This post has been a long time a brewin’. In aniticipation I created a little ‘Great TED Talks’ sidebar over there which will have a rotating (and growing) list of some of my favourites.
First, what does TED stand for? What’s it all about?
TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from those three worlds. Since then its scope has become ever broader.
The annual conference now brings together the world’s most fascinating thinkers and doers, who are challenged to give the talk of their lives (in 18 minutes).
(retrieved from the TED.com FAQ)
My friend Matty G first tuned me into these talks and I have been all over them ever since. We used them at BrainBoost Tutoring to engage students in the discussion of complex or philosophical ideas – because the presentations tend to be quite engaging, it was difficult for anyone to tune them out. They had a way of making learning fun…not that it isn’t normally, but this was like ninja-style learning, as if you really had no idea what was going on, but all you knew was that you really wanted to be part of the conversation. Your brain was always going, ‘Hey, wait a minute!’ or, ‘NO WAY!’, and you would generally have the urge to shout out something. We even occassionally had students asking to pause the video so they could say something (not a common occurence in most classrooms where videos=sleep).
In any case, because the ideals of TED (a non-profit organization) are both lofty and inclusive (i.e. ideas have the power to change the world; they are free; so please spread them!), they really encourage others to use the videos in pretty well any way they see fit (so long as you don’t profit from them directly) – there is a list of ways you can help the TED mission on the site. If you’re interested in something, I don’t know, maybe ‘urban design’, you just search for it there and at least a half a dozen videos pop up. Or maybe you need a 20 minute break, just take a stumble through their themed archives and you are sure to find something extremely interesting. Some pretty big names from just about every field you can think of have gone at some point to the annual TED conference and wowed the audience; notables include: Bill Clinton, E. O. Wilson, Dave Eggers, Jeff Bezos, David Kelley, Louise Leakey, Richard Branson, Richard Dawkins, Jill Tarter, Steven Pinker, Dan Dennett, Silvia Earle, Malcolm Gladwell, and my oh my, the list goes on.
For marketers, you pretty much have to check out Malcolm Gladwell’s talk on product design.
A ha! Never mind! I’ve learned to embed! Scratch that. I most definitely have not learned how to embed video. You will need to click through on the links provided. Damn you strikethrough!
And below here is one of my favourite talks that I forgot about until recently. It is weird and wacky, but completely representative of the kind of creative and revolutionary thinking that goes on in the minds of TED speakers. And best of all, it’s short if you only have a little time to relax and unwind.
Update: New TED Talk from Evan Williams on How Twitter’s spectacular growth is being driven by unexpected uses. http://tinyurl.com/ba4uu7