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Amgad Muhammad

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Why Technology talks receive fewer standing ovations

I was introvertly celebrating watching over 200 TED talks last night on TED.com and I was visiting my profile to take a look at my 3.5 years of knowing TED and one fact just pop out: “Tech guys receive fewer standing ovation.”

I'm not talking about using technology as a platform for ideas (like Khan Academy). I'm talking about inventions and breakthroughs. The speaker -at best- gets a lousy 4 seconds clap in a conference where the T initial stands for Technology and were you can see tech elites like Bill Gates and Sergey Brin among the guests.

I don't have a research to support my allegation, just a mere observation. But I wanted to know why fewer people appreciate TED techies when they turn sci-fi into live demos on stage!

So there're basically two things to discuss here:

1) Are the tech speakers doing it wrong? Do they fail to make their inventions engaging? do tech inventions need special presentation skills?

2) Or are we becoming less inspired by what tech. provides, taking it for granted?

What's your thought on this?


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  • Jan 8 2014: Its due to the fact that the vast majority of the population knows very little of, and doesn't understand technology (at least on a more technical level, most of them know it on a user level just fine). On the other hand, most people know humanities just fine, because they're easier to grasp, and often more interesting for most people.

    Therefore, most people identify less with the more technologically oriented talks, in the same way they identify less with the people making the technology.
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      Jan 8 2014: Well said Nadav, and I agree.
      Being a right brain dominant person, technology often goes over my head.....so to speak:>)
      I appreciate it, am in awe of technologies and the creators of technology. While it is all interesting to me, I probably would not be moved to give a talk about technology a standing ovation because I do not always understand it:>)
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      Jan 9 2014: Nadav! excellent point.

      Do you think humanities are more represented in education than technology?
      I mean, shouldn't it be a little more important that children grow up knowing that technology is magical but also takes lots of effort? To give them the ability to sense the beauty of technology when it's presented in front of them?
      • Jan 9 2014: Most people simply don't have the mathematical nor the technical sense for the more scientifically oriented disciplines. How much this results from environment or genetics is hard to say, but one way or the other, we end up in a situation where only a small fraction of the populace knows the first thing about the technical aspect of technology, despite almost everyone being familiar with it on a user lever--somewhat absurd, really.

        Given that technology affects practically every aspect of our lives, and its improvement usually leads to an improvement in quality of living, getting more people involved in it to accelerate its development and use could do wonders.

        Educational systems typically being in the clutches of humanists doesn't help. Most of the more technically minded people prefer to work as things like engineers or programmers, whose pay is much, much higher then a teacher's. Amusingly, the lack of practical application of most humanities means that their role in education in increased.

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