Volume 10 Issue 2 - August 14, 2009 PDF
TED:Ideas Worth Spreading
Yen-An Chen

School of Interactive Arts & Technology
Simon Fraser University

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Foreign Student Correspondent
The Banyan Editorial Office

TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, and Design. It is a conference that brings successful people of international scale together for a gathering of talks and performances that inspire and motivate people on a global scale. Since 2006, the conference has begun uploading a large portion of its talks on the TED website in video and audio format with translations and subtitles of many languages, making "Ideas Worth Spreading" available to a much wider range of audience.

TED conference audiences contain world leaders of the next generation.
As of 2009, the TED conference is held annually in Long Beach, California, along with sister conference TEDGlobal which is held in a different country every other year. It is commonly known to the TED community how much of a privilege an invitation to a TED conference means. Almost every person that has attended a TED conference is known to be successful in some field or other. The talks given are usually but not always limited to 18 minutes per person. There are themes in the conference each year, but it is generally up to the presenter to be “profound” and speak about what they feel is worthwhile.

Chris Anderson: TED's Visionary Curator

Chris Anderson, who took on the position of Curator in 2002, called himself the "TED custodian." At the time, the conference was hanging in balance between what kind of a conference it was going to become. Chris gave a speech persuading the audience at the time that his vision for turning the for-profit event turning into a nonprofit organization would work out well. As a matter of fact, it worked out to a spectacular degree. Thanks to TED, influential ideas and discoveries that would otherwise not receive enough attention are now able to make enormous impact in their respective fields.

TED Curator: Chris Anderson

The TED Prize: Wishes to Change the World
As an incentive to the phenomenal guests every year at the conference, the conference designed the TED Prize that is awarded to three exceptional individuals for the conference. They are each granted "One Wish to Change the World," and given time to decide upon the wish prior to announcement. The wishes are unveiled at an award ceremony during the conference, to which TED will assist with exceptional effort in areas of finance, collaboration, and other means. They are expected to be wishes that are believed to be beneficial to the world in some form.

In TED2006, lead singer Bono of the world’s largest rock band, U2, wished for "a social movement of more than 1 million American activists for Africa."

In TED2007, Former US President Bill Clinton wished for support with his foundation to support Rwanda by building a "sustainable, high quality rural health system for the whole country."

Phenomenal Speakers and Intriguing Topics
Creativity expert Sir Ken Robinson praised the presentations of TED as "Extraordinary evidence of human creativity." The lineups of speakers each year have yet to fail the expectations of the quality of the conference. Speakers include: CEOs of major enterprises such as Google and Microsoft, former US President Bill Clinton and former US Vice President Al Gore, along with many exceptionally talented individuals. They excel across a broad range of endeavor from areas of science, technology, business, global issues, entertainment and the arts.

The conference covers topics from all aspects of life. In an atmosphere that promotes honest and sincere expressions, talks span in many directions. From wonders in marine biology to the latest in computer technology, the secret ways to success to the developments in education systems, and sometimes the unexpected inspirational stories that change lives. These talks spread wisdom in a variety of disciplines that is beyond any results an individual could achieve on their own.
From left: Nobel Peace Prize laureate Al Gore at TED2006; Animal rights activist Jane Goodall at TED2003; Physicist Brian Greene at TED2005

In technology, scientific researcher Jeff Han in mathematical science has years of research paid off with the “Multi-sensor Touchscreen” that is now a revelation to the classic point-and-click computer interfaces. That technology introduced 3 years ago is now in worldwide use with products such as the iPhone.

Meanwhile, auto pioneer Shai Agassi comes up with a bold plan to break the world from fossil-fueled cars by replacing them with an infinitely scalable electric car structure. It is a plan that is realistic, and is in the works with international leaders from different countries.

Except for innovations in science and technology, TED is also a place where ideas gather in deep controversy. Truth, curiosity, and diversity were defined as part of the core values of TED by Chris Anderson, who is now the Curator of TED. This means that sensitive areas such as religion and evolution of life theories are entered and explored upon through the talks of theorists, pastors, artists, philosophers, or "deep" thinkers. Members of TED treat differences with respect and embrace an attitude of encouragement towards the collaboration of different expertise and beliefs. They express themselves towards common grounds that spark inspiration in people to put faith in humankind.

An inspirational and life transforming example is related to design given by Aimee Mullins, who celebrates the success of her prosthetic legs that changed her life from disability to now a model, actor, activist, and an inspiration to sports and the next generation of prosthetics.

Biologist Robert Full also brings hope into preserving nature’s design as he demonstrates manmade sticking surface pads that mimic the way a gecko climbs on surfaces.

On a view about solutions to global issues, Hans Rosling reveals data visuals on the epidemic of HIV diseases around the world. He argues that preventing transmissions, instead of drug treatments, is the way to end HIV altogether. Al Gore has also been annually attending TED to present updates on the latest trends of global warming.

Since 2006, talks and speakers on http://www.ted.com have been gathering public attention at a rapid rate, sometimes by common referrals or as teaching materials of college/university professors. From Malcolm Gladwell’s theory of happiness on spaghetti sauce to a quote presented by scientific genius Clifford Stoll, TED embraces the diversity of perspectives, theories, and concepts most visible in society. TED is an enormous source of inspirational influence from a global community for any person today who wants to succeed in any form of life. TED welcomes people of every discipline and culture for the purpose of understanding the world for the sake of a better future. TED in itself, is the biggest "idea worth spreading".

There is one major similarity that all these breakthroughs in different fields have in common. These breakthroughs only become reality when they are given a stage to hold the world’s attention. If a world-changing idea stays inside one individual, it is the same as if the idea never existed. This is something TED celebrates, the fact that it is a stage where ideas that change lives, evolve industries, and give hope to countries around the world can be spread in mass. TED brings together the most innovative, creative, determined, and remarkable achievers from all aspects of life to be leaders for the world’s future.

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