Email a copy of 'TED Recap: A Fornication of Ideas Pt. 1' to a friend

* Required Field

Separate multiple entries with a comma. Maximum 5 entries.

Separate multiple entries with a comma. Maximum 5 entries.

E-Mail Image Verification

Loading ... Loading ...

TED Recap: A Fornication of Ideas Pt. 1

TED Shoes

TED Global 2010 wrapped up last week in Oxford, UK. As a TED Senior Fellow, I’m lucky in that I’ve now attended three TED events and I’ll also go to the next three. To be totally honest I’m hooked, so even after my Fellowship is over I’ll continue to fork over the $6,000 per ticket (not including travel) to keep attending if I can afford it.

I know what you might be thinking. What is TED? Why is it so expensive? How can any conference be worth that much?

TED started some twenty years ago as a gathering of successful intellectuals and scientists who gathered once a year in Monterrey, California to discuss their multidisciplinary fields. Topics ranged from the Art to neuroscience, to astrophysics, to global developmental aid to crime statistics. It was a forum where the riveters could be riveted, where traditional logic was challenged, and where ideas worth spreading were proposed.

Fast-forward to now and TED is probably the most powerful international brand no one has ever heard of. Seriously, there are two possible responses to people when I tell them about TED:

“What is that? Never heard of it.”


“Holy kaw! You went to TED!?!?”

There’s not really an in-between. People seem to either love TED Talks, or they just aren’t aware of them. In 2007 the little exclusive, and somewhat elitist club I mentioned above decided to open up. They began filming all the talks at their annual conference and posting them online. Today TED talks (there’s under 1000 published) have been viewed over 300 million times! It turns out there was a huge nascent audience for prerecorded talks exploring niche, ultra-intellectual and entertaining subjects like string theory and bat guano.

It’s one of the few places in the world where people like Bill Gates, Cameron Diaz, Annie Lennox and Malcolm Gladwell can all sit captivated by speakers waxing philosophic about “the communal brothels where ideas have sex” a.k.a. coffeshops.

The stigma of ‘elitism’ has stuck with TED for better or for worse. Partly because it’s nearly $10,000 (with travel expenses) a seat to do. But mainly because even if you have the money, and even if you want to spend it to go, TED can still deny you a seat. The selection requirements to attend are a bit ambiguous. But as much as they curate the speakers whom they invite to their main stage, they also curate their audience. In college my art-school friends would have referred to this as ‘maintaining a vibe’. In other words, TED’s the ultimate ‘in’ crowd. So not only do you risk your hard earned cash, but you can also get your feelings hurt!

In recent years TED has begun to explore new ways to share it’s content and brand with the world. With TEDx, anyone who’s been to a TED event can put on an event ‘inspired’ by the TED experience. With TED Global, TED has hosted evens outside of America in India, Tanzania and the United Kindom. There’s one off ideas or special events like TEDWomen, TEDYouth and TEDxChange.

TED Fellows 2010

The TED Fellows and Senior Fellows program is how I got involved with TED. Basically, the idea was to gather young social entrepreneurs, artists and activist from all over the globe, curated by how interesting TED finds their work and invite them to the conference. There’s no real age limit (the youngest Fellow was 17 while the oldest is in his or her forties) or obvious preference. The TED Fellows come from all over the globe, Venezuela, Nigeria, USA, UK, India, Pakistan, Uganda, Kenya, and many more places.

But perhaps the boldest move TED has made since releasing all of it’s talks online for free in 2007 came in 2010 when TED announced that any broadcast media company in the world could air their talks for free! To me TED is like higher-brow, adult, equally-educational version of what PBS was for me as a child. Now the talks actually can air in syndication for all to see.

So what’s the TED experience like? Find out in Part 2.

Share and Enjoy:
  • Twitter
  • Digg
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
  • muti
  • StumbleUpon