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Against TED talks

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I've had a nagging suspicion for a while now that TED talks were becoming more and more like video representations of snake oil shows or SCIgen papers, but I always felt I was alone in this regard.  All the cool kids were into TED, and the water cooler conversations always seemed to include the sentence "... so I heard this one thing in a TED talk...", so what was wrong with me?

Turns out, I'm not as alone as I thought.

Nathan Jurgenson at The New Inquiry (not one of my regular hangouts...) has written a pretty good summation of what I've been feeling all along.
TED attempts to present itself as fresh, cutting edge, and outside the box but often fails to deliver. It’s become the Urban Outfitters of the ideas world, finding “cool” concepts suitable for being packaged and sold to the masses, thereby extinguishing the “cool” in the process. Cutting-edge ideas not carrying the Apple-esque branding are difficult to find.

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In case you haven't noticed, the phenomenon is endemic enough to warrant it's own Onion parody series, and comedian Sam Hyde even crashed the party back in October '13, with predictably hilarious results:

I'll give them this though, the folks at TED have taken the jabs with grace, and even offered their own tips based on the, *ahem*, advice subtley gleaned from the ensuing jocundity:
DED Talks. High TED Talks. Onion Talks. Here in the TED office, you will often hear chuckles as someone watches one of the quickly growing crop of TED spoofs floating in the ether. And surprisingly, there are some pretty good lessons for speakers embedded in these spoofs.
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So, what say you?  Am I still alone?  Does TED tickle your futurist gland?  or leave you facepalming at all the nulla substantia?
Or, if you'd rather have your Ulnar nerve percussed, make up your own TED talk! ->  
The art of faux profundity:
9 Easy steps to your own audience-flattering TED talk
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from an IRC conversation. Come on in! Lots of happenin' convo!

Hm-m-m-m ...

I had only to see one (1) TED to realize/recognize the [effrontery|apostasy|call it what you will] and have not viewed any since.  My apologies to those folk, but there are better usages of my time.  If I need farce, I can always go to YouTube.  Reminds me of a college instructor once proving that 1+1=10 without specifying the base.

I've found some gems among the junk. Mostly the names of people or things I wanted to do my own research on.

Not to defend TED (even though it's become 'the thing' to diss it lately), but IMHO it's an easy thing to adopt a habitual stance of being "above it all" or "tolerantly amused" by almost everything. It's the hipster attitude. And it's a dangerous one that encourages knee-jerk cynicism and makes those who would innovate, or dare to dream, wonder "why even bother?"

Funny how for every TED presentation there are a hundred Reddit habitués all sitting around smirking and tossing out catty comments, secure in their absolute belief they could do it SO much better if only they could get off their asses and actually DO something (for once) instead of merely talk about it.

Or so I'm thinkin'  :)

TED is going to depend on the guests lecturers- just like anything else of its ilk.  Its like the various user groups popularized in the 90s- if there was a good talk, it was a good time.  Otherwise, it was a waste.  And too many wasteful talks spent a lot of the capital of the group... until people weren't willing to come.  There's a lesson to be learned there, I think...

There's a lesson to be learned there, I think...
-wraith808 (February 25, 2014, 01:10 PM)
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Couldn't agree more. Everything has it's Golden Age. TED, originally organized as a one-off event, is certainly past its. But, like the UN, I still think (in the absence of anything better to take its place) it's important that a gathering like TED continue to be around.


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