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It is a fact TED is a unprecedented success. How do you think it differs from other inspirational and original talks available online?

Hello global community :) At the moment i'm doing a dissertation for my MA. in social entrepreneurship. I am curious to know the underneath (sometimes subconscious reasons) why the individuals are so passionate about TED and what does it triggers in their lifes. Innovation? Reinforcement of personal talents? Creativity? awareness? a more personalized type of education revolution? A craving for authenticity and establishment of relationships? Empathy? A reconnection with millenary way of inspiring by story telling? Is TED playing a "digital parenting" role for individuals, especially for the young generation? Is it a tool for reforming education?

As you may see, there are so many questions! Please feel free to just pop intutitive ideas, feelings and visions ... They will all serve for my analysis.

Looking forward to reading your comments.

Thank you very much,


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    May 22 2013: My opinion is that TED does a good job of curation so that a combination of interesting talks are put forward, they are of a length that lets people fit them into a busy day, and they are pitched for an audience of non-specialists. The most popular TED talks are presented in an engaging way and without commercial marketing. Both these attributes are not true of much of what one might hear online.

    I think many TED talks, if not most, show what imaginative people are thinking about and doing, which, I believe, demonstrates that there is room for people from all walks of life to do creative and important things.

    I think TED talks, like other talks online, are part of many people's continuing education and entertainment. The talks are not set up to go into subjects in depth or promote expertise in the listener, but can give the listener ideas as to subjects and ideas he might try to pursue in depth through reading, study, or experience if he does want to gain an understanding of the area presented..
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      May 22 2013: Also, Fritz, if you watch those TED talks, the stage is physically more spectacular than it is for many presentations, it's bigger, it has more contemporary looking-screens for the speaker to show their photos or visuals. The stage looks different than many stages, isn't it usually rounded, and it has space both across and back. I would expect the speakers are encouraged to roam about, to really use that unusual stage.

      Also, it's lower than most stages, the speakers are down there close to the audience and lower than the people at the back, I think. It makes me think of a theater here in my hometown that is theater in the round with a low stage, except with TED it's academic subjects instead of light theater.
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      May 23 2013: Yeah, they also light those talks beautifully, whoever does the lighting I think gets just the right level of low light on the audience, and just the right level on the speaker. And whoever does the camera placement is really good, it seems like they're usually shot from the right looking down, and it just seems to work. Of course, none of this stuff would mean much if the speakers weren't great, but this other stuff helps.
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    May 22 2013: TED's selection algorithm: Is there an Idea here? If yes, does the Idea have worth? If yes, should the Idea be shared with enquiring minds? If yes, utilize state-of-the-art production techniques to produce, record, and broadcast the Talk.
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    Jun 15 2013: I spent last night happily immersing myself in TEDtalks. (I'd watched one a year or two ago, but since the link was sent to me I hadn't realized it was a series.)

    What struck me about the talks were their focus on the Idea. Each Idea received the audience's attention, accolades, and limelight (versus the speakers being there for their own glory or ego). Every speaker seemed to have happened upon an Idea which resonated with him or her. Upon pursuit of said Idea, each realized it not only resonated and helped them in some way, but could also help others. That seemed to spark (and/or intensify) a passion for the Idea itself. And, as passionate individuals are wont to do, they were eager to share. TEDtalk gave them a forum.

    As a first time observer I found myself emotionally drawn in by the passion ... and yet what kept me enthralled was the respect afforded to the Idea itself, by the audience and presenter.

    Contributing my two cents to a couple of your other questions in the comments, it was the passion that drew me in, the respect for the Idea itself that kept me there ... and watching the videos. (When given a choice I prefer to listen. Watching -- with the theatrics and goings-on -- is usually distracting, taking away from the message.) The TEDtalks offered three ways to receive the information: visual only, visual and auditory, auditory only. Three choices was manageable.
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      Jun 15 2013: Welcome Tana! I am so glad you joined. I hope you will enjoy my welcoming gift to you:
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        Jun 16 2013: Thank you Juliette, both for the welcome and gift.

        Sunni Brown's was the one TEDtalk I'd watched last year (or the year before) when the link was sent to me. As stated above, at the time I didn't realize TEDtalk was a series. I was enlightened last night (or the night before). Quite a high-quality series ... at least from what I've viewed in the past 24 hours.
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          Jun 16 2013: Aha! well you have come to a great place. When you browse through the 1500+ talks you can pick the ones on topics that interest you.The majority are brilliant. I click on the 'favorite' button to add them to my collection...That way I can go back periodically and listen again.
          As another welcoming gift then:) Here is another one of my top favorites for you;

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    Jun 1 2013: Hi Melina!

    It definitely is interesting that TED talks have become so powerful in communicating ideas. I stumbled upon TED talks a few years ago and had my mind blown when some of them truly spoke to who I was underneath. It's fascinating to sit, and listen to someone who is an expert in their field, explain something they truly believe to be worthy in a manner that makes sense to not just me but millions. There's something about watching someone speak than just simply reading their ideas that allows TED to keep breaking new grounds.

    I believe those that share their ideas on TED feel that they have stumbled upon something that may change at least one life for the good. They aren't just stating facts they have discovered but want to communicate what they found in eloquent ways to inspire, change and help those that are interested. As a game designer, when I am feeling uninspired, I listen to a TED talk to feel more empowered, and to get back the feeling of creativity that what I'm doing with my life is something I truly love. Over time this novelty of loving something can wane, but TED talks give back that novelty in inspiring ways - some of which I may learn from to better myself moving forward.

    I tried not to ramble too long, but I'm super passionate about TED talks and how they are capable to inspiring millions. My favorite? Simon Sinek's "How great leaders inspire action". I'm not a leader in my studio, but I aim to be one as a grow in this industry. This talk spoke to me in so many ways, that once I'm at that point in my career I hope to communicate the "why" rather than the "what" when designing.
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    May 28 2013: Hi Melina, thankyou for your query. I too am relatively new to this whole TED experience, tho feel that it provides an intellectual output for it's participants. There are enough options to engage people and when there aren't they have the option of asking their own query/idea/debate. In this way all the bases are covered.
    I have been on the internet for a long time since the 90's when it sort of was mainsream (compared to when first started in the 60's). The TED Community was the first one that I found that was set up to harness intellect and stimulated conversation. It seems to have such a broad range of topics and provides such a positive medium to explore either via watching talks or participating in a myriad of topics. I for one intend to be a regular participant. :D
    • May 28 2013: Hi ! thank you for answering :) DO you think Ted Talks would impact in more or less the same way if they would be only heard? Such as podcasting the events.. Do you think VIDEO as a ‘medium’ is playing a key role in the way to impact the community? Especially in this “distracted society”?

      Thank you,

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        May 28 2013: You might want to look into the TED Radio Hour: to get insight into the audio version.

        Talks would logically be planned differently for a video presentation than for a podcast. I have sometimes listened to talks without watching and have found that I missed a great deal that way, because speakers typically have a vital visual component to their presentations. Beyond this, many if not most people are drawn more effectively to material delivered by a speaking person than to his voice or words on paper. This is not only because we learn best by experiencing material conveyed in multiple ways but also because there are tangible brain-chemical effects of eyes seeming to meet.

        Obviously, there is a time and a place when video is impractical and audio or text are highly practical.
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        May 30 2013: Fritzie pretty much stole my thunder and beat me to the punch here. Essentially it comes down to time and circumstance. The ideal is to see and hear, as statistically (from memory, some 80% of communication is non verbal).
        Though if you are driving in your car, then being able to hear the TED podcasts is a good option. I in fact did it just the other night and really enjoyed the experience because I learned some really good stuff. It had to do with the Not For Profit charity groups and was inspirational.
        In this respect, I wish it was more available.Following from this thought process, it is not too much of a stretch to see or visualise a demand for tv/internet TED Channel views as an option for people to watch on their TV's when they get home from work as one of their what do I want to watch on TV now...
        Mark my words here... I told you so !!!!!
        What did you expect, I'm the Time traveller' :D
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          May 30 2013: I do not take cable television, but whatever it is I do take has a TED Channel. I have not tried it, as I listen to talks on my computer.
  • May 28 2013: Hi Melina!
    I haven't been on TED all that long, a few weeks now I believe. But it's the last thing I do online before I go to bed, and the first thing I do when I wake up.
    Like many of us, I have been a social-media user for quite some time. My reasons for joining online communities like Facebook or Twitter, besides keeping in touch with family and friends around the globe, were to broaden my horizons, learn from others, experience new things.
    Unfortunately, that has not been happening at all the past few years. After a FB visit, I would often feel down, drained, affected by the negativity, the materialism, the meaninglessness. Any attempt at a healthy debate or discussion turned into negative and destructive remarks.
    When I discovered this community on TED, in short, it restored my faith in humanity! I am reassured, and grateful, that there are others who, like me, are passionate about this world and how we can make it better!
    TED is a genuine, trusting environment, where ideas and thoughts are respected. I feel honored to know you all, and feel enlightened on a daily basis! In some cases, it is about trusting one another with our inner-most feelings, which is only possible due of the unconditional amount of respect in the unique TED community.
    • May 28 2013: Thank you Lizanne! I LOVE what you said: "in short, it restored my faith in humanity! I am reassured, and grateful, that there are others who, like me, are passionate about this world and how we can make it better!”

      Nice to meet you! Thank you for your opinion.

  • May 25 2013: I think an unprecedented success from TED is because it'sgoal and duty to recruite all kinds of people join in equally to discuss all topics to build a happier,better world around us.
    • May 25 2013: It is a fact that the curators of TED contribute with a lot of its success! Its just amazing how some talks can just make you feel so human. I believe we need to feel “human”. We need inspiration and mentors of life.. Thank you for your opinion.. All of our thoughts are helping me to build this dissertation. :)
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    May 25 2013: MGL, The TED community has 187,634 members ... many of TED talks and conversations are are results of assocoated links like You Tube. If you watch the Recent Commenters cube you will notice that the same 20 to 30 faces show up very often thus making the 10.5 million views spoke of earlier hard to achieve.

    TED talks, by design, are to engage. Look at the topics available ... to not have a interest in any of them is almost impossable.

    So here is my theory: TED Conversations allows you to be validated by and through others. We all seek validation, acceptance, and appreciation ... TED conversations allow that through feedback automatically. Regardless of your level of expertise you are now a player ... in a major game.

    Good luck on your dissertation. I wish you well. Bob.
    • May 25 2013: Its true Robert. Recognition its very important, especially for the youngsters. I am trying to understand this phenomenon from almost an “anthropological” perspective. I believe that we are craving for leaders, inspiration and mentors. TED is a great platform which offers this.About the validation… X factor is also a type of platform where “talents” are validated… But TED…. The stories and magic behind each speaker…Its as if the OLD culture of story- telling would be revived in a digital way. I am amazed by this phenomenon and the potential it has to change the lives of people.
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        May 25 2013: MGL, It is easier to address an issue on a known ... as your location is an unknown ... I will use the USA as a example. As you say we crave leadership. Whom do you consider the last real leader ... not politician ... leader. We have had no statesmen and the US suffers from a lack of diplomatic leadership .. we are a failed diplomatic nation. We have been and are being dumbed down. We are on the very verge of a recession and a repression and yet the media and a uncaring socialist inspired public are still loyal to the very people who have led us to this brink of disaster.

        We seek escape through movie, stories, TV, and the rich and famous. As all fairy tales must end so shall the people have to face the realities of the day. Where do you suggest that they turn to recieve true leadership and succor.

        We fail to learn from either the stories or from history ... on TED I have seen "arguments" on issues that should have brought us together ... we continue to argue ... not debate or discuss with open minds. In the USA, IMO, we are more divided today that I have observed in my 70 years and living in the least transparent society ever. TED does at least offer what is lacking in other communications a opportunity to express and face fears, hopes, and dreams.

        I wish you well. Thanks for the reply. Bob.
  • Jun 20 2013: "As you may see, there are so many questions! "

    Thats right Melina, and so my first question, is to question your assumption, in your first sentence. ie "It is a fact TED is a unprecedented success."

    So the question is how is it a success? You seem to not answer that, yet there in lays probably the most important question of all, which itself could be a thesis.

    is Ted a success because people see it now a large enough platform to 'sell' products and services on?
    is Ted a success just because videos view count? Or would we require action, if so how do you quantify that?
    is Ted a success just because people comment on what they have seen? Again is that a sufficient argument?
    is Ted a success just because it's a place to share ideas? Haven't documentary films done the same, yet the outcome of such sharing is not always action, or is just sharing the final goal?
    How is Ted different from a selective youtube viewer - who also comments?
    In fact how is Ted different at all from youtube given the above comments?

    While it might seem almost a fatuous statement to question is Ted a success, it's none the less important, as by defining what if any differentiates it from others, and what it's goals are, and questioning if they are a)worthy b)achieved - is probably I dare say one of the most important questions a student like yourself can ask.
  • Jun 4 2013: One of the most famous Quotes of Bill Drayton -Founder and CEO of Ashoka - is the following:

    “the most powerful force in the world is a big idea—if it is in the hands of a great entrepreneur. It’s how a very small investment can make a huge difference.”

    I think TED, is a great platform to SHARE IDEAS and inspire people around the world. I believe that maybe it is proving that it is not necessary for big ideas to be in the hands of great entrepreneurs to make an effect and create impact and in some way change the lives of others.

    People that watch TED may or may not be undertaking any kind of entrepreneurial activity after being so empowered by TED speakers, but they are sharing those ideas with friends, family, etc… In a way or an other being part of a social change.

    What do you think?
  • May 28 2013: At what time o your day / night do you prefer to watch If you could average the times… i suppose in your free time. however, do you watch TED sometimes in your work break to relax and tune off from daily stressful activities?
    Thank you,

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      Jun 1 2013: I watch some of my favorites during lunch breaks at work when I'm feeling uninspired. Working in a creative atmosphere all day can be draining at times, so TED talks breathe new ideas and life into what I do on a daily basis.

      Hope that helps! :)
  • May 23 2013: Its ironic that the second most viewed TED TALK or third is about LEADERSHIP. simon Sinek : How great Leaders inspire action” with more than 10.5 million views.
    This is just crazy!
  • May 23 2013: Thank you all for you answers. What do you think is the underlying reason this phenomenon is happening now? Well.. storytelling is a millenary method to pass knowledge from one an other.. Do you think that the global community (especially the youth) is in need of leaders? Are we craving for leaders ? A more ethical and human type of leaders? Leaders of life? Do you think that this mechanism of inspirational talks / leadership is a way to reconnect with each other? A new form?


    Now that you mention theatre. One of my favorite talks is the one of Sir Ken Robinson about how School kills creativity. I believe that he is a innate performer, he is entertaining and authentic. Personally i believe all teachers that are going to be part of this “reform” to education must pass through SERIOUS classes of performance! So that children can be able to really FOCUS. It is a fact that our attention span is getting tighter. Entertainment might be the “tool” needed for “engaging” all this new generation. What are your thoughts?
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    • May 23 2013: I agree. however… I’m trying to understand… When you watch a TED talk, you are in a way customizing you “education” or "continuing education” not only academic wise but “life” wise. Do you feel more capable of pursuing something after you have been inspired with TED? I love TED but I'm trying to see the big picture of it the underlying reasons. The masters I'm doing is in social entrepreneurship. Social entrepreneurs are seen lately as “saviors” of the world, passionate persons, leaders, creative, innovative ,etc…

      I find this characteristics in all TED speakers. So it takes to me to question if there is two types of social entrepreneurs : 1) The social entrepreneur who will make a social enterprise 2) the one who has a spirit of social entrepreneur, sometimes hidden until this PASSION sparks and they become this LIFE leaders which TED is exhibiting to the world…