In a short time, TED Talks have become a phenomena. Under the slogan “Ideas Worth Spreading” by November 2012, TED talks -about Technology, Entertainment and Design- has been watched over one billion times worldwide. The duration of a TED talk is restricted to 18 minutes, with a strong recommendation to use story telling devices and to put some strong emotions in it.
However, it is ironic to ascertain that the most popular TED talks all time are the least interesting ones. The question arises why? We assume that it is caused not by the quality of the ideas, but just by confirmation of already existing ideas, especially in the minds of the invited public, as f.i. perfectly demonstrated by Ken Robinson in the number 1 popular talk “Do Schools Kill Creativity?”, as we discussed earlier in Think Creatively. Also, there is a highly valued component of amusement in the talks; the more emotion the better.
But the root cause of the mediocre ideas is twofold. You must be very special to be invited as a speaker -whatever that means- and you have to be very special and also well-to-do to be allowed to attend the talk in person.
In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TED created a program called TEDx. TEDx are independent TED-like events, which can be organized by anyone who obtains a free license from TED. We believe that this move has made things even worse, because most TEDx talks only adhere to the 18 minutes requirement. Interesting thinking has deteriorated into either confirmation or merely deviant thinking. The basic concept has been the same, but now for local elites. The basic message is: “there are people worth to listen to and if you would associate with them, pay”.
It would be interesting from a sociologist or an anthropologist perspective to study the subjects and the popularity of those. From the philosophy of science and the experiences with creativity and innovation we know already that paradigm shifts and breakthrough ideas are always highly controversial at first. So, it is expected that the most interesting ideas will be found in talks of medium or low popularity.
That said, we still propose a next development for TED talks, the TEDme. People are at random invited to give the TED-talk of their life.
What would be so important for you to speak about, that you will take the effort to prepare a 18 minutes talk that will change the world as it is?
For your preparation, watch this video.