TED Conversations

David Irvine

Team member, maidsafe.net limited

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Is TED turning into a "my 15 minutes of fame" site?

Recently I have seen, as usual, many inspiring and enlightening TED talks. This is what I use TED for, inspiration, enlightenment and furthering knowledge though great questions and amazing invention as well as many other things.

I do feel, however, there are many more statements that focus on 'I call it' or 'I was nearly in tears', all in their own right maybe entertaining, but not in line with what I watch TED for. I suppose I am saying there is many more talks that highlight speakers rather than the subject matter. Not that highlighting speakers is not great, especially if they are exceptional, however it was always more the subject matter that inspired me.

I feel a wee bit uneasy when speakers are nearly in tears with shacking voices stating how 'if we could only not starve folks, or 'why do these people suffer so'. Now I do feel these talks have a place and an important place, but to me they are in a different genre than Technology, Innovation (Education) and Design.

So do we need two distinct TED streams, a TED one and a compassion, human felling, doing 'right for rights sake' type stream?


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    Sep 6 2011: Absolutely nothing wrong with 15 minutes of fame if you know what to do with it. The question you seem to be asking is- Is a strong emotion the only way to motivate people, create involvement? Or, more subtly- Do emotional appeals act as a catharsis that allows us to suffer in empathy and thus expiate our guilt for doing nothing. I'm wondering if there are any studies that tried to lasso a metric around how to get people into problem solving mode? I bet NASA has a ton of papers on handling emergencies in mission critical situations.
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      Sep 6 2011: I think this hits the nail on the head! maybe it's the old powerpoint or presentation story I heard years ago. A presentation is 5% content, 5% look and feel and 90% how you talk or the emotion you convey (cannot remember the exact phraseology).

      Maybe I am saying I am expecting more than 5% content and perhaps even looking fro 90% content and a 5% emotion, or maybe I am being way to cynical and logical, I suppose we are not computers. In any case I do feel the balance has shifted to the former in a big way and it was unexpected for me and I really personally feel I have lost something that used to be TED.

      Still think it's way out there in terms of these kind of sites (and there are more and more now) but I did like the 20 minute, very interesting stuff to learn and from people who obviously loved what they spoke about, whether they were great presenters or not. They all seemed to be to me and did not need the large emotional outpouring.

      I do realise the Khan academy etc. exist so for pure learning there is always that, it was more the quick,, changing subjects, jaw dropping nuggets that were always a joy to find. Still there but I bet I now miss some as I tend to watch a lesser % of new releases.

      Then again maybe TED has done it's job with me and I do now seek innovation from everywhere and my expectation levels are higher than when I started ? who knows :-)

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