Sometimes people get so used to using acronyms that they assume that everyone knows what they are talking about or that it could only stand for one thing. Such is the problem when you ask people if they have heard of TED. They either ask, “Ted who?” or think it is referring to United Airlines. The TED I am referring to is an organization that helps spread ideas and stands for "Technology, Entertainment and Design.” This will be something that I will be referencing often so I thought I might enlighten those who are unfamiliar.
TED started out as a meeting place where people from those three fields (technology, entertainment, design) could get together and swap ideas. Since its humble beginnings in 1984, the conference has grown to encompass global issues, business, science and the fine arts. Additionally, TED now has its own website that hosts videos of past speakers, a blog discussing various topics and a community of people that comment and discuss ideas.
Some people might read that and think “Snooze-fest” or “this has nothing to do with me,” those people couldn’t be more wrong. Okay, I admit it. I was the one thinking those things. I had first heard of TED on a design website I read and I had no idea what he was babbling about. Then someone sent me a link to one of the talks which was by Hans Rosling (I hadn’t heard of him either) about debunking third world myths. The video was eighteen minutes and I, admittedly, didn’t watch it for a long time. Then one day when I needed to kill some time, I watched it. I was floored. It was amazing, funny, informative and the time just flew by. My interest was peaked and I began learning more about TED and watching more and more videos.
It is comprised of fifty speakers over four days who only get eighteen minutes to present and takes place in Aspen, Colorado. Sometimes they have musicians and comedians perform in between and that can range from five to ten minutes. The only way to go to TED is to be invited. They only let 1,000 people attend and it can cost $6,000 (but this includes books and CDs you get throughout the year in addition to getting to go and an awesome gift bag). This is the point where you think to yourself, “You have got to be kidding me.” Sounds kind of crazy I know, but if I got an invitation and had a spare couple of thousand dollars lying around, I wouldn’t hesitate to go. I almost want to do something epic just to be invited. That's right I might change the world just to be able to go to a conference.
So if you aren’t on the invitation list and you don’t have the money to go, how can you partake in this amazing conference? Good question. They post the videos online for you to watch for free. They are always adding new ones and they have it broken down into categories if you don’t know where to start. The categories are: date filmed, most emailed, most discussed, most jaw-dropping, most persuasive, most courageous, most ingenious, most fascinating, most inspiring, most beautiful and funniest. When you finish watching a talk, you can rate it for others to find or not find as the case may be.
So when you are looking for something to watch and you just can’t suffer through another “who is smarter - you or a hammer?” type shows, turn to www.ted.com and watch a video or twelve. Eighteen minutes is the same length of a half-hour show without commercials and you will definitely learn something new or thing about something in a new way.
TED has made all the videos free to post and link to because they are all about spreading ideas. If you are looking for the right one to start with, here is one of my favorites and it is only 10 mins!
I hope to post more of these videos and discuss them.