To the uninitiated, meet TED. No, it’s not the foul-mouthed teddy bear. It’s a non-profit organization dedicated to “ideas worth spreading,” and the name stands for Technology, Education, Design. Since its humble beginnings in 1984, TED has emerged as a global network of individuals dedicated to spreading good ideas through open forum.
While the acronymic name may seem basic or bland, the depth and range of topics reach much further than you might think. They’re called “TED talks,” and they can range from song or spoken word poetry all the way to particle physics or zoology.
Consisting originally of its three pillars, TED has grown to hold business, arts, science, global issues, and even comedy as equally salient to their mission. Two annual TED conferences are held to gather the most innovative, forward-thinking, and ground-breaking people in the world; the TED Conference on the American West Coast each spring as well as TED Global in Edinburgh, Scotland each summer.
TED does not stop at two large conferences. A program called TEDx allows universities, non-profit groups to hold their own conferences. These ‘satellite’ TEDs can be held at universities, corporate headquarters, or even historical locations depending on the topic or focus of the event.
TEDIndia was held in 2009 to explore the booming future of South Asia. TEDWomen was held in 2010 in Washington, DC, in order to investigate and illuminate how women and girls are changing the world. TED@ events are used to expand on a single topic or to dissect a particular location.
Still trying to wrap your head around what TED is? These three videos will serve to illuminate the congregation’s style and format.
Out of MIT’s Media Lab, the Fluid Interfaces Group has developed something they call “Sixth Sense” technology under the leadership of Pattie Maes. Sixth sense refers to augmented reality, or a new way to interact with the real-world and the digital-world simultaneously. By combining a small camera, projector, and a smart phone into one powerful tool, science fiction is becoming science fact. In this talk, Maes demonstrates and discusses the exciting breakthroughs her team has made in the field.
What is the effect of bullying? Why do we alienate others? Poet Shane Koyczan explores the emotions and fears tied to bullying. After Koyczan briefly introduces himself and his life story, about how he has been both a bully and bullied in his life, he begins (at 6:27) his poem and viral-video sensation titled “To This Day.” Powerfully poignant, emotional, and extremely relevant to the human condition, Koyczan beats the drum for those that cannot (or will not) speak for themselves.
Johnny Lee shows how to turn a $40 Wii remote into a multi-tool that can be used to work the same as a $5,000 dollar infrared projector screen. Watch him turn a basic television into a 3D projection that tracks the wearer’s movements to create stunning illusions of dimension. His hope? To provide poorly funded schools with expensive (-acting) equipment that would be otherwise unobtainable. Genius.
From musicians to brain surgeons, aerospace engineers to poets, these “talks” engage and enliven even the most stagnant of minds. Feel bogged down, overwhelmed, or under-inspired? Take 45 minutes and surf TED.com. It’s a class worth paying attention to.
Written by Matthew Nason, a telecommunications student at Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania. He majors in Journalism and transferred here with honors from the Pennsylvania College of Technology. There he was Music Director and Assistant Manager of Operations for two years of WPTC Williamsport, 88.1 fm. He hopes to work in broadcast journalism.