”
It is not the first technology event to fall victim to the growing coronavirus crisis. In February, Mobile World Congress, in Barcelona, was cancelled after mobile operators and handset-makers dropped out. Meanwhile, organisers of Texas-based South by Southwest (SXSW) say the event will go ahead as planned later this month, even though Facebook, Twitter and Amazon have all pulled out.