My Rant on TED

Don’t get me wrong here.While I do work in the social sciences (Knowledge Management), I am starting to wonder about the validity of groups or conferences such as TED. While there is a positive synergy that can come from these networking events, the exclusiveness and somewhat pompous ‘membership’ requirements as I see it drifts away from the idea of an ordinary person being a ‘hero’. If that was the case, why is there such an economic burden to the ‘ordinary’ person to participate.

Are the members of this group only there because they are not known of by many and feel they must pay ‘dues’ to be recognized by the world? Granted, there have been some that are well known but have been invited to participate. I have not seen people that are considered ‘ordinary’ or ‘common’ participate or even indirectly contribute to the effort.

A group of people slowly gather at the cocktail party and talk about world issues of every kind and how they see it, how technology can solve them, how entertainment can amuse them, and how designing the ultimate doohicky can package them. They are then ushered into a room with several large flat screen TV and a program starts. Many people are singularly presenting the woes of the world and solutions that call for the one world movement to occur. They applaud each other and pat each other on the back for a ‘job well done’. There is another cocktail party and they all go home. They go home and continue the same elitist patterns of espousing ideals to solve the world problems….Oddly, the problems remain, the elitists remain and things move along time. This is my view of TED (Technology, Entertainment, and Design) and what really never happens… true solutions that can be implemented to actually serve society not for society to serve as fodder to the elitists.

Oh, I forgot…for only $995 you ( and ten close friends )can become Associate Members of TED and get all sorts of goody bags full of dumpster stuffers that will be out of style the time the next TED conference comes together. And the ‘closed circuit’ access to the live ( you can’t touch the real gods and goddesses of world solutions, they might bleed and show they are only humans) conference some where in the campy part of the world far away from the problems that are to be solved.

So, What I propose is OPIS (Ordinary People Innovation Solutions). Using the Internet as the virtual meeting place to hold conferences on how the people involved would solve the problems. But this is absurd! Imagine people actually having ideas that can be implemented that not only solve the problems but to grow a sustainable community solution without government or outside elitist intervention.



2 responses to “My Rant on TED

  1. Hi, Tom Rielly here from TED Conferences. While I think I understand your point of view, I’d like to offer my take on a few of your comments.

    1. is free to everyone, everywhere in the world. The only membership requirements are that you navigate to the website and watch something. There is no economic burden for “ordinary” people to participate.

    2. You can also join as a free TED member, which is also open to everyone, and that lets you participate in the discussion groups on the website and be part of the online social network. This also carries no burden.

    3. It’s true we do produce live events and that they are expensive to attend and can be called “elitist.” Since we start posting the talks from the conference on our website soon after, everyone stands to benefit.

    We are conscious of the fact that the events are expensive and offer non-profit rates for NGOs and our TED Fellows program for outstanding leaders in every field of endeavor who participate as our guests.

    In addition, the expensive conferences help support, our Fellows, and the TED Prize winners.

    However, there are many ways in which Ordinary People are involved with Innovation Solutions, very much as the grass roots level. We have participants in the Open Translation project that subtitle TED in many languages for the benefit of others, people who volunteer to help make the TEDPrize wishes come true, active participants on the website, and people holding free do-it-yourself TEDx events all around the world. (You too could host one for free.)

    If you watch a good number of our talks on, you might detect a strong bias against top-down solutions and a huge belief in the power of bottoms up, community-based, grassroots, local, appropriate change making.

    Our gift bags aren’t quite as you describe. The welcome kit that comes with Associate Membership is 6 x 9 x 2 inches and made with recycled materials. The actually conference gift bags will be radically different in 2010 with no waste at all.

    Tom Rielly
    Community Director

    Finally, though the idea might appeal only to certain people, the notion of paying $995 to bring your friends together for 4 days of intense fellowship, ideas, and social interaction has been embraced and enjoyed by many of our Associate Members to date.

    • Hi Tom,
      Thanks for the reply…I’m just trying to get some responses on conferences like this and how the people feel about them as well. Thanks also for the link to the free resources.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s