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Where the elite meet to greet

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Some of the world's smartest, most creative and interesting people are getting together today up in Monterey for the TED conference. The 3-day, $4000+ coffee klatch is invite only (we're sure ours got lost in our spam folder). At that price you'd think it might be a hard sell, but lots of people think it's worth it: the first 500 seats for the 2007 conference are already gone.

What makes TED so great? This year's speaker lineup includes futurists, an aircraft engineer, a military strategist, a violin prodigy, a Nobel prizewinner (chemistry), a pop star, a former US Vice President and the co-founder of our platform, Typepad. Speaker Bruno Guissani has a preview, noting that the audience is as important as the speakers. Adventurer Ben Saunders reveals the graphic social networking component for attendees, noting that with the gap around him he may have let a cyber-fart.

The TED prizes are $100,000; this year they go to the founder of Architecture for Humanity, a health advocate whose name actually is Brilliant, and Jehane Noujaim, who directed and shot the film Control Room.

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One of last year's winners was the photographer Ed Burtynsky; a slideshow of his pictures of our changing environment is online (via the Freakonomics blog).

TED is blogging, of course, but so far it seems like all the really cool action will remain offline.