Since 1984, TED (Technology Entertainment Design) conferences have been inspiring listeners with head-scratching ideas on technology, science, politics and finance. It’s hard to think of this modern phenomena dating back that long – one which has seen Stephen Hawking, Bono, Bill Gates, Al Gore and many other ‘importants’ addressing a crowd for twenty minutes. In this era of throwaway YouTube videos and under-nourishing soundbites, it’s nice to think that there is still an audience for boundary-pushing ideas.
And what an audience TED now have! According to a recent BBC article, this non-profit learning workshop has “two million Facebook likes and an online community of 120,000 members.” In the aforementioned article there was also a tone of dissention about TED – the idea that it was an elitist, middle class, Californian tech-loving conceit. And it is. So what? It’s a great medium in this age of dumb-down democratized information, and like that other bastion of left coast learning, The New Yorker magazine, it’s a constant revelation to be inspired by areas outside one’s own parochial orbit. TED has a way of making a field as ostensibly dreary as the gaming industry, come to life.
The backbone of successful businesses or projects (of any kind) is the successful realization of interesting ideas. Even if you are making buttons for blouses, new ways to move the brand, or idea of the company forward, are part and parcel of growth and survival. Nothing creative exists in a vacuum; nothing survives in a marketplace that is stagnant – the world is too big and connected to assume you are the only one making what you make. It’s with this spirit of connectivity that TED should be celebrated. Watch your colleagues online, or go to their expensive in-person forums and soak up a unique opportunity to be inspired; TED is growing and it’s a very positive outlet in an otherwise sea of inconsequential information.