Why TED Talks Are So Cool

TED Balloon [Photo by Molinary] (CC BY-SA 3.0)

TED Talks Inspire

TED talks began back in 1984 as a conference to bring together innovators in the fields of technology, entertainment and design. Since then its scope has expanded to include two annual conferences in the US, a global conference and the award-winning TEDTalks video site, as well as the Open Translation Project and TED Conversations, TED Fellows and TEDx programs, along with an annual TED prize.

TEDx Vancouver 2009 - EA Sports - Burnaby, BC [Photo by TEDx Vancouver] (CC BY-SA 3.0)

The best of the TED talks and performances from TED and partners are made available to the world for free on TED.com. There are currently over 900 talks available, with new ones added each week. The overarching mission of TED is to spread great ideas. The power of ideas to change people’s attitudes, lives, and the world itself is what has made this organization so popular. TED has become a clearinghouse the offers free knowledge and inspiration from great thinkers, as well as a community of people who are open to engaging with these ideas and with each other.

Best of TED Talks

Many TED talks are about emerging technologies and their potential impact on society. Some memorable TED talks of recent years have featured controversial figures like Wikileaks’s Julian Assange, and subjects including the Large Hadron Collider, Wii remote hacks, a robot standup comedian, and many more. Julian Assange is the editor-in-chief for the whistle-blower site Wikileaks. He made a surprise appearance at the 2010 TED conference to discuss the aims of the site, how it operates and what it has accomplished.

Alden E. Habacon - TEDx Vancouver 2009 - EA Sports - Burnaby, BC [Photo by TEDx Vancouver] (CC BY-SA 3.0)

In another recent TED talk, MIT’a Pattie Maes showed off a wearable device called ‘Sixth Sense’, which allows the user to interact with digital information that is overlaid on the physical world. The idea of growing human organs in a lab was discussed in a 2007 TED talk by Anthony Atala, in which he introduced the gizmos that can make this fascinating innovation possible.

TED Talks Conference

The TED 2011 conference earlier this year featured more of the concise and profound TED talks that the organization is famous for providing. More than 60 speakers took the main stage to deliver talks that were simulcast in Palm Springs, California for an assembled audience of 600 people.

Cris Derksen - TEDx Vancouver 2009 - EA Sports - Burnaby, BC [Photo by TEDx Vancouver] (CC BY-SA 3.0)

The TED talks archives are only the tip of the iceberg for many true enthusiasts, who are happy to give up a week of their lives and invest several thousand dollars in order to watch the TED conference live on a video screen with a group of like-minded people. These people are able to experience talks they might have skipped over if they were just browsing through the TED library, and they are able to contribute to the live Twitter stream about the conference. The chance to debate what they’ve just heard with other audience members and to network offers much value as well.