TED Conversations

Hafiz Juma



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Is the new TED initiative of "Ads Worth Spreading" worth supporting?


I am pretty sure I will come off sounding like a hyper-critical pseudo-leftist sympathizer by putting this question up for debate. However, I feel it relates to a growing trend in contemporary life.

Firstly, is the TED initiative an endorsement of capitalism? Or to add a layer of criticism, is this a push towards cultural commodity fetishism as illustrated by Marx and elaborated by Benjamin? What happens in a society when the lines between culture, art, commerce, 'philanthropy' and development are blurred.

Or are we simply to accept that there exists a distinction between Art and Culture and the Art and Cultural industries? If so, how does that affect how we relate to things like TED, Museums and Academic institutions? Are we still capable of taking content at face value? Especially when a clear trajectory of an agenda surfaces (see TED and Africa, TED and Women, TED and the Acumen Fund)- albeit for an ultimately 'good' cause or one with seemingly good intentions?

On the other hand, if the only alternative to an Art as an industry is Art as therapy, is all art produced, regardless of intended implications (whether it be for a cause that is capital-averse or humanitarian, what is Art? Is it a socially dependent process requiring audience and a connotation of value?

I think this is a complex question that requires debate, however, does this inevitably take us to the conclusion that art is inherently capital-driven?


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  • Apr 29 2011: It seems most of the comments here are about whether or not TED should be supporting advertisements. It seems to me that in a way, TED has always promoted businesses, products, or sell-able ideas. As we move toward a horizontal relationship with companies and advertisers, supporting quality, trustworthy, entertaining and informational ads will improve our understanding of the lives around us.

    It's like the ted talk "The antidote to apathy". TED talks are fascinating in content, but fairly old tech in presentation. A speaker on stage using still powerpoints. Flashier presentations, like RSA animate or these ads, can provide more memorable video that engages you to remember more and take action rather than just interest.

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