01 July 2010

Why I Love TED!

My favorite TV show is still the Big Bang Theory on CBS.

But my favorite TV channel these days isn’t CNN, CBS, NBC or even the Comedy Channel (sorry, Jon and Stephen), it’s TED -  TED is a website. TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design. It got it’s start as a conference on those very subjects but it long ago left for bigger territory with bigger dreams. TED has become a “clearinghouse that offers free knowledge and inspiration from the world's most inspired thinkers” and believes in “the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and ultimately, the world.”

TED provides access to hundreds and hundreds of short videos (usually 20 minutes or less) of brilliant (and sometimes famous) people, giving amazingly clever (and often humorous) lectures about challenging, thought provoking ideas that at the very least push you to reconsider your preconceptions, prejudices and weltanschauung.

If that all sounds Utopian, left-wing and boring, its not; at least, not as far as I can tell. And let me assure you in particular on that boring point. Yes, it may sometimes be a little quixotic, but the world could use a little dose of Don Quixote’s approach to life from time to time. Cynicism is one virtue I have yet to see expressed by anyone on TED.

Watching TED makes you want to go do something in the world, rather than buy something at the mall.  Just this week, I’ve had Dan Pink shake my faith in the power of rewards to motivate (i.e., corporate bonuses don’t necessarily drive the best results), learned that architecture helped drive the evolution of music (thanks to David Byrne) and found out about how a growing “cognitive surplus” might drive change in the world.

TED is the professor you wished for in college because TED makes you want to come back for more, do your own research and talk to other people about what you’ve learned (which usually scares the hell out of them: “you want to talk about ideas...?).
As you can tell, I love TED.  Give TED some of your cognitive surplus, just 20 minutes on the subject of your choice, and I think you will too.

Thanks for reading.

Richard Russeth

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