TED Conversations

Lara Stein

TED Licensing Director,


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How do we capture the collective wisdom and engage the global TEDx communities?

There have been over 1400 TEDx events globally. Each of these TEDx events are nurturing incredible local communities. These communities value education and the power of ideas to change the world. How do we connect these communities and share their collective wisdom?

How do we help these communities take action, both locally and globally?

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    Feb 17 2011: IBM has a technology that they use ,with incredible results. They are able to create a 3-days brainstorming with maybe 150.000 people from 100 countries. It is called InnovationJam. It is a collaborative platform and I believe they could give it pro bono to TED to start an experiment of planetary creation.

    In term of taking action, I believe action comes from emotion, and emotion and involvement happen when something is close to you. Maybe TEDx should only be a GREAT LISTENER, someone who offers a platfrom to give more energy and visibility to issues which are already there, in the community, so maybe the question is AS TEDX organizers , HOW TO BE A GREAT LISTENER.
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    Feb 15 2011: I would love to see a TEDx events app on FACEBOOK which worked like the birthday app which would identify TEDx events on the day they are happening and have the information available for folks to add to their personal profiles.

    How about setting up stations at TEDx events to SKYPE between TEDx events happening on the same day around the world?
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    Feb 16 2011: Here are some ideas:

    - How about allowing to let the TEDx organisers collaborate with TV Broadcast?
    - Encourage radical openness and hyper-connectivity by giving the example.
    - Monetizing might help
    - Make and strengthen connections, between people and organisations
    - Reach out to RSA, Pechakucha, CCC, HUB, Hackerspaces, and similar groups
    - Supporting the talks, writing endorsements
    - Keep the positive sum games, weed out the 0 or negative sum game structures.
    - Start the Age of Splendorism (just coining a term here)
    - Look at religions on how they did it and do it?

    Here's a bigger idea:
    If we can install "TED dojo's" worldwide, there will be physical places where we can all connect, and network the networks.
    On a local scale, people can enter this local space (there already exist spaces like this) and "post" their local problems, or global problems. And discuss with the people who gather there together and take local actions.
    (this is like the iidea that I contributed to google's 10^100 project)=> "Apply leading-edge web tools to communities and cities to help people participate, document and share solutions to the challenges that their communities face"
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    Apr 2 2011: I'm a part of the TED community, by definition, but not entirely in spirit. Here's why.

    If you were "choosing-up" teams for a game, the TED community would be the last kid picked, because no matter how many smarts he has, he's weak. He's the geeky kid with the good ideas. What he lacks is street smarts and street cred. Many great ideas, sure, but the community at large ignores him because he doesn't know how to grab the community by the collar and make his point loudly and forcefully. TED lacks leadership skills.

    Much of the problems in our world stem from evil and corruption. Through the TED lens, evil is viewed as diversity.
    Sometimes you need to call-out the evil doer and the crook. But that's not the TED style.

    TED can't seem to deal with BS. [I'm not sure those two letters will even be printed]. Nevertheless, much of our society spins lies for special interests. EG: "Global warming is hoax", "Obama care has death panels", this 'birther' nonsense, de-regulating industry will increase our standard of living, trickle-down economics is good for the workers, tax-cuts for the rich.....shall I stop??? How many scientist pound their fists on the table to debunk these myths that are crippling us from any kind of progress? Can you name one? That's because our best thinkers - those with the most credibility will not loudly demonstrate for truth. They do it quietly. They'll write another paper. But that's not enough. They must shouted-down by the know-nothings. they must push-back.

    Sometimes you need to holler and make a fuss to get noticed. How many years must we waste before tackling the pressing issues with genuine solutions and not sound bytes. The TED community needs , some grit, some voice, some ca-hones.
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    Mar 4 2011: Having perused a few similar threads, I think there may be a way to pull other people's suggestions all together for this purpose.

    What if you rolled out sub-domains that either gathered members by region or be sector (e.g. toronto.ted.com or health.ted.com) and enabled a few features into those areas, like the conversations platform (or a modified version) to do specific things:

    - a way to find people interested in speaking at local or thematic events (with their ideas/topics),
    - find people who have project ideas,
    - find people willing to volunteer on projects or at events, etc.

    Then people could participate in the broad community (here) and in their self-selected niches.

    Edit: It also occurs to me that it would be cool to have TED conversations actually function as conversations with the speakers- e.g having a thread where community members could gather and maybe vote on a list of questions to ask specific speakers and then have someone interview that person using the selected questions. It might help to get tangible actionable suggestions on appealing topics.
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    Feb 16 2011: Ask TEDx Organisers to make an (18 minute?) video summary about how they organised the event/ strengths/weaknesses/pitfalls etc and publish them on the TEDx Organisers channels.
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    Feb 15 2011: Inspire cross TEDx collaboration (xTEDx?) by inviting communities to work on a shared problem. This would mobilize a tremendous resource for the planet.

    Pick a theme each year and invite innovation and collaboration. Some themes would manifest local experiments while others would require cross cultural collaboration on systemic issues.

    Recruit a small knowledgeable advisory board to provide leadership and cross community facilitation. Make 18 minutes available in Long Beach each year for someone to report on the new ideas and best practices that arise out of the exercise.
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      Feb 15 2011: I really love these ideas. I think that organizing our local TEDx conference around a global, annual theme, and having a component of the conference dedicated to collaborative work on a shared problem, would be phenomenally successful in our community. People would be really excited about it.
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        Feb 16 2011: More and more I'm hearing the TEDx community in Grand Rapids ask, "what are we going to DO?"

        On Monday I had the pleasure of listening to Clay Shirky talk about Cognitive Surplus. The TED and TEDx community represents a massive organized supply of cognitive surplus. What would be great is if TED could go one step further and help facilitate the demand side. I think the selection of an annual problem/theme/challenge would do that.

        We've pulled together an great team to create and host our event, but these awesome people and the local TEDx community would be even more enthused to "do" something in the world that has lasting meaning.
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    Feb 11 2011: TEDx organizers should know each other and be aware of each other's projects. How they can know each other? Idea that just came to my mind is showing one TEDx video at each TEDx event.
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    Feb 16 2011: What about national TEDx events organised by the TEDx organisers in the respective country. This would have an even bigger impact and we can spread the word about TED.
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    Feb 15 2011: well, my idea is bringing together TEDX and HUB (http://the-hub.net) may help to create the policy environment in
    which strong and responsible can work to address local and global needs.
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      Feb 16 2011: See www.earth-intelligence.net for the basics. Read to talk--and if you can get Sir Richard Branson's attention (his corporate development people do not compute), you're on to both OpenBTS for the five billion poor, and start up fuinding for the World Btrain and Global Game (with one billion paying $5 each to eradicate corruption in governments, corporations, and non-governmental organizations, this is both as radical as it gets, and the fastest, cheapest way to get to a prosperous world at peace.
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    Feb 13 2011: RE. Helping TEDx communities take action - there is some inspiring conversation happening through the TEDx various communication tools available to TEDx organizers, but I agree that a more fluid platform would help. Example that comes to mind is what Sprouter is doing for entrepreneurs - a very social platform where it is easy to find and offer support. Previous TEDx organizers could be selected for Q&As, as Sprouter does with successful entrepreneurs.

    On a more tactical thought - What if we had a way of voting the best idea out of each TEDx event to a pool where every year the TED community could vote on the best TEDx-generated idea. The winner could be given a reward to help them bring their idea to life, similar to what TED does but more crowdsourced.
    • Feb 15 2011: Because there's a flood of wonderful information that's growing daily, we need to collate and summarize the key "call to action points", and make the connections easier to act on. We don't suffer from a lack of good ideas, we suffer from a lack of time and attention to put them into action. Therefore, make the "next steps" easy to accomplish and "scan" (so people can skim the basic information, and dive in deeper as time/energy/passion moves them).
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    Feb 13 2011: I was visiting a Palestinian refugee camp in Jordan earlier today to meet with different members of the refugee camp to introduce to them the concept of TEDx events and the TEDxDeadSea event that I'm organizing in Jordan at the end of April in order to get them involved and participate at the event, as I'm trying to include people from the different areas and backgrounds in Jordan in our event to make it a wholesome and inclusive event as opposed to an elitist event.

    The refugee camp as you could imagine is a poor part of Jordan, however, with many untapped talents, and even one of our speakers is a 19-year old nursing student from the actual refugee camp itself, but what is more important is the fact that after I met with the group of young men and women of the refugee camp, they had very interesting questions like: what is a tangible result(s) of the TEDx event that you're organizing at the DeadSea that you're telling us about, and how would some of the ideas discussed at the event be practically implemented, and how can we engage with the global TEDx communities.

    Now, one very essential component to engage these members of the Palestinian refugee camp in Jordan with the global TEDx communities is first and foremost to enable them to communicate via a platform that TED would create (much similar to this TED Conversations platform) where they can learn from experience/ideas implemented/innovations of various other communities and enable them to be more open to the outside world in terms of ideas/innovations/and constructive discussions.

    Now participating at a TEDx event in Jordan is one step, but more long-term steps and actions would require more direct communication and exchange between the various TEDx communities global for the benefit of everyone, as one idea/experience in Lahore might change/help change the life of someone in Tokyo.

    I think we all ought to seriously think of practical ways to achieve this and allow everyone to be part of it.
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    Apr 1 2011: We must make the change the conversation and the collaboration paradigm, so that each contribution gradually leads toward a single solutions.

    The problem with forums is that the more contributors they get, the more confusing and hard to follow it is, which I believe is a contradiction, since "collective" implies the "many". And I believe in the power of many.

    But how can we really weight others views and suggestions and build on each other? There are so many comments that it's impossible to read them all and understand where the community is actually going.

    I suggest a different kind of interactivity on this website: instead of qualitative data (comments) only, each contribution should link to all the others that relate to it, in a sort of a surfable 3-dimensional web of contribution. Drill down (even visually, it helps) to see more contributions that address an issue in more detail (replies and direct comments), roll up to see aggregated data.

    Each contribution should be processed so to provide quantitative data also, even if just a simple "yes/no" on a topic, which in aggregated form would help sift through the different solutions provided.

    It's just an option, but I believe the solution is in this direction.
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    Mar 21 2011: Infect community college speech and drama departments. Let TED creep into colleges and universities and foster new ideas in new thinkers before they are indoctrinated with old ideas.
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    Mar 11 2011: What a challenge... Sometimes I feel TEDx organizers work hard focusing on their audiences but less in TEDx community. Sharing knowledge and ideas is more than uploading the videos of TEDx event.

    Maybe plattforms like TED Conversations can become a powerful tool to capture collective wisdom from TEDx communities.

    It could be useful to share in TEDx websites information and contents from others TEDx events. This information could be showed as a widget in website to connect another TEDx website contents.

    Also, it could be positive to organize webinars sharing ideas, knowledge and experiences from TEDx community.
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    How about a designated topic expert or champion? Who probably has many of the answers but can also co-ordinate and collaborate a collective "answer" to many of the common problems organisers face? eg logistics, financing, managing volunteers etc

    It would probably need to be further managed into 3 levels of "acceptance" too. eg.
    1. What works
    2. Submitted (and being considered for the final "what works" level)
    3. Not recommended (and why)

    Using above, if we could rate or tag the ideas above, we could identify what makes most sense (and works) for the global community. Kind of like a community "vote" on the collected wisdom. That way the areas with the most feedback could be addressed first.
  • Mar 2 2011: I know TEDx organizers in the China or SE Asia region have kind of connected loosely, so I think there's already a desire for this community to grow.

    Platforms could include a forum for TEDx organizers (registered ones that are beyond just the licensee) so that they can exchange ideas/formats/speakers/logistics.

    Perhaps another requirement in the TEDx programme might be that a TEDx organizer has to connect with at least one TEDx organizer or TEDster in their region (say SE Asia, South Asia, or North America), just so there is some dialogue going on.

    A good example is just Hong Kong - in one year we've overnight had this mushrooming of TEDx events. The enthusiasm is great, but on the other hand, it might oversaturate the city, and on top of that, it might stretch resources thin. We had TEDxHong Kong, TEDxYouth Day, TEDxPearl River Delta, TEDxHKSAR, TEDxKowloon off the top of my head - I think there was one more. Many of them weren't advertised, so it doesn't make it too open to the general population - so more coordinated PR would be great.

    If there are regional hubs emerging - it might be a good idea to actually have TED do a collaboration (kind of like TEDWomen or TEDxChange). Maybe one in China, or one in Hong Kong. That might help consolidate it a bit, and make them bigger in scope as well.
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    Feb 26 2011: I have a few ideas that I'd very much like to initiate:
    1. Encourage regional TEDx associations (collaboration among licensees in the same region) to connect more TEDxers together. We'd gain a larger critical mass of local thinkers and doers.

    2. TEDx organizers should proactively reach out (via Facebook, Twitter, e-mail, TED portal, etc.) with other TEDx organizers in other parts of the world. Find TEDx organizers who are innovative, address similar themes, or have dome something really cool. Start a conversation, share ideas, partner on a shared initiative.

    Let us not wait for someone to tell us what to do, let's collaborate and DO IT.
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    Feb 16 2011: This is in my view the single most important question asked so far. TED is making the same mistake that Amazon and so many others have, and is content to make money from putting butts in seats while perpetuating a stove pipe system of knowledge. TED is knowledge tourism, nothing more, at this point.

    What is needed--and TED certainly has the credibility to make it happen and I am available to bring to bear 20 years of thinking on this--is a World Brain Institute that sponsors the World Brain (grid) with a proliferation of Centers for Public Intelligence and networks focused in harmony on the ten high level threats to humanity, the twelve core policies, and t he eight demographics, using the five methods. All of this is laid out, free as is all my work, at Phi Beta Iota the Public Intelligence Blog.

    TED has not made the leap from finding and sharing cool new ideas to actually building and nurturing a constructive network such as you clearly envision is needed. I am in Oakton VA. Invite me up for a chat, I have to be up there anyway on the 8th of March for a playdate with Doug Rushkoff and Venessa Miemis, but sooner is better.

    This is not rocket science, it can be jump started for $15 million a year, I designed the $3 billion a year open source agency back before I realized the US Government is not at all interested in getting it right, just perpetuating the status quo Industrial Era stovepipes.

    Medard Gabel is in Media, Pennsylvania, for $2-3 million a year he already has the architecture and team ready to go to create the foundation of the digital EarthGame (he was co-creator with Buckminster Fuller of the analog World Game), sponsor him as the mentor senior scientist and Jane McGonical as the rising scientist and get out of the way.

    I know how to create global networks to re-integrate our world of fragmented knowledge. In a nutshell, all organizations have lost their integrity in a holistic sense, and a new form of integrative network is needed. Peace.
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      Mar 5 2011: Robert,

      Appreciating that you seem to have unique perspective, I think you are significantly off in your proclamation that "TED has not made the leap from finding and sharing cool new ideas to actually building and nurturing a constructive network such as you clearly envision is needed."

      TED has become a nexus of coordination for making ideas happen, not just sharing them. I have seen the power of the TED community in action and it is not as you describe. Check out the TED Prize and TED Fellows programs for direct evidence of this.
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      Mar 7 2011: Who do I write the $15M cheque out to?

      It is valid to criticize TED, everything can be improved. I think that organizations external to where real the money transacts like TED are only really great for inspiration. Meritocracy of ideas is a bit of an illusion. Worth Spreading? According to who? Who knows if your idea is about to save the world? Buckminster Fuller was a cool dude so if you are following in his footsteps I guess your heart is in the right place. For all our sakes, Good Luck!
  • Feb 12 2011: I believe that visually mapping TEDx's (on a several different levels) could be very interesting, plus making it available through the web. With so many countries, events, and people involved, it becomes easy to get lost in a sea of information, so i do think it would be fascinating to be able to create other ways to navigate the data, way beyond locality: a fluctuating and visually arresting TEDx psycho-geography so to speak....

    This could help different TEDx organizers identify common passions and interests, plus further collaborations; it could help individuals better understand the internal makeup of the TEDx's of their region, and also visually identify patterns and world-wide movements... are TEDxers suddenly more into certain themes globally, or regionally? Are their communities growing? What is the average age of their attendees? Are there collaborations across borders? What are the most popular TEDxtalks, and are they coming from specific corners? etc etc. The architecture and programming would be the complex component, but once designed, the system could feed itself through tags, and data that the TEDx organizers are already collecting naturally.

    Quite a few TED speakers have made fascinating points about the potential of visualization, and it could be great to get their input on how to benefit; because not only could this data be useful for understanding the bigger picture of the TEDx movement, but also be fun to navigate and become another level of engagement for both the organizers and the general public.

    (The creation of a visual thermometer in other words.)
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      Feb 17 2011: Data visualization as an idea hit me as soon as I read Lara's question.

      For instance - a cloud of word bubbles - the word being a keyword self-generated by the TEDx Organizer, bubble size being the sum of incidents of the word. Clicking a bubble gives you the list of TEDx events that used it. Perhaps a second-level cloud showing frequency of cross-TEDx Origanizer communications flowing from the initial worb bubble.
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    Feb 11 2011: The question "How do we help these communities take action, both locally and globally?" leads to the question "Are the TEDx Events about just sharing ideas or are they also about making ideas happen?" I believe that it has to be about both and a way to do this is for TEDx Organizers to partner with other community groups that are focused on specific issues.

    To help TEDx Organizers do this TED could publish case studies of how this has been done and share best practices. The risk exists that some partner organizations may wish to take over the TEDx event and not understand the roles and responsibilities of the parties.

    Another idea that could be used to connect Organizers would be to have global TEDx days like TEDxYouth on specific issues that are important to many groups. This would create an opportunity for collaboration and from those connections action would happen.
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    Feb 11 2011: I think we are missing a special platform to share all those achievements that captures some information about tools and initiatives that solve little and big problems.

    I'd love to have such and easy app that we, as TEDx organizers, could fill with information, get keywords and associate them as our own brain do it. Actually there's no way to do this as perfect as our brain do, but we have to start from scratch, old way, excel sheet...

    Maybe a crowdsource idea association or something like that. If we can capture such ideas association, we could expand it to a semantic robot that could do this for us.

    It's challenging to think about it and how to solve.
    Sometime ago I thought about TEDxTalks Youtube channel video description. If we can put all those descriptions in a database, we will have data to start.

    I've captured some time ago 2,000 descriptions from TEDxTalks, but I lost my hard drive and I didn't have backup! (shame on me). This took me hours and hours of work. If each TEDxOrganizer could do from your own event, this could facilitate the job. Can you propose this task to licensees google group? They could come up with ideas to enhance such data analysis.
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    Apr 11 2011: Since joining TED this winter, I have watched about forty percent of the available talks for applicability to my work. As I have found true in ancient teachers, modern teacher contributions to humankind can also be summed up according to a small number of major ideas. Might we agree on Aristotle's concept of "logos"? Adler's 102 great ideas come to mind as a wonderful start. If we re-tag the existing talks via a set of dedicated volunteers/translators. Most of what has been mentioned here can be achieved with some facility.

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    Apr 10 2011: The conversations at Active this year were deeply engaging with a focus on imaginative solutions. Thanks!

    What could social networking do to serve as a reliable warning for aftermath of large natural disasters?
    How could reliability be built into the communications?
    Think of fallout from Japan's nuclear reactors or neighboring states in a flood or perhaps man made disasters in Northern Africa?
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    Apr 5 2011: Collective consciousness of these communities will eventually tip the global collective into a paradigm shift that will effectively make changes in the world. Just look at what is happening from the collective effects of the online social networking groups in Africa and the Middle East. Time is speeding up. All will come to fruition in right time.
  • Apr 1 2011: I think Like Rotary Inyetnational TED should come out with a theme for the year and all TEdxthemes across the world could have themes based on the central theme .This will ensure focus and different ideas based on the central or main idea .We could then cull out Doable ideas which can then be implemented as a community. This will ensure that ideas are not just spread but also done and in small ways help change the world!!
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    Mar 29 2011: I think it'll be helpful to put TEDx groups into several categorize and give them spaces to get to know each other. For example, let's make TEDxSouthEastAsia and put TEDxSeoul, TEDxShanghai, and TEDxTokyo. Each groups will have their own network and community, then they will try to bridge themselves to other similar sized groups. TEDxAfrica, TEDxEurope, TEDxAmerica, and so on. In the end, we can expect TEDxEarth.
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    Mar 25 2011: This then so speaks of the TedTalks having gone to SEEd, in other words, you have had more TedX Events, than you have shared TedTalks so far. It to me so speaks of instead of some one lording over us with the here's the answers. We are being feasted with a smorgasbord of fresh ideas, insights and bringing our unique perspectives to the table. to round out the big picture of just how it all works . . much as each and every cell of our being is programmed from within, so is what we become and sparks our interests. the balance of power has shifted from going by the book to hey folks, we haven't taken this that and the other in consideration. we will collectively be clearing the way for youth's creativity and how would you fix. . or would 90% of our problems be fix by our taking time out and simply celebrate our sense of being for a spell.
    love what is happening, more and more people are passing them on, talking about them with others . and yes, growing local communityes into using our minds.
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    Mar 20 2011: We need themes. In the work I have been doing on sustainable futures in the UK I've adapted the idea of the Forum of the Future's five capitals and looked at them as assets - social, human, built (made), natural and financial. I'd suggest grouping the TEDx activity under 5 broad headings and then digging down - to look at topics - like cities, food etc.