TED says ‘an idea worth spreading’

I encountered TED last year when my colleague Ali suggested: ‘Hey, check out how the octopus camouflages in this video on TED. Pretty cool!’ It was jaw-droppingly cool. In this video, David Gallo shows footage of sea creatures camouflaging themselves in spectacular ways, shifting colours and radiating neon lights in the blackest depths of the ocean. It was my first encounter with the marvellous source of knowledge and inspiration that goes under the name of TED. So, I thought it was worth sharing this discovery with those of you who are still not in love with it because, as the TED motto says, these are ‘ideas worth spreading.’

To give you a bit of background, TED (technology, entertainment, design) is a non-profit academic organisation that hosts an invitation-only conference once a year for four days, devoted to ‘leveraging the power of ideas to change the world.’ The lectures, originally based in Monterey, California, and known as ‘TED Talks’, focus on technology, entertainment, design, business and science. The speakers, who each have an 18 minute time slot, have included some of the world’s most inspired thinkers and doers such as the physicist Stephen Hawking, former vice president of the U.S. Al Gore, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, musician Peter Gabriel, and Google co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page. The list continues and there are more than 450 lectures available for free viewing on the TED website.

The website itself is pure and intelligent visual beauty to my designer eyes. The information and content are impeccably organised, and accessible through a clean and rational navigation. The video previews on the home page are arranged in a hierarchal way, enabling the user to filter them by category. Everything on TED seems to be put together with the aim of increasing the viewer’s comfort so that they can fully enjoy the fascinating content. I believe that its accessibility and ease of use is most attractive aspect of this website and I’m not the only one who’s impressed: these videos have recently led the TED website to win the Webby Award for Best Use of Video or Moving Image.

I’m convinced you’ll share my view after watching Ken Robinson speaking about how schools kill creativity and explaining why we desperately need an education system that nurtures (rather than undermines) creativity. You might also be inspired by listening to Elizabeth Gilbert talk about nurturing creativity. Recently, I found myself captivated by the distinctive and personal way Jill Bolte Taylor talks about the human brain and perception in ‘Stroke of insight’. So, no matter what you’re into or your level of education, TED reaches and connects people, enabling us all to enjoy and share knowledge.

TED people ‘believe passionately in the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and ultimately, the world; building a clearinghouse that offers free knowledge and inspiration.’ I think there’s a good moral here which we can adopt – our society has been too focused on retaining and withholding knowledge in the past for personal and selfish uses. It’s now time to change to a more open and constructive approach. We’ve achieved a lot during the last century but have also compromised much with our selfishness and narrow-mindedness. From my point of view, spreading knowledge and working together is worthwhile, especially in these difficult days of economic recovery and the global challenges we all face. So, if you aren’t one of the 15 million people who have already viewed and enjoyed TED, I recommend that you give it a go and if you have any ideas to share, don’t forget that here at the Spicy Learning Blog we want to hear from you!