For those out of the acronym loop, TED is a not-for-profit organistion that arranges lectures and conferences on Technology, Entertainment and Design, with the overarching aim of proliferating ‘ideas worth spreading’.
In the past they’ve had Sam Harris talking about science and morality, Julian Assange discussing the continuation of Wikileaks, Steven Pinker lecturing on the myth of violence, plus many other speakers talking on innumerable topics. (This has also included a talk by David Blaine entitled ‘How I held my breath for 17 minutes’ and Bono expatiating on aid in Africa, but you can’t win them all.)
With 625 speakers listed on their page, there’s enough material to sate even the most staunch procrastinator, and while some of the talks may seem a touch woolly and vague (see Richard Sears), many others discuss important things in an engaging and accessible way.
The video posted below, for example, which comes from Ethan Zuckerman—who, with his long hair, glasses and floral shirt, fulfils the computer-nerd stereotype in a very pleasing way—talks about the relatively closed nature of the internet in terms of cross-cultural communication. By using the internet in English, Zuckerman argues, and by then operating within social networking sites that work to restrict our interaction with other cultures or languages still further, a whole swathe of information about the world is lost to us.
Zuckerman’s project, Global Voices Online, which he co-founded with Rebecca MacKinnon, is looking to span this communication divide and bring about a more global internet. An internet that—with the help of cross-cultural experts, or ‘bridgers’, together with both machine and human translation—might be better at teaching us about the world we live in and the people who inhabit it.
Not really something I’d considered all that much before, and TED brought it to my attention … for free. Nice Teddy.