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Poch Peralta

Freelance Writer / Blogger,

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Is TED Talks a recipe for civilisational disaster?

This attack on TED by Benjamin Bratton is really searing. One reason he gave for TED not working is over-simplification.

'This is my rant against TED, placebo politics, "innovation," middlebrow megachurch infotainment, etc., given at TEDx San Diego at their invitation...'

'One TED speaker said recently, "If you remove this boundary ... the only boundary left is our imagination". Wrong.

'If we really want transformation, we have to slog through the hard stuff (history, economics, philosophy, art, ambiguities, contradictions). Bracketing it off to the side to focus just on technology, or just on innovation, actually prevents transformation.

'Instead of dumbing-down the future, we need to raise the level of general understanding to the level of complexity of the systems in which we are embedded and which are embedded in us...'
http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/dec/30/we-need-to-talk-about-ted

Jimmy Strobl requested that this video be added here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yo5cKRmJaf0

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    Jan 9 2014: Finally, someone from TED, curator Chris Anderson, reacts
    TED not a recipe for ‘civilisational disaster’

    'TED started off (30 years ago) as Technology, Entertainment and Design. But today it’s expanded to include any credible topic of interest, including all areas of science, culture and public concern. If more people understood subject matter outside their main interests, even if only at a basic level, our shared conversation would be a lot more productive. TED Talks are designed to facilitate that interchange. We’re as eager as anyone to address the complexity of the world’s systems. Paradoxically, that can only be done by nurturing a form of simplicity in how we communicate about them. That’s the only way to bring to the table a wide enough mix of people. Simplicity does not have to mean dumbing down. What we’re looking for is explanatory elegance...'
    more:
    http://blog.ted.com/2014/01/08/ted-not-a-recipe-for-civilisational-disaster/
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    Jan 5 2014: TED Ideas worth spreading .... I looked in the index and could not find the implementation branch of TED. As I listen to speakers on TED I know that 1) they have limited time 2) years of education 3) at least some creditability 4) that they cannot educate me in a few minutes 5) It is my job to follow up or forget about.

    If the purpose was not to talk about his work or his new book then why mention it. His friends bad experience with a donor was not TEDs fault ... it would appear that he made a presentation to someone who has a set outlook that is usually known in the community. He chose poorly.

    As he said in his talk ... he had no point.

    So if I want to sell books I go to TEDx and make a anti TED talk and it goes viral and as a listener I look up Ben Bratton and find he has a book out so why no buy one. TED gave this guy 15 minutes of fame. He cashed in.

    If you like TED this talk did nothing to reverse that .... if you do not like TED then you will reference it and the reader / watcher will find that it has little merit and you will be suspect if you make further recommendations.

    My opinion is that I wasted time on watching this talk ... But that's just me .... But I listen to a lot of talks that I know nothing about to learn and grow .... some are great and some less so (to me). TED gives me that option.

    As always Poch, you provide me with a chance to question myself and to grow .... as does TED.

    Be well my friend. Bob.
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      Jan 5 2014: 'My opinion is that I wasted time on watching this talk ...'
      You're not alone on that opinion Bob.

      'But I listen to a lot of talks that I know nothing about to learn and grow ....'
      Same with me. I even learn more when I write about them. One TED talk could even give us
      an idea that will push humanity forward. The trick is to concentrate on the positive side.

      You also provide me with a chance to question myself and to grow Bob. More power to you.
    • Jan 10 2014: "I looked in the index and could not find the implementation branch of TED."

      Mr. Robert Winner...you summed up any and all responses to this Benjamin Bratton with that one sentence.
      Now I feel like a dummy for writing all that I did! ha.

      Seriously though good post, this statement really is what this guy should have pondered before deciding to do this the way he did.
  • Jan 3 2014: TED in a nutshell:

    Evangelical surfer bro goes to help kids in Africa. He makes a campy video explaining genocide to the cast of Glee. The world finds his public epiphany to be shallow to the point of self-delusion. The complex geopolitics of central Africa are left undisturbed. Kony's still there. The end.

    I'm here just for entertainment. I have my professional publications in neuroscience and my work as a laboratory coordinator when it comes to "changing the world".
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      Jan 3 2014: Speaking of Kony, it makes you wonder why so many websites
      use him just for publicity and news circus.

      'I'm here just for entertainment...'
      A wiser option. And joining TED convos to sift true data and gain knowledge.
      'If you don't like what you see, you're always free to leave.'
  • Jan 3 2014: Ted is just a form of entertainment for people who have a great deal of surplus money (compared to most of the world) and the inability to be anything more than feckless dilettantes. It's really no worse than TV.
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      Jan 3 2014: LOL Now that is a brave opinion worth considering. Bravo Bryan!
      • Jan 3 2014: Nothing at all brave about it. After all, the "TED talks" are just concerts, in which celebrity guests speak and only a tiny fraction of the audience actually interacts.
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      Jan 12 2014: But Ted really somewhat interactive, compared with TV. TV is a concentarted (very stinky) garbage-can consisted of twisted "ideas" and loud "professional" opinions. You absolutely cannot participate in their network. (Maybe give them "your" answer as "yes" and "no" -- along with the rest of poorly educated but over-excited TV watchers.)

      Ted is allowing laymen and pros participate in conversations, though all that stuff is regulated and limited by ted.

      A few years ago I so wanted to put together a similar site, not for just conversations, but for actually discovering practical ideas to build our project - a very unusual futuristic town. However, the site of that technical caliber is impossible for me to finance.

      Well, I think Ted is ok to some point, conciderng the true poverty of choices. I have found a couple of very thoughtful , independently thinking people on Ted, it's already encouraging.
  • Jan 14 2014: What really limits humanity is myopic academic elites that need to judge and condemn others for seeking knowledge. "Instead of dumbing-down the future" we're looking for ways to make the future better, we're the ones on the front lines." How do I know this?

    Most of the people I met at TEDx San Diego are people working for companies or institutions that are looking to make a difference in the world. Most of the people I met talked about instilling values in their children so they could become the next generation of problem solving citizens. The people I met talked about volunteering in our communities doing things like coaching sports teams, doing beach clean ups and planting trees. You know, that "hard stuff that really changes how we think".

    And while you might not “raise the level of general understanding to the level of complexity of the systems in which we are embedded and which are embedded in us” during a talk of less than 18 minutes, what you can do is plant a seed of curiosity or as Victor Frankl called it in a speech called “Why Believe in Others” posted on TED, a spark.

    Most of us realize we don't have all the answers, hence we open our minds, listen to others and maybe, just maybe, we learn something that creates a spark, and that spark leads to "the difficult and uncertain work of de-mystification and reconceptualization" of something great, and if not, well at least it's better than watching Duck Dynasty.

    We all have a choice, we can illuminate the negative and shout it from an intellectual soapbox or we can look to see the positive in any given situation. If Victor Frankl can deliver a powerful message about the human search for meaning from a concentration camp than maybe Benjamin can come off his academic soap box and realize no one is watching a TED Talk to solve the world’s most challenging problems, it’s just one channel of thought in a world that need more thought, and we can all benefit from this, even myopic academic elites.
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      Jan 14 2014: '...maybe Benjamin can come off his academic soap box and realize no one is
      watching a TED Talk to solve the world’s most challenging problems...'
      I don't even think Bratton should climb the soapbox if he doesn't even know how to handle opinions.
      Thank you Purakai.
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    Jan 12 2014: Benjamin Bratton is being sensational. I dislike such frivolity.
    Over expectation breeds such frustration. TED is a choice. It's not a savior. Our wisdom comes from our life, experiences and our own motivations. TED is a mirror where we can see ourselves and reorganize if we like.
    I don't reckon TED is a cultural revolution so I am not worried that it may lead to cultural disaster.
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      Jan 12 2014: 'I don't reckon TED is a cultural revolution so I am not worried
      that it may lead to cultural disaster...'
      Now that is a statement that should reach Bratton Pabitra! I wonder if he could rebut that :-D
  • Jan 10 2014: There are more problems (to me) with Benjamin's argument, than he has identified for Ted.

    1.) "an actual scientist who produces actual knowledge should be more like a journalist who recycles fake insights!"
    Sure - maybe that Ted person made a bad statement there...one person, one statement. Find a company, organization, church, government, heck...even a family of 3 where 1 person has not said something stupid at least once. Really? This is a "reason" Ted is "bad"? Sounds more like he did not like being overridden.

    2.) "'Ted is' the proposition that if we talk about world-changing ideas enough, then the world will change. But this is not true, and that's the second problem."
    I have two issues with this statement:
    first issue - is that the proposition? and even if it is, should I care? I like Ted Talks, period - they have given me so many ideas, which I use in my life and my work - they have transformed how I deliver meetings at work.
    second issue - PROVE IT - prove to me that it isn't true...you can't. also...see my first issue - yes it brings change, just because you don't see it immediately happening in front of you, does not mean it isn't there!

    3.) "What is it that the TED audience hopes to get from this? A vicarious insight, a fleeting moment of wonder, an inkling that maybe it's all going to work out after all? A spiritual buzz?"
    If they do, so what? Who are you to judge? Those aren't "good" things? Sorry everyone is not as high-reaching and as important to change as you are.

    4.) Kony2012
    Never heard of it until now. But, sounds like you are right - it is an attempt that backfired. So to quote Randall from Clerks..."It feels so good to point out the shortcomings of others doesn't it?" - You cannot place the RESPONSIBILITY for an unsolved issue in Africa, on a failed PR campaign...really, that was the only hope they had? The "surfer dude"? Get Real. Better yet...What is YOUR solution then? Give a solution!
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      Jan 10 2014: 1. Seems nitpicking was Bratton's problem here.

      2.'... just because you don't see it immediately happening in front of you, does not mean it isn't there!...'
      Can't practice delayed gratification?

      3. '...everyone is not as high-reaching and as important to change as you are.'
      He can't put himself in other's shoes.

      4. Your hardest hit. If he can't suggest a solution, all his rants will look empty.
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    Jan 5 2014: I am pretty new to Tedtalks so maybe I'm missing some information that would help me understand Bratton's view. have there been some claims made by Tedtalks that I haven't heard? when I look around the TED talks website all I find is their mission to spread ideas and "leaverage the power of ideas to change the world". how did the transformation of the world and the solving of all the worlds problems get laid on the shoulders TED talks? that is a burden too big for any organization, and not one that I have heard TED talks asking for or claiming responsibility for, but again maybe I am missing some information. is the argument TED talks should not be spreading ideas or thatideas in themselves can't change the world? did TED talks some where make a claim or commitment to make every individual an expert? for me the talks are glimpses at what is going on in the world today and the Ted conversations are a place for me to clarify my own thoughts through dialogue with people from around the world that hold different opinions and thoughts. it is up to me to do something with these ideas and the blame for not acting on them lies with me not with tedtalks.
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      Jan 5 2014: '...Ted conversations are a place for me to clarify my own thoughts
      through dialogue with people from around the world that hold different opinions and thoughts...'
      Here's a good point from Jean:
      'It's important to exchange ideas with other people, especially on important topics. You never
      know which TED speaker might be the next great man/woman to push humanity forward...'
      I agree with you both Jacob.

      '...it is up to me to do something with these ideas and the blame for not acting on them lies with
      me not with tedtalks...'
      And you might just be the next TED talker 'to push humanity forward' by doing something with TED ideas.
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        Jan 5 2014: I might not use the tedtalks ideas but a talk I watched a few weeks ago motivated me to start back volunteering with habitat for humanity, which I havent done for years.
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    Jan 4 2014: TED works for me. I don't expect to find a great talk more than twice a month, so I can live with most talks being as lame as Bratton's.
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    Jan 4 2014: TED is around sometime , did it cause any disaster by now in any form anywhere ?
    If you know please let me know as I don't know.
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      Jan 4 2014: Any online social that causes a disaster doesn't escape the media Salim.
      So you don't have to worry about missing news about it :-D
  • Jan 4 2014: I hope TED is a recipe for civilization disaster, TED gives people the option to think about things that will improve our world. Look at the facts, in the long run things have gotten better when people have had time to think. So any website that gives people the opportunity to think and brainstorm can only be good for society. So to answer the questions simply, yes, though TED may not be the apparent cause.
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      Jan 4 2014: That's great insight seeing the positive in a recipe for civilization disaster!

      'So to answer the questions simply, yes, though TED may not be the apparent cause.'
      I agree. I'd rather lose all my other social networks than TED. Bravo Nick.
  • Jan 3 2014: If it were any more complex, it wouldn't appeal half as much to the general public, which makes the oversimplification unavoidable. After all, most subjects are far too complex for 10-20 minute videos, but if you go any longer, people start loosing interest.
    So basically, the general public gets either the simple version or nothing at all. Ideas have been simplified for mass distribution pretty much ever since ideas first came about--its unavoidable if you want distribution.

    Besides, I find that they're far too much emphasis placed on arts and philosophy already, and economics already has pretty much all the attention it needs. Also, how are we supposed to focus on "ambiguities and contradictions" when its not specified ambiguities and contradictions of what?

    Essentially, its all a load of hot air.
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      Jan 3 2014: '...most subjects are far too complex for 10-20 minute videos
      ...its unavoidable if you want distribution.'
      This reminds me of submitting short short stories to publishers. You have a word limit.
      You can't fully express the gist of your story if the limit is too short -- the editor gets bored
      if you stretch your story when the limit is too long and you get rejected.

      '...how are we supposed to focus on "ambiguities and contradictions" when its not specified ambiguities and contradictions of what?...'
      Ahh... you caught Bratton's hot air there. Great analysis!
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    Jan 16 2014: Scholarly objections to TED
    Research Isn’t Always Racy, and Value Is Not the Same as Profit
    'The ubiquity and power of the TED brand and network could facilitate intellectual superficiality. It could lead to the unholy Gladwellification of complexity, in which self-promoters foist trendy but reductionistic arguments on a fawning and uncritical global network. Some TED talks are great; others are mediocre or underwhelming. And is there any real-world follow-through?

    'But the deepest worry, I think, is that society could be duped into conflating any “idea worth exploring” with the sexiest, most of-the-moment topics that can be branded and sold by a speaker dressed like a cinematic ninja with a powerpoint presentation...'
    https://medium.com/p/82c3a3163c4f

    I consider TED more decent and scholarly than Wikipedia. That's why I spend most of my time on TED.
  • Jan 12 2014: Think I have said this in another similar discussion but Ted is like the internet and it is up to the viewer to watch, listen, read and evaluate what they think is good or bad. It is clear that there are many opinions, some I question but I bet there are many that question my opinions and thoughts. That is human. Saying Ted is bad is like saying all books are bad and we should burn them.
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      Jan 13 2014: 'Ted is like the internet ...'
      Jimmy said something in that essence on another convo. Bratton simply don't know how to
      handle opinions. I think that's the gist.
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    Jan 12 2014: Ted is a small step towards creating "safe" contacts among laymen and pros. It is not at all helpful in making changes for the better in reality, like organizing an advanced new research, or assisting in building some innovative pioneering projects, which commonly cannot be financed by stiff-minded investors.
    I'm only invited to participate here as a guest.
    I have to put up with the Ted rules - after all it is not my personal place.

    However, I must say that Ted allows me to see what other people might openly think about their own experience, without being worried that I am looking at them, meeting face to face, know their names and where they work…. It is a great feature giving some sort of freedom to express personal thoughts and opinions( though they often are quite stupid). I'm gladly support Brian, who's saying that is it a form of Entertainment.
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      Jan 12 2014: '...Ted allows me to see what other people might openly think about
      their own experience, without being worried that I am looking at them, meeting face to face...'
      That means you're shy and not being candid with your feedbacks Vera. Stop being that and
      you'll get better, more informative replies with your comments.
  • Jan 10 2014: 11.) "Keep calm and carry on "innovating" ... is that the real message of TED? To me that's not inspirational, it's cynical."
    I guess I just don't get that from Ted. Ted gets me excited, worked up, gets me motivated. I guess I pick the right ones to interest me? Dan Gilbert's two talks are so unbelievably good, I listen to both at least once a week, I practically have them memorized. Watch those - if you aren't impressed and inspired, and even shocked at how crazy your mind works and makes decisions...then well, I don't know what would impress or inspire you.


    Maybe you have outgrown humanity, which for all it's faults, is still really cool, constantly evolves/changes, and still has a lot to offer. Maybe you are mad about other things you are not telling everyone that have to do with Ted. Maybe you've seen too many of the more "odd" or "goofy" talks. I don't know, but in general, kids playing cool classical music at very young ages, virtuoso guitarists, a guy who shows interesting behavior in crows, psychologists who demonstrate what we are learning about our mind, a funny British "ad man" who confounds with his insights...

    I don't know where else I could go to get these things, all in one place. I really like Ted Talks - maybe you are right that Ted is not innovating the change like it would like to...

    If you are right, I would love to see you spearhead changing it, instead of just complaining about it. And that is what I like about Ted...its not like the news where I see someone complain about an issue for 30 minutes...then have no solution, no idea, no new insight, etc.

    I'll be cliche: Be the change you want to see in the world.
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      Jan 10 2014: You're great being solution-oriented Chris.
  • Jan 10 2014: 5.) "So our machines get smarter and we get stupider. But it doesn't have to be like that. Both can be much more intelligent. Another futurism is possible."
    True...and you're not the only one who thinks that. There are Ted talks about the very same thing!

    6.) "E and economics"
    ??? This one puzzled me, had nothing to do with Ted, just said communism and capitalism have issues, and there should be better solutions out there...ok cool - write up a Ted Talk and let's hear your proposal!

    7.) "D and design"
    exactly the same as 6 above...sounds like maybe there are certain Ted talks you don't like? Who cares! There are ones I don't like either! But there are ones that I love.

    8.)"I would like new maps of the world, ones not based on settler colonialism, legacy genomes and bronze age myths, but instead on something more … scalable. TED today is not that."
    also the same as 6 above...Let's hear it!!!! You are doing what both sides of the isle of American Congress does..."Hey, your idea sucks...but no, I don't have one." Well that is just awesome, thanks for that.

    9.) "Problems are not "puzzles" to be solved. That metaphor assumes that all the necessary pieces are already on the table, they just need to be rearranged and reprogrammed. It's not true."
    Actually yes, they are. Either a problem can be solved (and therefore the pieces are somewhere "on the table") or it can not - either way, you have to check all the pieces!

    10.) "If we really want transformation, we have to slog through the hard stuff (history, economics, philosophy, art, ambiguities, contradictions). Bracketing it off to the side to focus just on technology, or just on innovation, actually prevents transformation."
    Uhhh...plenty of Ted talks are unbelievably complex and delving deeply into the issues. Do we see the same Ted talks?
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      Jan 10 2014: 'There are ones I don't like either! But there are ones that I love...'
      He should learn to focus on the positive.

      'Bracketing it off to the side to focus just on technology, or just on innovation,...'
      But is TED really just focusing on technology or innovation? Maybe he only sought what he wants to
      use for his rant.
  • Jan 6 2014: If we really want transformation, we have to slog through the hard stuff (history, economics, philosophy, art, ambiguities, contradictions). Bracketing it off to the side to focus just on technology, or just on innovation, actually prevents transformation."

    I support the above statement.

    Whether heaven or hell exists or not , but the way the world is moving in a fast and furious way towards the unknown direction , it seems that within 50 years the world will become a place of hell to live.

    If we human beings do not wake up from the deep sleep now and stop living in the world of fantasy , the world will become Hell for the future generations.

    With the advancement of technology and science the progress and development is happening in leaps and bounds externally , but the progress and development of inside has become stagnant and degrading too.

    We human beings live in the illusion that we buy products and services to make our lives happy, but in reality we human beings have become a product and service in itself in the hands of market.

    Today no relationship is based on love,compassion,emotions and feelings, but is based on economical value of the person.

    All over the world people are fighting and killing each other for imaginary things and imaginary fear.

    As far as TED is concerned , it is just the one step and many more steps are needed to finally manifest the talks and to make this world a better place to live.
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      Jan 6 2014: '...it seems that within 50 years the world will become
      a place of hell to live...'
      I think hell is already here and the Fukushima nuclear disaster started it.

      '...in reality we human beings have become a product and service in itself in the hands of market...'
      Very evident in online commerce and advertising and social networks. Create an account with most
      of them and they will keep tracking you and selling your private data.

      'Today no relationship is based on love,compassion,emotions and feelings, but is based on
      economical value of the person...'
      I have a close relative who is a nice pleasing person. Then I learned about his marital hell.
      After analysing his problem, I found out he value persons according to the size of their
      salaries---which backfired on him because he was having problems with getting employment
      and his budget was getting tighter.

      '...many more steps are needed to finally manifest the talks and to make this world a better
      place to live...'
      The wise person said taking responsibility is the first step towards solutions. I agree with that.
      Thank you for your useful feedback Santokh.
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    Jan 5 2014: in this age of NASCAR, fantasy football, and reality television the real waste of time for me was listening to someone rant about an organization who has committed themselves to spreading worthwhile ideas.
    • Jan 7 2014: Slacktivism forever!
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        Jan 7 2014: Had to look that one up, never heard that term before, and I'm still not sure that I know what you're pointing to. Are you saying there's no practical effect of spreading worthwhile ideas, or that the ideas that TED is spreading aren't worthwhile? Sorry man, please clarify for me, I don't know how to respond.
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    Jan 4 2014: I don't think that there was much of a point in Benjamin's Talk, except the one of sensationalism, there might be a danger there. But on the other hand it's better to be sensational about important stuff than what's usually being shoved down our throats (mass media).

    However, as I've said many times: We NEED to Talk about TED! The institution and the website, we need an open discussion!

    You should perhaps add the Talk to the explanation since it does him greater justice than the article :)

    It's: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yo5cKRmJaf0
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      Jan 4 2014: Ahh... right. Bratton could just be using TED to make himself viral online.
      Naughty but brilliant anyway!

      Ok sir. I've added your video to the post. Thanks.
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        Jan 4 2014: Did you watch the Talk? If so how do you think that it compared to the article (that was actually just a transcript from the Talk)?
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          Jan 4 2014: I didn't see any difference between the talk
          and the article. But the article seemed ferocious and the talk did not! And that's
          related to what I'll say next.

          I discovered something significant: we won't feel the real emotion of a speaker
          just by what is written. We have to watch him actually speaking!
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        Jan 4 2014: I agree, that's why I tricked you into watching the Talk... Asking you to compare them "forced" you into watching the Talk. A Talk that I suspected that you didn't watch fully when I first shared it. Very few care to take the time to review something that they think that they already know, I'm glad that you did.

        And perhaps your insights may also be applied to TED Conversations? Since we don't get to really see each other and there is so much conveyed in our way of speaking and our body language.

        Hope that you're not offended for me "tricking" you into this, if that was what I did do and my assumptions are right that you didn't watch the Talk before.

        Forgive me if I'm wrong about my assumptions.
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          Jan 4 2014: You can trick anytime you want as long as
          the result would be enlightening or fun you rogue. You're only the third of my
          hundred online friends who could read my mind!

          Now you see I don't have to forgive you for the trick and your assumptions.
          I'm grateful instead.
  • Jan 4 2014: How is an exchange of ideas a recipe for disaster? The world we live in was built on ideas, we're living the dreams of men and women who marked history and we don't even realize it. We take our minds for granted and waste time on distractions like Television and other things when we could be creating amazing realities for future generations. What if Hitler hadn't thought of exterminating the jews, think about the many inventions that wouldn't have happened, and think about how the present might have possibly looked. Our physical world is a manifestation of what we have in our minds. Tesla thought about a world with electricity and took the first step, and now we have a world with electricity. Steve Jobs thought about a world with computers and took the first step, now we have a world full with computers. George Washington thought of a free nation and took the first step, and now we have America. I can keep going, but do you get the point? We create our world as we go. The higher your consciousness, the higher your platform, and when you're on a high platform, people listen to what you have to say.

    It's important to exchange ideas with other people, especially on important topics. You never know which TED speaker might be the next great man/woman to push humanity forward. A single thought from another person can be the spark needed to light the fire in a genius' mind.

    "Great minds talk about ideas, average minds talk about events, and small minds talk about people"
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      Jan 4 2014: Yes I see your good point Jean.

      'It's important to exchange ideas with other people, especially on important topics. You never
      know which TED speaker might be the next great man/woman to push humanity forward...'
      Yes. Of all social networks, it's TED I trust to do that.
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    Jan 4 2014: it's not only TED. all forms of media do this - it's what i think of as t-shirt sloganeering.

    i'm not sure that anybody actually expects talking and blogging about world issues will go anywhere towards solving them but it's interesting and entertaining to debate opinion.

    if it inspires people to dig a little more into a topic they are interested in then that's good, i suppose, but social networking of all kinds is just 21st Century gossip sessions.

    it's a little like the way people think hand-held and digital devices are going to make the world a better place. the vast majority of people are achieving nothing more than increasing the levels of convenience in their lives which, arguably, has little real value beyond cramming landfills to capacity
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      Jan 4 2014: 'i'm not sure that anybody actually expects talking and blogging
      about world issues will go anywhere towards solving them but it's interesting and entertaining
      to debate opinion...'

      And debating opinions will almost surely gain us knowledge. Thanks Scott.
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        Jan 4 2014: well, debating is possibly not an accurate description of posts on social network sites but TED seems to be slightly better than sites like youtube.

        still, when it comes to debating i'm partial to Aristophanes' take on it: "even if you persuade me, you won't persuade me"..