Aja B.
  • Aja B.
  • New York, NY
  • United States

CEO / Software Architect, TED


This conversation is closed.

Announcement: TED Conversation hiatus begins June 10th

As you know, we're in the process of redesigning TED.com and rebuilding the underlying infrastructure that keeps it all running. This process is happening in stages, starting with the Talk video page and site homepage, then user accounts and profiles, and so on until we have all of TED.com migrated to a modern, flexible, and easy-to-use platform.

TED Conversations remains one of the most technically complex pieces of this puzzle, and to really give this update the attention it needs, we've decided to place the current TED Conversations platform on a temporary hiatus.

What does this mean? Well, for starters, the existing conversations will remain online. Any links or bookmarks to existing topics will continue to function. Your accounts and profiles on TED will continue to exist. When the hiatus begins on June 10th, no new conversation topics will be added, and no further replies will be posted.

We're so delighted to have hosted such an impressive variety of discussions from this global and diverse community. Thank you for the part you've played in building TED Conversations, and we hope to see you again soon!


Aja B. | TED.com
Online Community Manager

PS: We need your help! We'd like to post a list of the absolute best conversations that have happened over the past 3 years: the most interesting ideas, questions, and debates. If you have any favorites, any really excellent interactions you've experienced or witnessed, please post them here!

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    R H

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    May 29 2014: I've been waiting for this. 'Conversations' has little to contribute to TED, although much to contribute to TED consumers. 'Conversations' was an oasis for me, a chance to participate and grow in wildly differentiating topics not present in day-to-day discussion. I thank TED for providing this venue to date, but since these conversations were really the 'main attraction' of TED for me, I'll have little reason to visit TED in the future - unless I want to hear someone give a talk. Vous et au revoir merci!
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      Jun 9 2014: RH, We may not always agree ... but you are a valued asset to TED conservations ... I am also disappointed and feel that changes were made for the sake of change and not for improvements. I am not a fan of the "new TED" ... but responses from people like you keep me in line and thinking ... I would miss you ... you are valued and respected.

      I find it troubling that no one responded to your post? Is that the new TED????? The I don't care TED???

      Be well my friend ... Bob.
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        Jun 9 2014: I will miss you. Stay well until we meet again.
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      Jun 9 2014: Along with Bob, I always appreciate the thoughtfulness of your posts. I hope you will return when Conversations do.
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    May 29 2014: I liked TED conversations. I got very good feedback on a proposal that can improve ALL democracies.

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    May 28 2014: Sorry to say, but this is sad news!
    Personally I find the new mobile-friendly format, to be PC unfriendly and nearly stop viewing TED Talks and have completely stopped commenting to them.
    It uses way to much screen real-estate, and is a major down-grade compared to the old format with a lot less information.
    I fear if conversations are equal in format, my days of posting here are numbered.

    PS: We need your help! We'd like to post a list of the absolute best conversations that have happened over the past 3 years:

    There has been so many;
    From those concerning spirituality
    To great conversations about the environment
    and the number of comments does not relate to the quality of the conversation for example I always enjoy Amy Peach conversations and those made by others
    I really like conversations that help posters with a question, I know starting a conversation has helped me with a dilemma.
    Plus new favorite conversations are being created all the time.
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      Aja B.

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      May 28 2014: Don, this is a great list, thank you!
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        Jun 9 2014: Aja, You responded to Don's list of conversations while I am concerned with his statement that "his days of posting here are numbered".

        Don has been a great contributor and his loss would be bad for the community.

        He had concerns that were not addressed ... sorry but that is not right. You are one of the few that we have access to ... Only a couple of you ever respond ... again that is also not right.

        This is the first really negative thing I have ever sent to you ... sorry ... but how I see it.

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        Jun 10 2014: Aja, your welcome, and Thank you for being a great and active community manager for TED.

        I understand the need to be more mobile friendly format; at first I feared it would lead to diminish conversation quality. Via more on-the-go twitter quality / less thought-out comments, but with some refection it also could lead to conversations enrichment via it giving access to insightful thinkers outside the western and/or PC world that don’t have access to PCs.

        Sorry if my comment so too vague and negative I’m no webpage-master, so I can only speak in the most generalization of terms. To be more specific and take a productive tone, I can think of two features I feel many TEDsters would enjoy.
        1. Adjustable font size for comments and conversations areas, making the areas friendlier for both those with vision issues and those concerned with screen space usage, who want smaller text.
        2. Information and graphics on/off toggles; for example the current area of Recent Commenters could be toggles “Off” or “On” if desired,
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      Jun 9 2014: Don, Aja responded to your list of favorites ... I however would like to respond to your statement " I fear if conversations are equal in format, my days of posting here are numbered. "

      We do not always agree, but I do respect your inputs and consider you a major player in the TED conservations. I agree with your assessment that the old format was much friendlier .. I like to read the transcripts as the same time as viewing the talk ... that is no longer possible and I miss all of the slides, charts, photos, etc ...

      This has resulted in change for the sake of change not for the sake of improvement ... my opinion.

      They have taken away the option to e-mail you for personal asides ... which I also miss ...

      I, like you, am discouraged ... however I will give it a try ... and hope you will also.

      You are valued ... I sent a message to Aja covering much of the same as I have addressed to you. I thought she should have addressed your concerns .... she is one of the few we have access to and responds ... and that is a shame too.

      With respect ... I wish you well ... Bob.
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        Jun 10 2014: Bob,
        To me the fact that we and all TEDsters don’t always agree, and yet have civil conversations is what makes this place so great! There is nothing like defending your thinking that helps you fully developed or corrects it.

        Please note I did say “fear” and that is all it was just fear, and I hope it will be proven to be unfounded and if not, I will not go gentle into that good night, for TED conversations is worthy of a good fight.

        I value and respect your insights as well, and look forward to many more conversations.
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    Jun 9 2014: As I give this further thought, I, like others, found some problems with the..... beta?....version that was recently released.... but, I would hope our concerns have been noted and will be addressed. I believe a number of TED participants mostly use the conversations, so we hope the new conversations will be better then the old.... that is the promise.
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    Jun 5 2014: Aja and TED Staff,

    An Old Irish Blessing

    May the road rise up to meet you.
    May the wind always be at your back.
    May the sun shine warm upon your face,
    and rains fall soft upon your cheeks.
    And until we meet again at TED Conversations,
    May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

    Wish you the best ...
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    May 28 2014: Aja, I find it interesting that the restructure of the TED home page and talks etc ... ask for the suggestions of the community, lots of feed back, done in house while the system continued to run. Yet the Conversations did not get the same request for input ... is being put on hiatus ... etc.

    What is the reason for listing the most interesting Ideas, Questions, Debates over the last three years. Who determines the "best". We can read them but there is no opportunity to respond.

    As one of the less than ten Conservative / Independents who have frequented the site (and you may notice that some have already left) it has been fun twisting the tail of the radical left .... Being a Independent on this site is likened to a Christian in downtown Rome in the days of Caesar.

    I am sure many of us would love to help ... but the door is closed as of June 10th. Would it be possible to provide updates along the way?

    I would like to make one request. Update the existing rules OR enforce them.

    Thanks ... it has been a real hoot.

    I wish you well. Bob.
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      Aja B.

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      May 28 2014: > What is the reason for listing the most interesting Ideas,
      > Questions, Debates over the last three years.
      > Who determines the "best".

      Bob, we'd like to list some favorite conversations on the TED.com "Discuss" page, here: http://www.ted.com/participate/discuss

      The purpose is to make it easier for folks who are new to TED.com to find the great discussions that have happened here, and to give them an idea of what's to come. We're hoping you can help us find the most memorable of the over 14,000 topics!
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      May 28 2014: Hi, Robert. While I haven't refreshed my memory by looking back at all the threads in which the TED staff sought input into changes people would like to see, I remember that comments on possible changes to TED Conversations were always part of that solicitation of input. It was never just about the Talks part of the site.

      I think your request that the terms of use be either changed or enforced has often been made. Other things people have said: Some people don't like TED creds. Some people like the idea of thumbs down and some hate it. Some people like the idea of a site moderated with an eye to the terms of use and some prefer a completely unmoderated site. Lots of people request a format in which which one can reply to people beyond four layers (or whatever one calls that). Some people recently have suggested having a spelling/grammar check capability. Some people have suggested that people not be permitted to use pseudonyms and others believe strongly that pseudonyms are necessary to allow the participation of those who fear participation under their proper names for whatever reason.

      Those are the pieces of input I remember off the top of my head from the times TED staff have solicited input on the TED site.

      I don't know what solicitations of input have looked like in other settings to capture the preferences of those who do not now participate (either because they left or never participated) but who would if there were some changes in how TED Conversations operates. That group is important too, in order to include a more diverse array of participants than may have settled into the site as it currently operates.

      There is also a contact form on the site that allow anyone to make comment or recommendation about anything. (I haven't actually checked, but I assume that contact form still exists on the new site). Here it is: http://www.ted.com/about/our-organization/contact-us
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        May 28 2014: Fritzie, As always I appreciate your input. Yeah, I recall the original input and have read the follow on suggestions as well.

        All of that is well over a year old and has, I am sure, been hashed and rehashed at the TED exec levels. The design, development, and changes are made off line and later Bata tested on line. Thus the confussion of why the hiatus?

        I thought it a good time to bring up their rules ... and lack of enforcement. It should be considered in the redesign.

        If I drank coffee maybe I would not be such a grump in the morning. LOL.

        Thanks again my friend .. as always I wish you well. Bob.
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          May 28 2014: I have a good guess, I think, of why there might be a hiatus. Perhaps the same people who staff TED Conversations in every aspect are charged with the rebuild of Conversations? My mother used to say, though not in English, that one cannot sit with one behind in two places at once..
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          May 31 2014: Fritzie, that is the greatest saying ever! And it's exactly what's happening.
          Robert, to answer your question, the hiatus is happening because we don't have the staff or resources to both run conversations and make them better, simultaneously, so we had to pick one goal to focus on. And yes, this was a tough decision to make, because in an ideal world we would do everything we want. But to use another metaphor, if conversations is an airplane in flight, we have to land it in order to replace the engine with a newer, more powerful one.
        • Jun 4 2014: Emily, what do you think would happen if Google search tired your approach with their search engine? If they just shut down Google search for awhile? How is that for a metaphor or analogy?
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    Aja B.

    • +1
    Jun 10 2014: Just wanted to say a big thank you again to everyone who participated, both in this topic and in TED Conversations as a whole over the past three years. It's been an amazing experience, and I look forward to seeing you all again soon. :)

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    Jun 10 2014: ..in that case I'd better get my votes up here fast :)

    "Are private universities worth the money for a bachelor's degree"
    "What will it take for everyone to become a teacher"
    "What are the five things you have learned that completely changed your life"
    "How do we teach children compassion and empathy"
    "How can we make technology more friendly to people in their old age"
    "Isn't it time to eliminate grades in education"
    "What subjects do you think should be taught in school nowadays"
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    Jun 9 2014: Hi, Aja. I am looking forward to seeing what you come up with!

    This may be impossible to answer, but is a rebuild of this kind something that tends to take something like 6 months? Or is it more like a year or longer?
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      Aja B.

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      Jun 9 2014: Thanks Fritzie! I'd certainly hope more the former than the latter. The sooner we can get the new platform up and running, the better!

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        Jun 9 2014: Thanks. I think you might want to express this on the page people get to if they click the Conversations link.
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        Jun 10 2014: Aja, can you tell us roughly how long the hiatus will be?
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          Aja B.

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          Jun 10 2014: Amy, I don't have a solid timeframe at this point... we've got some R&D ahead of us, and a lot will depend on how ambitious we want to be with a new platform. I feel like Fritzie's 6-month guess makes sense, but I've launched enough projects now to be wary of estimating one way or the other.

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    Jun 9 2014: Hi Aja, I'm sorry to that I will not have TED for a while, as it is usually good brain candy for me. I have always viewed this cite as somewhat of a bookstore, where you can pick the subjects that you want to read about, but then also have the bonus of asking questions or posting comments.

    However, I must agree that the cite needs a change. Specifically, from the time that I started posting, almost exactly one year ago, until now, the cite seems to have been slowly dominated by just a few followers. Is there a way to limit one followers comments, to perhaps 10 a week, or so. Because the comments that I read are basically old news, and same news from the same old people. I try very hard to embrace new faces and encourage them to continue, but they soon disappear. This leaves TED looking much like Facebook in that the people become more and more familiar and the conversation become more and more off base, as they refer to previous discussions with each other.

    So my suggestion would be to limit the comments, which is basically no different than limiting our characters, and keep the discussion on point as much as you can, I also think that the TED CRED system needs some revamping. I see many people with 50 pr more TED CREDS who use this web cite as nothing more than a constant companion to their day on the couch. They ramble and tell the same story time and time again and that should not be rewarded with any CREDS. I think that substance and direction in a comment response will bring more thumbs up, and that should be next to the names - how many thumbs up they have, as they are not building it with fluff, but the followers are with appreciation. It may also make people care about their fellow reader a bit more and their own need to ramble a bit less. So you may want to put in the guidelines that sometimes, it is just nice to read the posts, and if you have nothing new to add, than don't.
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      Jun 9 2014: Amy, don't forget that, until TED Conversations reopens, you can continue to engage with the community about individual TED Talks! The talk offered each day gives opportunity for comment, with recent talks having the most active response by community members to the speaker but also, to each other.

      Because the talks set the tone and are on quite different and seldom repetitive topics, different talks draw different people to comment. The comments are substantive and anchored, if less personal than here..

      The flavor of conversation there is a little different, as you will see if you check that out, and you would have a chance to engage with a different subset of the large TED Community.

      There are a very few people, interestingly, who comment in both TED Talks comments and TED Conversations.
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        Jun 9 2014: Thanks so much Fritzie!

        I do love the TED talks as well, but have never made any comments on them, as I always felt that they covered so much of the subject, so I just took it in. My son is hoping to be part of a TED talk soon on the issue of hearing impairment, He is presently doing research on dual cochlear implants on children and is hoping to spread the information on TED within a year. I do look for very specific conversations that kind of give me a gut feeling that something needs to be added or shared. And much like your comments, which I love, I hope to be positive with my words. Thanks you for all of your very nice comments that I have had the pleasure of reading. Best to you Fritzie, and I hope to see you soon.
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          Jun 9 2014: As an aside, I have just been reading TED speaker Andrew Solomon's book Far from the Tree, which summarizes ten years of research into parenting children with exceptions. It is not "how to" but rather about the parenting experience, with chapters on deafness, autism, Downs, schizophrenia, transgender, musical prodigies, and so forth.

          I think your son would take interest in the chapter about deafness, which does give attention to the issues in cochlear implants. If he is headed to present his work in a TED setting, this might be a useful read.
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      Aja B.

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      Jun 9 2014: Thank you Amy! And, as Fritzie suggested, I do hope we see you in the TED Talk comments section!

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    Jun 8 2014: Dear Aja

    Wish you all the best,
  • Dan F

    • +1
    Jun 8 2014: Hi Ada B,

    Thank you for asking for input regarding TED Conversations.

    First, I'd like to say TED has been and continues to be an attractive expanding and demanding experience for me. Obviously, TED is seeking a chunk of our discretionary time, which tends to be quite limited for many of us and in a very completive market. It's possible to be a passive member on TED, but many of us engaged once we got involved and the free membership is a big plus for many I'm sure.

    This engagement is what brings TED to life for so many of us. Most things that are rewarding are not without some difficulties. Ted has sought to control comments and exchanges that get too personal and/or inappropriate. Ted also elected to remove the thumbs down option.

    I personally find a few sparks interesting and even entertaining, but that needs be done without a participant being crude. The thumbs down feature or some other similar option of convenience provides and interesting dynamic for participants to express a disconnect or rejection of what's being contended. I am trying to adjust to this restriction.

    I sense that TED is providing an incredible worldwide service, which may be initiating its own brand of civilization by shining a light on the power of the word via a central exchange open to all.

    Your request to give recognition to what certain members have conveyed in comments or conversations is interesting. There are a number of such communications that I have found fascinating. I am in the middle of a project that is demanding considerable time, but will try to look up some of these interesting topics and conversational responses and relay them. Maybe such a member or two could be rewarded with a free ticket to an annual TED Convention!

    Good luck and speed with your Think Tank and technicians regarding efforts to continue to improve this unique service and experience that you are providing for us.
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      Aja B.

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      Jun 9 2014: Thank you Dan! And, to explain the lack of a "thumbs down" button... we did actually have both an "up" and a "down" vote for some time several years ago. Unfortunately, we found the "down" vote was subject to rampant abuse, and while there are methods to avoid a lot of this abuse, the platform we were using at the time made it very difficult to do efficiently (and, according to the many whiteboard-scribbled explanations I was given, would have slowed down the loading of these comment pages to a crawl). Now that it's gone, I find I don't particularly miss the general "down vote" button, but I am interested in exploring more nuanced options for providing easy feedback on a comment. Different concepts for "flagging" a comment, perhaps, that might include options like "This is too personal", or "This doesn't belong here".

      Thanks again!

      • Dan F

        • +2
        Jun 9 2014: Hi again Aja,

        I'm the first to admit it is easier to be a critic than it is to take on the responsibilities of an individual(s) confronted with the multitude of factors that must dealt with to make sure things come together in a fashion that reflect professional efforts and decisions to maintain and improve the quality of TED services.

        I truly trust you will continue to be smartly creative and achieve these high ideals and goals.

        I will look forward to your return announcement regarding Conversations, in the meantime I will shift my attention and comments more to those providing Talks promoting ideas worth spreading.
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    Jun 8 2014: I've only been participating in TED Conversations for a few months and I've enjoyed just about all of the conversations I've joined. I did pick out some that might be worthy of adding to your list for others to check out - listed in no particular order:











    I'll look forward to the return of TED Conversations. I think they provide a valuable forum where participants tend to be very open, interested and respectful in our exchanges - unlike with so many forums on the internet.

    I hope the next version of this forum will provide us with the ability to contact other members individually. The current version has a hint that this feature was considered but never implemented.

    I also hope that the next forum will focus on implementing basic functioning without relying on or requiring all the latest bells and whistles available these days. Some of the newest technology can be distracting and get in the way. It can also require user upgrading of hardware and software that not everyone can justify or afford. I encourage you to consider implementing features in such a manner that potential users won't be shut out because they're not running the latest software on the newest operating systems on the newest hardware.

    Thanks for all you're doing on your end, Aja!
  • Jun 1 2014: This is my own idea and I hope that is okay.

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    May 31 2014: Oh, thank you so much for clarifying! It is a good news for me.
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    May 31 2014: Aja,
    I've learned so much here at TED- and still doing so- So many folks here at TED Conversations have so interesting points of view different moxies, wether I agree or not is irrelevant, what is important is to keep asking the questions, to offer perspectives & experiences then rinse & repeat. And after asking the questions there comes along the action piece to each and very one of us.

    Thanks TED!!!
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    May 31 2014: One more idea for the new TED Conversations:

    Many times I had missed some interesting conversations because I discovered them just too late. So I think it would be very helpful if TED gives the TEDsters the option to choose receiving an auotomatic e-mail each time a new conversation is added to the list. It's only for receiving a message for a conversation addition but NOT for receiving messages for addition of comments to the conversations.

    The e-mail will include in the Subject line the main title of any conversation. So the member can easily see if the topic is of his interest. If not, the e-mail would be deleted. If it does, the e-mail will be opened and inside will be found the opening remarks of that conversation, and a link to it.
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      Aja B.

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      Jun 3 2014: Yubal, I completely agree, being able to subscribe to new topic notifications would be fantastic. Or maybe even subscribing to topics on a particular subject. That would be a great addition, for sure. Thank you!
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    May 30 2014: Good job that yours! I completely admire and thank you for your job. For me, it's useful and I really enjoy at Ted's. I'll collaborate, of cours, very pleasantly, marking the best conversations I enjoyed.
    Thanks again.
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    May 30 2014: Dear Aja,
    Thanks for the information. I will miss the conversations when they are off line, TED is my crossword puzzle that I use to keep me sharp....er.
    I have no best conversations, All I replied too were great. You can list them in the order of those with "my most responses"
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      Gord G

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      May 30 2014: I think of them as thought experiments…that occasionally blow up. ;-)
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    May 29 2014: In the short time I have been a member of the site, I have found this to be a wonderfully engaging way to connect and discuss great ideas. I am happy to hear that significant upgrades are underway, but would rather hope that a mock beta site would be created in house than then once complete launched in place of the current system, allowing the conversation to continue. Then migration of profiles following the update to again allow for a smooth uninterrupted transition. These decisions I know are often made based on many different factors, including the size and amount of activity of the user base. My concern is that users during a hiatus will be lost and habits of use will change without the regularity of being able to post or comment. I hope my views will be considered. While I definitely am not aware of all of the detail, as a business executive these would be my concerns related to a web transition for any institution that has focus on a user and view base.

    Best Regards,
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      Aja B.

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      May 29 2014: Gabriel, thank you for sharing this. I'm afraid the issue here is simply one of resources; we just don't have the tools or the people-power to properly run this platform while simultaneously building/testing the next. Profiles will remain intact, though!

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        May 29 2014: Will any methods of communication be available between users via conversation? Also, would you consider enlisting the help of your top contributors to help serve as hosts to moderate additions to answer to already established questions, ideas, etc? Something tells me that participants and avid TED Conversations users, would with instruction, be up and even eager to help keep the conversation going.
  • May 29 2014: Hi Dear Aja,Thank you for you all guys ihard work to contribute to TED conversations.I am sure we will see a better TED conversations platform for people all around the world to communicate to each other.

    I think it is good to list some of very good conversations from great conversation grades,not only the one,maybe two or three,a few people come to discuss together which conversations can be inspired people to think sth or learn sth...

    It is also good if we can upload voice comments and typing comments both here.Thank you.
  • May 29 2014: For me, all conversations were valuable and even more the experience of leading personnally 3 of them. Thanks again. Francisco López
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    May 28 2014: well, I enjoy them, they're a good way to learn about life and the world. How will people know when they start back up again? I enjoyed one by Paula Cano about wanting to know where your food is manufactured: http://www.ted.com/conversations/22376/to_all_food_lovers_do_we_wan.html I've enjoyed all the ones I hosted, I particularly enjoyed learning what people have learned from animals: http://www.ted.com/conversations/19591/what_have_you_learned_from_ani.html and also promoting people allowing themselves to become more ambidextrous: http://www.ted.com/conversations/23638/work_on_becoming_more_ambidext.html
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    May 28 2014: I think the real value of the conversations is that someone can have a great thought or idea and get reactions from others quickly. The comments on the talks are very limited to a particular area. The conversations allowed for a wide variety of topics.

    The questions posted are screened and have not been very controversial. The discourse is generally very civil.

    One issue is that some questions repeat frequently.

    Also - why the 30 day limit? I am on some discussions on the Chronicle of Higher Education that are 4 years old and counting!
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      Aja B.

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      May 28 2014: David, I agree, Conversations has been a great way to open up topics beyond a single talk, and it's something we definitely want to continue.

      The 30 day limit... we want discussions to stay fresh and focused, and to repeat themselves as little as possible. We've seen other communities experiment with time-boxing topics since Conversations launched, and it's been an interesting format... but I take it you prefer the more open-ended topics?
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        May 29 2014: I know some discussions that drag on for months or years on some sites can get redundant. Some discussions die a natural death in a few days or weeks like they do on TED as well.

        What I think would be cool is to have an expert volunteer (or several) moderate a talk and keep it lively. It would need to have a time limit like a month or two but it would be almost like an online class where there can be a sense of community. I would bet some retirees have incredible insights to share on topics, I think this is an untapped resource.
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        May 29 2014: There were some conversations with very high number of participants which I think should not have to be closed even after a month. My suggestion to TED is that, suppose near the given time for ending, if TED moderator sees that comments are still pouring in, then he//she should extend the time of closure. You can make a rule for yourself. If suppose during 3 days before the closure time there are minimum 10 more comments or replies, the time will be extended. Something like that.
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    May 28 2014: Hi Aja, thanks for updating us. But let me tell you that on the new TED.com, there are missing many good features which were found on the old site. And the worse thing is that I had written several times to TED specifying the various missing features, but I hardly got any responses from TED, nor I see any improvement regarding the missing features. So I really don't know what to think. I certainly do not share your enthusiasm regarding the upcoming new Conversations platform, when I recall this recent experience of mine with the new TED.com. I had a similar experience when TED shifted its translations platform from dotSub to Amara. So for me, NEW, does not necessarily mean BETTER. Sorry.
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      Aja B.

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      May 28 2014: Yubal, I hear you, and I know there's been some bumps in the road. I'm always amazed by how complex a web site upgrade can be, even now that I'm writing some of the code myself. Web apps are so ubiquitous and so easy to use, it seems like building and maintaining them should be a snap... but rarely does it end up that way.

      I hope you'll continue to stick with us through this transition. And the Product and Tech teams are definitely listening to feedback about the new site, even if they aren't always able to turn around a fix as fast as we'd like.
  • May 28 2014: William Black has made the greatest impression on myself
    with his honest TED talk. It was last year. He wrote a book or two concerning the topic,
    and his talk pointed out that there have been no prosecutions concerning the $11 Trillion
    dollar loss the American people have suffered.

    The conversations relating to his talk are my favorites.

    I am sorry the TED conversation's Team has to go on hiatus. Hopefully, not for long.
    I so enjoy your emails.
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    Jun 10 2014: I'd love it.
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    Jun 10 2014: Yikes. Ok, guess I'll be dropping TED conversations from my workshop on campus :) I thought it was more of an update. Thanks, Aja and may the force be with you :)
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      Aja B.

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      Jun 10 2014: Yes indeed! Though I'd definitely like to continue to support "TED in the Classroom" projects on the new platform; would you mind if I got in touch to hear how you'd want to use it?
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    Jun 6 2014: This is the very important part of our e-Communication relationship around the world.

    e-Communication talks about our responsibility to each other, eg. (Spreading & Developing) Ideas, and, how we can both keep things running smoothly (TED-2015 Bring Fresh Idea for Empathy e-Communication over the world). Moreover, e-Communication can be described as “ Fireworks ”.

    e-Communication: can you image, listen, feel, think, see, talk and touch with others around the world ?
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    May 31 2014: so is there any sure way to know when conversations has been restored, rather than just checking back randomly from time to time? Also, I noticed on the TED profiles now, there's no way to send someone a private email? Was that purposive on your part?
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      Jun 4 2014: Greg, did you get the group email telling us of the hiatus? Wouldn't you expect a similar dispatch when it is up and running again?

      Do you get the TED Blog delivered to your inbox? That is another good way of keeping abreast of things happening at TED, including launches of new initiatives.
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        Jun 4 2014: i guess it's possible, Fritzie. Do I appear stupid because I didn't think of that? Sometimes it's surprising how even very big orgs don't necessarily do things in a way that seems ultracompetent. I just established a facebook account, and I was surprised to see that the signup process wasn't as crystal clear as I would have thought it to be.

        I suppose I was also thinking that the new TED conversations might re-emerge in stages, although I suppose that's probably wrong on my part. I tend to be ultracareful, it often seems to me that it's better just to ask because one never knows what little kinks there might be that one didn't think of.

        I did get the group email. I wonder how it was generated, did it go out to every member of the TED community? But if someone comes along who hasn't joined the TED community, and they would like to know when TED conversations is back up and running, I wonder if they will be forced to just check back at random intervals? That doesn't seem user-friendly?
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          Jun 4 2014: No one appears stupid. It's reasonable to ask when you have a question.

          The larger TED Community has maybe a couple of million members. I don't know whether everyone got an email update on the new TED site, but I would have guessed that they did.

          Similarly, I would expect that the whole community would get an email announcing the new TED Conversations.

          Most mailing systems seem to have an option in which you can send a message to a list that basically is Everybody. It would make sense to me that TED is rebuilding not just to serve the really not very many people who participate in TED Conversations but also to try to engage a bigger share of the TED Community.
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        Jun 4 2014: do you see any flaws in TED conversations as it has been constituted up until the overhaul?
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          Jun 4 2014: People have always expressed lots of ideas for how the platform could be improved. Robert has suggested that the Terms of Use be reviewed and either changed or enforced. That is a suggestion that I think makes good sense.

          Many people have suggested that there be a way of replying beyond the fourth reply in a chain of comments.

          For myself personally, I miss the wider range of perspectives and collaborative working on problems that the site had maybe a couple of years ago.Many participants who once shared interesting and thoughtful points of view, who thought hard together, have left over time, making the community less diverse now in background and interests.

          My preferences in the flavor or culture of a discourse community are going to be different than someone else's and neither more nor less legitimate, I think. For example, I prefer exchanges in which people make meaning together, sharing information and entertaining different arguments, advancing the group's thinking on questions in which participants do not have entrenched points of view. Other people have a particular love of debate- even for formal debate. And some like most of all to chat and share about the events of their lives. Some prefer forums where they can practice promoting/marketing particular views of theirs to an audience or are searching for followers of a program they want to lead..

          Because people look for different things, if I were redesigning the forum, I would survey those who used to participate actively, other than the trolls, and ask why they left. I would also survey a random sample of TED Community members to ask what would draw them to participate in a forum about ideas.
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        Jun 4 2014: oh, maybe you answered or partially answered my question by saying that TED is rebuilding conversations to try to engage more members of the community. Although my perception is that a fair amount of new people do participate in conversations, it's just a fairly small number that stick around for a while (like myself and you.)

        Do you think the rebuilding that has been done so far has been an improvement, Fritzie? I really hardly use any part of TED except for conversations. I have nominated a few people for speakers, I nominated Mark McAfee, who owns the largest raw milk company in California and makes a good case for drinking raw milk; and Scott Slovic, who teaches "ecological literature" in Idaho. I've just had communication with a third person named Heidi Duckler, urging her to apply to be a speaker. She is a choreographer who works in Los Angeles who stages dance at unusual venues such as Laundromats and at the L.A. Police Academy. I'm afraid I can't get YouTube video for you as I'll lose what I've written here, but look for videos of her dances on YouTube, they're fun and interesting. I saw her piece "At the Oasis" at Cal State L.A.
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          Jun 4 2014: I did not actually say that TED is rebuilding in order to engage more members of the community but only that it would not surprise me, given TED's mission, if that were part of the organization's hope from the redesign.

          TED Conversations has not been rebuilt yet. I think mobile users are the ones who probably see the most benefit from the rebuilding to date. I don't think the rebuild has yet taken into account the functionality of the site for conversationalists and that the changes so far have had the side effect, rather than the intention, of reducing the serviceability to that group.

          The rebuild that is starting next week is planned to enhance those services.
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        Jun 4 2014: is there any particular reason why there would have been a wider range of perspectives and collaborative working of problems a couple of years ago? Or is it just random? I know TED conversations is only about three years old, perhaps it was fresher and more novel two years ago and attracted more interesting people. But I've only participated in the last year, Fritzie, and found it hugely positive and edifying.
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          Jun 4 2014: As I wrote, rather than speculating about why people have left, I would survey people who used to participate and do no longer. One hypothesis is that many people stay if they believe they are learning about things about which they want to learn or if they believe that people are learning from their contributions and leave if they believe they are not hearing any new or valuable ideas or that people are largely not interested in their perspectives.

          An idea or line of argument may seem new and fresh to one person while being something another person has known about and considered thoroughly thirty years ago.

          By the way, I have tried twice to link for you the place on the site that shows the improvements, but each time the reply seems to be deleted automatically. Try putting in hello dot ted dot com.
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        Jun 4 2014: would you mind explaining to me how the changes that have been made so far serve the mobile community, I suppose you mean things like smartphones and tablets, which I have never had and in fact don't have a cellphone or even a PC, I use PC's at public libraries or at my mom's house. As I'm asking you the question, I'm picturing the look of the TED talk videos now on the revamped site and I can kind of think that they might "size" better for a mobile screen than the prior sizings.

        This all means that mobile devices are becoming a more significant part of human life? That would be because people have simply gotten more comfortable with the devices?
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          Jun 4 2014: I too am judging by the shape of the screen and the fact that TED staff said the rebuild would be much more functional for mobile users. I also have neither smartphone nor tablet.
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        Jun 5 2014: sorry, Fritzie, you did say that. I guess because it was an unexpected idea for me, I didn't intake it very well. But since TED probably won't perform the survey you described, possibly all we can is speculate as to why it may have been better back then? For me, it seems I am still experiencing what you describe, diverse people thinking hard to try to solve problems.

        By the way, is there any particular kind of problem you consistently work on? You haven't been around much lately, but I always used to see you the most on education questions. Your goal is to improve education? To what end?
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          Jun 5 2014: I think TED very well might do user interviews of a random sample of people. They did user interviews as part of the general rebuild. This is one reason it takes time.

          Yes, I am passionately committed to building learning communities to foster and facilitate critical and creative thinking, ages about eleven through adult, both within conventional educational institutions and outside them. I tend to have about five such projects going at once. So I keep up on research and practice having to do with thinking and learning. I have not been involved professionally in programs for the very young, but I have been involved at the design and at the practitioner level in secondary and post-secondary.
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        Jun 6 2014: well, in my mind Fritzie, TED might not care why people leave TED conversations as long as they have new people, "new blood," coming in, which as far as I can see they do. I suppose it is an interesting question. I could maybe see some people only starting out with a moderate interest in TED conversations, and after a while they get their fill and move on. Some people I notice only post conversations of their own and never reply to other people's conversations, so once they finish with their conversation they may move on. Some people's practical situations may change where they have less time. Some people might find TED conversations daunting, I have noticed people who start a conversation but then don't reply to the people who reply back, possibly they don't have the intellectual resources to continue the conversation. Some people may be restless people who need to move on to new things after a while. Some people may find TED deflating, they may have thought they were brilliant, and then they get some astute critical thinking coming back at them and they find they're not as brilliant at handling it as they thought they were.

        I noticed you haven't been on TED convos much for the last few months. Why has that been?

        One thing that's been curious for me is recommending TED conversations to people who I really thought would be interested, but they did not get involved. I'll have to keep that in my mind to ask them why not. In one case the person is really busy with other things, in fact that may be the case with all of them.

        Well, I enjoy learning, in fact that's why I participate here. Is it a case where you're dissatisfied with learning systems as they stand presently? Or perhaps you don't think enough people are oriented towards learning or take advantage of educational opportunities?

        The best learning experience I had was my first year at Stanford...........
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        Jun 6 2014: i was in a program called structured liberal education https://undergrad.stanford.edu/programs/residential-programs/sle it was a much more intense western civ course than most students go through, consuming three-fourths of our credits each quarter. There were 60 of us in the program and we all lived in three freshman dorms in the same complex, in my dorm there were 20 of us in "SLE," and then 40 who weren't, and the same in the other two dorms. Basically we went to all our classes in a main meeting hall for those dorms, and our discussion sections were at different rooms in the complex, well, a couple of our professors had apartments in the complex so we had discussion sections at their apartments. Of course it was very exciting because the same people you were going to class with you were living with, so there were oodles of SLE conversations happening around the dorms, at meals, etc. Our first quarter we worked on the Greeks, second quarter the Renaissance, third quarter the modern period. But I got lucky because my best friend, also in SLE, happened to be a brilliant person, I learned so much from him, without him I think SLE and Stanford (and the rest of my life) would have been rather pedestrian. Here is his facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/phil.ansell.50?fref=ts

        Have you seen me talking about deep springs college here on TED? This is a unique college in Death Valley, California, it's only about twenty students, all men, every student scored in the top 1% on the SAT, all are on full scholarship but must work at least 20 hours a week on the school farm, students have a lot of responsibility, one sits on the board of trustees. It was started by a man who thought people with potential should spend some time in the desert reflecting. I applied but didn't get in, but I'm sure I had a better experience with SLE and Phil.
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          Jun 6 2014: I have over the years known many people to apply to Deep Springs. Obviously with only twenty people and all on full scholarship, it is highly competitive.
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        Jun 6 2014: I suppose prior to the overhaul, if someone wondered why another person had ceased to participate in TED conversations, in most cases they could have sent them a behind-the-scenes email via their profile. But it looks like now that feature is gone? For myself, Fritzie, I sometimes wonder why people stop responding, yet somehow it would damage my "California cool" to ask, or it might feel critical and one wants to be supportive here. But it's certainly a good question. But I still wonder why you haven't participated much for the last few months, if we saw why you haven't we might get some insight into why others haven't.

        I don't know, I didn't feel that competitive with Deep Springs. I guess it's just a case of try your best, if they accept you, fine, if not, well, you tried. I think for me it worked out fabulously.

        Well, I'm somewhat working on another TED speaker recommendation, I was exposed at an art gallery to something called "artistic taxidermy," people are taxidemying animals but then arting them up with jewelry or posing them in interesting tableaus, I gather now that quite a few people are doing this in the world. I thought it was beautiful and interesting, thinking one of the artists would make a good TED speaker.
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          Jun 6 2014: I think you are right that it is nicer to ask people in private email, as people often have personal reasons. I predict email will return as a feature. The scholarly literature on building online communities definitely suggests that members should have a means of engaging in private exchanges.

          I don't think it's about California cool. People have emailed me with worries about the sudden disappearances of an older person. I know there is one person I miss very much who was taking care of an ailing spouse. I know others who left because they were fed up with a particular prolific troll or because they feel like the views that they see expressed on the subjects that interest them most have become predictable, so they don't see participation enhancing their thinking any further. Almost all of our scientists have left. Remember scholars and professionals in a field have lots of opportunity for discourse and collaboration with colleagues as well as access to interdisciplinary exchanges..So do many other people as well.

          It is true new people come! What I think would be important for someone designing a site to consider is whether there is something systematic in who chooses to leave, particularly if the environment doesn't seem welcoming or tolerate of people with their background, education, point of view, or whatever.

          This information is easier to gather if a person can answer privately rather than posting an answer on a forum.

          I am glad you know that anyone can suggest a TED speaker. There are so few spots and so many people worth hearing! Fortunately TEDx dramatically increases those opportunities.
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        Jun 7 2014: well, what I meant by California cool, fritz, is that kind of "laid-back," "mellow," "hey, whatever, man" attitude, "if you want to stay, it's cool, if you want to go, it's cool, whatever, man." Asking someone why they went might blow your mellow. But it's a good question.

        Speaking for myself, F, I believe TED conversations has constructed a wonderful site that is inviting to very learning and unlearned alike. If the very learned don't take advantage of it, well, to some degree, that's their problem. True, they can consult fellow scholars, but TED has a nice high profile and visibility that could be alluring. And you might meet people who take you out of your rut, as opposed to just going back to your same old network. But still your question is a good one, and it wouldn't be wasteful to survey people.

        I did send TED a suggestion that wherever they have video online of a TED speaker, they set that speaker up with a connection where they get notified any time someone comments on the video with them speaking, whether on TED, YouTube, or elsewhere. I was reading comments under TED talks and noticed the speakers in the video rarely respond to comments, but if they got a notification they might do it more often, and it might pull in more of the very learned. TED liked the idea and said they'd talk about it, but I don't know what they did with it. Do you have any suggestions as to direct changes that would pull more learned people into TED conversations? Part of the reason I don't care that strongly is I find I can approach any given TED conversation with rigor, and I can elicit rigor from a person I "converse" with on the conversation. In other words, even people who don't have a Ph.D. can often think very well, but you may have to pull it out of them.

        I know of another interesting edu approach you may not know about. Are you aware of the academy of achievement? They are based in Washington, D.C. .............................
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          Jun 7 2014: I think you are right that in their spare time people participate where they feel like participating. Some people mainly like to talk with people with whom they feel they can communicate fluently because of various points of similarity, and some enjoy communicating with a diversity of people and are quite adept at that. If you like diversity, you would want a wide range of people to feel their participation is valued.

          The most important basic principle for encouraging the participation of ANY group is not to push people away out of prejudice. For example, if people of whatever stripe feel targeted continually, they may choose to exit a particular setting. Religious people may not stay where they feel summariily dismissed, or atheists, or libertarians, or scientists or teachers... It could be anyone.

          This is one reason the terms of use ask for respectfulness of others, regardless of who they are.

          I might add that you cannot tell who is who unless they choose to divulge that about themselves and do so honestly.
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        Jun 7 2014: their whole thing is every year they hold a four-day conference somewhere in the world where they invite 50 or 60 superachievers, genuine household names, and about 300 young people who have demonstrated promise somehow. They get 'em together and the superachievers all give talks about their lives to try to inspire the youngsters. I got to be one of the 300 young people in '78 as a high school senior because I was a National Merit Scholar. You can play around on their site at achievement.org, watch many of the speeches on the "podcast center," and they have some sort of educational program for schools, in fact I haven't studied that section, if it does anything for you let me know what you get out of it?
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        Jun 7 2014: well, you've mentioned possible discrimination a couple of times, F. But I've almost never seen it here, have you? Once I flagged a conversation that mentioned "Jewish bankers" being a problem, and it was promptly removed. But I haven't seen discrimination that stays up that I think would cause someone to leave?
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          Jun 7 2014: I never mentioned discrimination. Beyond this, I cannot get into details here.
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        Jun 8 2014: well, you said it's important not to push people away because of prejudice, that's not the same as discrimination?
        "Cannot get into details," bit of a conversation killer, Fritzie. Hard for me to imagine you're hiding anything too controversial?
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          Jun 8 2014: To me prejudice is a set of assumptions about an individual based on the group he is in or assumptions about all people in that group. To me discrimination, in contrast, is something an institution does deliberately to disadvantage one group relative to others.

          You are right that I would not hide something controversial. Rather, I am respecting people's privacy.
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        Jun 9 2014: yes, that is the typical way the words are used. Well, I wouldn't want anyone to damage someone's privacy, I just thought in a generic way you would say whether you've seen much prejudice on TED conversations. I suppose it seems good as a way to educate me, to help me get an accurate picture of TED conversations.
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          Jun 9 2014: You have been here long enough, and intensively enough, to make your own observations, I would have thought? Examples: I have seen professional scientists kind of hounded out of here but I expect also made to feel out of place by continuous repetition of the popular belief that mainstream scientists are either ignorant, narrow-minded, or motivated only by money. So we miss an opportunity to learn about the real cutting edge in the fields of their work. Government employees would, I imagine, feel that there would be little interest in any sort of collaboration here involving them. Teachers or anyone involved in mainstream education are in many threads characterized as completely dead wood and incorrigible.

          I think one reason people maintain private profiles is so that they are not judged on the basis of these features. But they still notice popular attitudes toward their type.

          These are examples. Generally speaking, I think people who believe their observations and thoughts will be summarily dismissed because of the job, identity, political or religious disposition, nationality, or education they have, don't stay to share. Why share notes from the field if they feel there will be no consideration of what they have to say?

          Organizations develop a culture. When people have a choice, they stick with environments that have a culture that values them. Some organizations, therefore, bind together only people with a narrow range of accepted beliefs. Others retain the energy of a diversity of long, medium, and short term participants who really bring widely diverse information and perspectives to the table.

          In my observation TED Conversations two years ago had the sort of vitality that comes of a crossroads of very different thoughtful people hashing out important problems. But not so much of late.

          In contrast TED as an organization draws excitingly diverse people to the conferences, to the stage, and to the community who follow the talks.
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        Jun 10 2014: No, I haven't seen any professional scientists hounded out of here, nor any assertions that "mainstream scientists are either ignorant, narrow-minded, or motivated only by money," much less continuous repetition of same. No, from what I've seen, there are many respectful people who would be open to hearing what a scientist has to say. They might then disagree with the scientist, but it's hard for me to see them hounding them out of here. I have seen education criticized, generally the sentiment seems to be that education isn't done creatively, or doesn't foster creativity in the students. Well, in those cases, Fritzie, what I look for is whether the person making that statement appears to be sincere, if they sincerely believe it, then I don't think I could think of it as a prejudice, I believe you have to be at least thirteen years old to participate in TED conversations, by the time you're thirteen you have at least seven years of formal education so you have experienced formal education and had a chance to form some impressions of it, and you might reach a conclusion that education isn't creative or doesn't foster creativity in the students. I suppose you could call it a criticism, that education isn't creative or doesn't foster creativity, I guess the question then becomes whether it holds water or not, and if so, what you might do to remedy it. It would then fall to an educator whether they want to become involved in such a conversation, they might if they think the person is mistaken, or they might if they think the person is correct. But one thing, Fritzie, there are questions about education itself, but there are questions about many other topics, even if an educator didn't want to become involved in conversations about education, they might about the many other topics?
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          Jun 10 2014: There is universal agreement, I think, among those involved in education and those on the outside that there is plenty of room for improvement in education. Of course that near universally held view may constitute a philosophy but does not constitute a prejudice that we all have. Now a blanket assumption, supported only by selective anecdote, that teachers typically or universally deny that there is room for improvement or that they don't care I would say does constitutes a prejudice. An assumption that doctors do not typically care about their patients' health but only about their incomes would to me constitute a prejudice. An assumption that employees of government are typically corrupt constitutes a prejudice unless that is supported by data in the place at hand. Any of these is lumping together a group of people and making a negative assumption that anecdotes from ones experience cannot credibly support.

          Obviously anyone can choose to become involved in any topic, any open website, and so forth or to spend discretionary time elsewhere. People can and do these things.

          I don't think sincerity has much bearing on whether someone has a prejudice. History is full of sincerely held misconceptions and prejudices.
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        Jun 10 2014: oh, I'm seeing a little better where you're coming from, Fritzie. To me it's tough, because I generally read a criticism of education as a little more abstract, that it's not really a criticism of individual teachers or even the teaching profession, it's more like they're saying there's something "systemic" that discourages creativity in education, or discourages education that draws out creativity. Although I would have to think about that further, because after all a system is constructed by human beings, well, it might be an interesting question, when a teacher teaches, how much of their individual personality can they inject into the teaching, and how much is their teaching designed by someone other than them, possibly by someone who's not a teacher in the classroom, a "higher-up"?

        But you know, the criticisms of education I see don't assert that "teachers typically or universally deny that there is room for improvement or that they don't care." They just say that the education system isn't creative, or doesn't draw out creativity in the students, but I honestly don't see the person saying the teachers deny there is room for improvement, or don't care. You are seeing the person actually saying that, or you're taking it by implication? But even if someone said "Most or all teachers around the world don't care about their students," would that really be a prejudice? Because in my mind a prejudice would be flag-able, and TED would be duty-bound to remove it. If it is a prejudice, it's not as strong as saying, for example, "All black people are dumb," is it? Why is the latter a stronger or more offensive prejudice?
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          Jun 10 2014: I don't agree that broad brush assumptions are a violation of terms of use any more than faulty logic is Of course individual personality is a component of teaching, as it is a component of the delivery of any personal service- nursing, hairdressing, waitressing..

          If you review archived discussions about education, you will find some comments that place fault on administrators or the federal government, some on teachers, some on teachers unions, some on families, and so forth.

          A bientot then, Greg. See you when the forum starts up again.
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    May 31 2014: That is too bad; I enjoyed the conversations and learned about other's ideas here. But I kind of understand the TED's move to the direction with this; people can share their ideas directly under the talk they viewed most of the time.

    I was trying to pose a question, and it did not seem like working. I wonder if that is related to the plan what you've mentioned.

    Thank you for facilitating this ...
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      May 31 2014: Jeong-Lan, please notice that TED is very much not eliminating TED Conversations!

      What Aja writes is that they are temporarily closing down Conversations to focus on technical upgrades of the platform. It will reopen once that work is done. You are right that meanwhile people can post comments under the talks that most captivate them.

      Emily uses an analogy below that an airplane does not continue flying while the engine is being fixed.

      I could add another. The Large Hadron Collider where the Higgs Boson was recently found is "off" now while the scientists modify the technical apparatus and software to bring the system to higher energy when it comes back on. The collider will be dark for the rest of 2014 but the switch will be turned back on in January 2015 to generate data at higher energies so that new heavy particles might be found that will appear only, if they exist, at higher energy.

      TED Conversations will have a temporary hiatus, but after the system is rebuilt/modified, it will be turned back on to make new discoveries possible for users.
  • May 30 2014: Hi Dear Aja,I have another question to ask u here:Can TED translating different languages work be easier?I meant if just do:one,dowloade the talk.two,TED offers a free download software which can help translator to match translation own language to the talk.when it has been done,Then send the talks with own language subtile back to TED.If the translation has been passed the checking,send back a message to volunteer to inform them.
  • May 29 2014: Many thanks Aja. Very honored for your thumb. Best Regards.
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    May 28 2014: Yes that would be the most delicate concerning the users are constantly linked in. When you have a set group you have a set of gripes and groans even online. You could've had your team throw up several phantom pages named R1 R2 and had the Teddies moan over each ones mishaps developing it over however long it takes. No one can feed the world but you can get them to think they can help.
  • May 28 2014: What happened to simplicity? Are they shutting this down? Then say so simply that this feature will be closed. If you changing just the format then say so.

    This kabuki dance of complexity and fine print is the problem for our country and internationally. The complexity is the way those in the know control huge masses of real knowledge or participation.

    Used and abused?

    Is ted profit or non profit corporation? Who are the Gods that be?
  • May 28 2014: Aja

    The hiatus begins June 10th, but you failed to mention how long it would last.
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      Aja B.

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      May 28 2014: Hi Charles, we'll announce a timeframe as soon as it's been set. Right now, we focusing on making sure we make the right plans for bringing TED Conversations into the TED.com 2.0 design and infrastructure (no small feat!).

      • May 28 2014: Aja

        I knew I could count on you. Now how come you guys have not published my Conversation (Question) I submitted three or four days ago.
    • May 28 2014: Charles, I kind of suspected TED was shutting down conversations.
      It makes sense. Their funding and audience is mostly elitist leaning.
      When the public (the unwashed masses) get involved in open discussions
      all hell breaks loose. My TED conversation Team's monitoring letters
      have kept me in check. But, I wish TED well during their "hiatus", no
      matter how long it lasts.
      • May 28 2014: Frank

        Sadly, I believe you are correct. Could it be that the church requires only one choir? Let us hope we are wrong. One would think that plans would have been made prior to shutting down. I don't want to appear to critical, but I hope that they have not hired the same IT people, as in the ACA.
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          May 28 2014: What is it ACA ??
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          Aja B.

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          May 28 2014: No, we won't be using the same team as the Affordable Care Act. :)
        • May 28 2014: Charles I actually made the same response and then deleted it because no one likes to be compared to a failure but your point is well taken. We should learn from other peoples failings so as not to waste time going down the same path. I have been designing new systems for over 45 years and one of the most prolific errors is a time restraint. It is like telling Michelangelo we would like a painting on the ceiling of the Sistine chapel and we want it done before we open in two weeks. Systems design is somehow considered different than an artist, but it should not be. Every stroke of the brush or key counts and is connected to the entire expression on the medium. Perfection takes time, if they wanted speed, the ceiling could have been beige. When will the painting be done? Only the artist can tell when the image on medium matches the image in their head.
          “I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.”- Michelangelo

          Aja, your name is going on this piece of art, don't let anyone else tell you when it is done. Did you notice that Obamacare is beige? We want it done in two weeks!!! :)

          A democracy creates great ideas but it takes a dictatorship to get things done. Someone has to decide. That is why we have one President, one Governor, one CEO, one head of household, and one Aja.
      • May 28 2014: Yubal

        ACA--Affordable Care Act or Obamacare. The initial federalization of health care in America or the expansion of The Veterans Administration, which ever one prefers.
        • May 28 2014: Charles, I must chime in here.
          I have some experience in this field.

          The expansion of the VA's nation-wide system of Hospital and Clinics
          would be the best way to handle today's situation. Private Hospitals
          and Clinics could be vetted, as they enlist. A single payer, the US
          government, using taxed-payer dollars would be the proper way to
          pay providers for services rendered. A national relative value schedule
          should pay set amounts for each procedure. All would benefit.
          Your local auto mechanic has been charging you the same way for 50 years.

          Insurance Corporations insure against risk. Their track record for payment
          to widows before 1905 Armstrong Congressional Investigation, was terrible.
          After a husband died, the widow had to put up with negotiation for benefits.

          Since they started to sell Disability and Health Insurance, many of them
          just denied claims to begin with, and fought the actual writing of checks until
          claimants tired. Ask your parents. Everyone used to have a story.

          They gladly accept premiums, and fight thereafter to avoid claim payment..
          They even call the people who handle the claims, "claims adjusters".
          Adjusting claims to save the Insurance Corporations' money.

          ACA--Affordable Care Act or Obamacare. The initial federalization of health care in America is costing citizens 150% of the medical costs incurred. Premiums should be lower. Insurance Corporations reaped the advantage of no Sales Agent Commissions
          as part of their acquisition costs for these 30 Million new Premium Payers. 25% for
          the first year's premiums, times 30 Million, is a chunk of change. Then for the life-
          time of the policy, 2.5% per year, with premiums (larger as time goes by), times 30
          Million, guaranteed by an IRS penalty, that chunk of change, would make me rich.
          I suggest a close look at the recently retired from Washington DC. Maybe a peek
          at how and who funded their golden parachutes. I love research...
      • May 29 2014: Frank

        I think we may have a major point of disagreement here.
        I submitted a Question-Conversation to TED that was posted on Ideas concerning the VA. I tried to move your Post over there, but to no avail. I will respond here and then maybe you can respond over there. It does get confusing.
        Being a Vet I too, have some experience with the VA. The hospital I visited was dirty, the staff was indifferent and the Doctor was from the Middle East. The problem here was that I could not speak his language and he, gave me the impression that he did not care if he spoke mine. I left the VA with no answers to my problem and never to return. This was in the 70's.
        My experience with military Doctors is not much different. My infant son had an eye infection. They gave me an ointment to put in his eyes. prior to applying the ointment I read the fine print; it was for foot bunions. This was in the 60's.
        Frank, a government run anything is, at best, incompetent at worst corrupt and incompetent. When one adds in the dismal aspects of a union, which is the VA it just goes down hill from that point. There is simply no incentive or motivation to excel in anything except self greed and promoted complacency. Protected employment, unions, is to protect some of the worst aspects of the human character, laziness and indifference.
        • May 29 2014: The VA keeps getting hammered but I have had nothing but the best of care.
          We can only go on what our experiences have shown us.

          This ACA is a beginning. Unfortunately, my experiences in this field tell me
          that an Insurance Policy is the wrong answer. The Chief Justice wanted to
          see the US get started on providing our taxed-payers some benefits that our
          militaristic government has ignored. Thus he voted in favor of a bad plan,
          breaking a 4 to 4 tie, had a press conference and left..

          The corruption that ensues from Corporate Insurance taking premium dollars
          and sharing them with the premium creating politicians will someday be exposed.

          The bogey-man called socialized medicine is a false doctrine.
          Taxed-payers are due benefits for their taxes.
          They are not supposed to be paying for continuous wars.

          We should all have homes, water, sewage, healthcare, and many other benefits
          due a society that pays taxes for those benefits. What we get is merely excuses
          for poor performance, and enforcement agencies, jails and prisons, with drugs
          allowed by the blind eye of enforcement both in and out of said jails and prisons.

          Our government(s) diffused down to townships, are best at building statues and
          constructing massive structures to house themselves, plus they do really well in
          cutting grass in parks, in towns, and cities, and creating park vacation areas on
          both state and federal lands. This shows that government can do some jobs well.

          Back to the VA. The idea is sound. A nation-wide system is in place to provide
          benefits that 30 Millions Americans were already getting at Emergency Rooms
          across the nation. Perhaps quality control issues need to be addressed.

          The funny part is that the Congress and Obama read the statistics, but somehow
          before the Congress started to legislate, never considered how medical care was
          currently being provided, and "who" was paying the bills for those uninsured
          30 Million Americans.
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          May 29 2014: Charles,
          I have to agree to some extent about Government healthcare, Most military doctors are better schooled in GSW and detached limbs then pediatrics at the military family clinics. I had a minor genetic defect that was exacerbated by my service and never well treated. Now, I am mobility limited and have used the local VA hospital for services. Two findings. I have a contracted MD who is my gateway to the VA hospital and she is totally responsive to my needs. She has told me to use my Medicare to get medical care in the civilian community as I only have recurring appointments on an annual basis and three plus months wait for requested appointments. The clinics that I have used are sometimes a long wait but once there, I have found efficient and friendly service, However, some of the personnel apologized for the "system" .

          Socialized Medicine. I lived in foreign countries for many years and have experience both systems of governmental medical insurances and governmental medical care facilities.
          They kind have worked but....they were better in small countries.... smaller then my home state of Texas. Otherwise not so much.
          Two personnel incidents. In London, I threw out my back. I hurt and curled into a fetal ball and could not move. This happened in my morning shower at 7 am. My wife contacted the hotel for help. Calls were made for medical services, It was not a life threatening condition, so I could not get emergency treatment. I would have to wait for care and they would take my information and call back. Finally about 4 pm, one of the hotel porters had a cousin, who knew a....
          Anyway, I was loaded into a cab and sent to an acupuncturist. for treatment. It worked.
          In Germany, where their Medicare withholding was 18%, I had an operation at a medical center, Germans using their government insurance were in bays of 20 patients on the second floor.... With my private insurance, I had a private room and nurse on the top floor
        • May 30 2014: Charles I just finished Deleting this mistaken reply
          I wrote it to Keith Henline instead of you. But, here it is.
          I tend to slip a bit in these days of elder self-abuse.

          I was looking for you about the VA conversation you had concerning another talk.
          I didn't find the one you wrote about. Now I am going to watch Beth Noveck,
          some 2 years later, today, May 29, 2014. I entered Veterans Administration into
          TED's search engine, and Beth Noveck popped up with her talk. I think she works
          inside the White House.

          Well, today, 2 years later, I watched Beth Noveck. She gave a full talk 17+ minutes.
          Well memorized. I thought she was trying to cover a few to many items that then
          became more of a generalized revolution of where government could be changed.

          History is funny, 2 years later, today, whistle-blower Edward Snowden is the Hot topic,
          and the government's oversight role has become suspect. A certain lack of integrity
          from the White House, coupled with abandonment of; "The buck stops here." policies,
          and new secret presidential directives has disrespected 35 of our friendliest foreign leaders and embarrassed most Americans.

          I have the feathers, if someone can find the tar.
          I don't think that would be going to far. Do you?

          I'm going to miss Ada's emails.
        • May 30 2014: Charles, I did not mean to ignore your bad experience at the VA.
          They have had a lot of poor press in the past, and just recently.

          Overall, my VA experience has left me with a quality of life that I can live with.
          It has taken me 12 years to get my health back. Including 6 months
          in-hospital, chemo, and radiation. The VA all the way has been there.

          When they were too far away, the 24 hour Advice Nurse suggested I go to
          the Emergency Room at the nearby local private hospital. Other than billing
          problems I ran into, I have no complaints.

          It is true the Doctors may be from Iraq, Iran, Korea, Formosa, India, China or
          elsewhere. But, they are great, and ever so caring. The VA uses Doctors and
          Surgeons, and Nurse Providers who perform their duties well. Assisting them,
          are staffs of Registered Nurses, Nurses, and other licensed medical professionals,
          and staffs of attendants, and more volunteers than you can shake a stick at.

          My records are visible to me on my computer 24/7, complete in every respect.
          I see what my Doctor sees. We are on the same page. With 50 pages of my old
          and current prescriptions. I am a click away from re-ordering. Or I can use the
          telephone, or go see the Doctor. I currently attend a 6 month, diabetic class, held
          on every 3rd Monday for two hours, which my Doctor also attends. Followed by a
          meeting and up to date examination with my Doctor. These are some serious people.
          They work hard to keep we Veteran's healthy. They do not make the big bucks that
          civilian Doctors make. But, they try and we their patients' love and appreciate them.

          The VA has a patient's Bill of Rights. The NSA does not violate it. If they did, we
          just might rise up and take care of business. We Veterans fear no one.
      • May 30 2014: Frank

        I could not respond to your Post as there was no 'reply' thing so I resorted to your first Post.
        My point of contention is not so much with the VA, bur rather with the incompetence of government to adequately manage anything. I am sure that there are good doctors and other staff members, that was not my personal experience however. And as we are seeing the incompetence, the maleficence, even to the allegations a covered up death by security are rampant.
        As in education, housing and others the government has no Constitutional responsibility or authority in healthcare. To do so the government is operating outside the constraints of the Constitution.There is no such thing as a little bit pregnant. The Constitution is intact or it is not.
        NSA, the government, will now violate anything it deems necessary in the name of national security, a ruse to violate and trample the Constitution.
        As the NSA routinely violates the Fourth Amendment, "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized." what value is a patients bill of rights?
        There are good teachers and administrators, but the overwhelming evidence is that our educational system has failed, the same holds true regards the VA and the government.
        Let me use this analogy, when an apple begins to rot the rot does not stay in one place, but will eventually consume the whole apple.
        The VA rot is not a new spot, it has festered for decades under many administrations under many oversight committees. What we are seeing is government at work.
        I am delighted that your care has been good. When one defends his country, his country is compelled to care for him.
        • May 30 2014: Charles, your frustration seeps through.

          Most of us who have lived for a long time understand what has happened inside
          of our many governments. It is like watching a painter add paint to his canvas, to
          cover up his mistakes, or when he changes his mind.

          Americans are youthful, and resilient, and do not yet imagine or fear changes.
          We who can judge so easily these episodes of evil, have aged, and lost a step
          while we've watched the small things develop into a continuous array of evil.
          We are guilty ourselves of doing nothing.

          The Internet has provided avenues of communication that we elders have not
          been able to use well because of our inabilities. We cry wolf, but our cries are
          but a strangled thing.

          Some elders, as described above, having held high places in government(s)
          (and bolstered by 'yes-men'), understand also, and thus with their contempt,
          continue to effect bad changes that affect each of us. They wink and raise
          their flutes of champagne to one another after giving yet another speech at
          prices ranging to the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

          Now another door is being quietly closed, as Aja B. competently informs us.
          I will miss this opportunity to praise some and question others.
          I have grown to love witnessing.