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Let's open source this conversation platform

I believe in the power of conversation. We need more conversation on the world, and why only use it here at ted.com. Lots of different portals on the internet would benefit from this great tool.
Forums on the internet are disorganized and conversations remain forever without taking any action.

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Closing Statement from Juan Calderon

The conversation platform at TED has a strong respectful community that feeds and drives the conversations taking place. It also has a well designed 'tool' that makes conversations better than the typical forum. We need to have better conversations all around the Internet. The typical forums are not good for having a conversation. Having the tool open sourced would require that TED would not be affiliated with the tool, that is, since no one can tell what the tool would be used for. We can have both a big conversation at TED taking place, and small conversations around other places on the Internet. Opening the tool is possible, it has to not be affiliated with TED.

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    Mar 13 2012: The question that is now on my mind is if it is better to have a huge centralized conversation at TED, or plenty of smaller descentralized conversations all around?
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      Mar 14 2012: I think we won't derail the TED conversation if we replicate this format throughout the internet. I'll stay on TED. It's well kept and people here are respectful of each other. That's rare, for an internet discussion forum. I think that will always be an attractive conversation!

      I say, dude, run with the idea. Try to get the source code. Let's open source it. I'd support you!
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      Mar 15 2012: Could there not be both? You ask whether it is better to have a huge centralized conversation or many decentralized ones. An advantage of retaining a large one, regardless of what may happen elsewhere, is that the larger ones tend to be more vibrant. Smaller conversations tend to depend on the continuing energy and engagement of a few people and fizzle when life takes those people out of the loop. At least that has been my experience.
      I understand that you want the code for free to use elsewhere. If TED as an organization chose to offer that, I think they should be entitled to a stipulation that those who use it are in no way affiliated with TED. One thing I appreciate, for example, is how noncommercial and egalitarian this site feels. Many forums are, in contrast, thinly disguised platforms for the owner to advertise his pay services for coaching, ebooks, or whatever. I would hate for TED's good name to be linked to such enterprises that often actually discourage open discussion in favor of sale of a point of view. Similarly there is a respectfulness and substantive focus here that is not always true of other forums. Again, TED as an organization should not have to worry that sites without these standards could represent themselves as being somehow affiliated.
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        Mar 15 2012: I totally agree. In order for this idea to take place TED shouldn't be affiliated, hence responsible for what the tool is being used for. That is a good point.
        I can see all sorts of conversations taking place, and not all with the respect and positive attitudes that we see here. It will be used for topics that TED won't want to be affiliated with.
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    Mar 14 2012: Yes, do please go for it, Huan, and spread this great conversational format. I think TED has by far the best conversations I have found, mostly because of the diversity and intelligence and tolerance of the people in it, which is possible because of the format set up around conversations rather than around something the people themselves have in common. And TED is set up to ensure people stay on topic and get rewarded with Thumbs Up when hitting the mark (the Thumbs Up emails sort of make my day!). I like the TED format also because people can select the topic they want to converse upon rather than select the particular group and then select the topic in the group, as in LinkedIn. There is generally more passion in the TED conversations than in forums or blogs that are run continually by one person! TED is inclusive and fresh!
  • Mar 14 2012: I don't really understand what the author of this thread means... (im not sure that he does either)

    But - I'd really love to see a Google Hangout type feature that allows you to join the hangout of any topic...
    This would result in ongoing live conversations mostly based around whatever videos are on the Ted.com homepage.
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    Mar 14 2012: Juan, I don't really get your point. TED is already accessible to everybody with an internet connection. In addition, everybody is free to create any kind of blog or other communication platform he wants on the internet.
    So what would be the benefit of having, let's say, 10 TED clones on the internet ? What exactly do you want to "open source" ? The design ?
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      Mar 14 2012: I have been thinking about conversation on the internet. The conversation tool that first comes to my mind is a forum. But typical forums are horrible. There are a couple of things (apart from the community) that make conversations at TED work better than other forums. First, there is the time limit, which makes the conversation end. You can start a new one, but each has to end. That is important. Second, there is the categorization into ideas, questions and debates which gives---the respondent---an idea of what type of replies the person who started the conversation wants to get. You can edit your posts, and there are also lots of little design details that make it nice and simple.

      I have to be honest with everybody. I have been looking for a good conversation tool, and I like this one. Instead of copying it, which would take me some coding, energy and time. I thought it might be easier to ask the people who already have it to share it with everybody. After having used TED conversations I don't want to install a typical forum on a website.
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        Mar 14 2012: Juan, ok, I see what you mean, but on the other hand we don't really know what the design reasons behind other online forums are. They might have their reasons to design their forum in a particular way.
        Check out for example http://bigthink.com/ . While it is a far cry from TED it's not so bad in terms of overall design and usability.
        Implementing a time out for conversations wouldn't be all that difficult if somebody really wants. Also other design principals could be easily adapted on other forums.
        Again, I don't really see much of a point in making the TED platform open source......Sorry.
  • Mar 14 2012: I just can't help join THIS conversation.

    My english is not as fluent as i wish it would be. Sorry about that.

    By the way, this very conversation is exactly the one i need rignt now.

    I guess it's a bit because i am humble enough at 4am to search something that fits the idea I want to share.
    But talking about humility, i'm pretty sure that it's way much more because i'm lucky. ( And here come the moment i'd actually hesitate using smiley for written emphasis )

    It leads me to a first point, let's call it ...
    1-A:
    (Being an optimistic newbe ted enthousiastic, i'll ask about like it already exists.)
    Where is the TED's widget i could ask any question and it give me a direct answer, or related talks or conversations?
    Of course i would help this A.I. powered browser with thumbs up in case of pertinent work.


    1-B
    Is there any reason why nonprofit knowledgefocused internet plateforms are not yet all mashed up?
    I mean, wouldn't it be nice to connect TED to wikipedia?

    2-A (why i'm here)
    With people interested in technology, entertainment and design; Can't we organise all TED's content as a cool designed videogame-like technology tree?
    Conversations included... or first.
    I believe it should at least be an option among "most replies", "threads recently update", etc...

    2-B
    Ted conversations are nice yet. And cheap designed platform may be the only way they think of to get serious comments.
    But i think it's a failure. I'am tired to read agressive comments of selfsatisfied sceptics. Even if ther is not that much of them. At least we should let enter funny people to balance
    ...
    Or not


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    Yeah! TED actually MUST have an open source part (totally agree with your idea Juan, thanks for it, i wanna advertise for with my contribution)
    But why don't you just start it anywhere else like on "IwannaBeAPartOfTED.com" or "TEDlab.com".
    One day or an other, they'll notice, don't you think so?


    4
    What about TED² : Talks about TED's technology, entertainment and design?
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    Mar 13 2012: you are very busy to tell other people what should they do with their product.
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      Mar 14 2012: That seems to miss the point... I can't understand a way of organizing online discussion as a 'product'. Why can't we replace the forum format with this interesting Conversation format, and then alter it to be more relevant to different kinds of discussion?

      TED is about the free and open spread of ideas. I somehow doubt they'd be offended if this idea spread.
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        Mar 14 2012: the discussion itself is not something you can opensource. i certainly thought he means the platform (tool, as he says).
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          Mar 14 2012: Ah, more miscommunication. Yes, the discussion isn't something you can opensource, as a discussion is nothing but a byproduct of human relations. I mean to say what you say, that the platform should be open-sourced. Which is why I say we should replace the old internet forum platform with this format, which I'm calling the Conversation Format (for lack of any other definition).

          And I make the claim that it's both a good idea and one which wouldn't offend the owners of TED.
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        Mar 14 2012: Completely agree with you @spencer Ferri !
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        Mar 14 2012: spencer, i don't have the faintest clue what you are talking about.

        the platform is a program. it is a software written by some people. it is their product. so you can humbly suggest that it should be open source. in an email, for example. but discussing publicly what ted should do with their own software is ...
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          Mar 14 2012: ... is just an idea dude. And we're here to discuss ideas. People tell me what to do all the time, with my life. And my life is far more personally mine then any of the fiction I've written or the things I've built. But I'm not offended, we live in a world of shared ideas and mutual agreement, and TED represents that spirit. Why is it offensive to suggest new ways of using their software?

          You're right about us suggesting they open-source their product, and indeed doing it humbly and not making a huff about it if they refuse. But where else do we discuss if it's a good thing to do, than here?
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    Mar 13 2012: I prefer ted, one can sit back and see that it won't devolve into petty organic measurement contests,i can't stand facebook it feels shallow.Though i think the UI could do with some upgrading as there are some brilliant forum UI's out there that are simply light years ahead of the others.
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      Mar 13 2012: I agree with you that conversations at TED are nice. Also that other forums and facebook can be shallow. I think that the design of this platform helps the conversation develop. Though it might be because of the people. Ken can you point me towards some nice forums UI, all i've seen are boring and difficult to follow.
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    R H 20+

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    Mar 12 2012: I also believe in the power of communication. I think that's why so many rich and powerful people are secretive. They like hanging on to the power. "Loose lips sink ships" and all that. But I think the internet and the resulting social networks will change all that. The majority of people on the planet now have the ability to communicate with each other immediately and with little cost. I think it's the most revolutionary invention since the wheel - much greater than the printing press. We've only just begun to change. So if these forums are disorganized and ineffective, how do we make them more potent? How can it be done so those who are interested can find the appropriate conversation and participate? It all begins with dialogue. The results will follow. Thanks for the idea, but how do we do it?