Review: TED Talks


Many of us have already heard of TED. More than a few of us have watched at least one TED Talk. So when I say that this post will be a site review, what I really mean is that it will be a program review, or even a movement review.

The History

TED was founded in 1984 (take that, Big Brother) by Richard Saul Wurman. He saw a growing convergence between the subjects of Technology, Entertainment, and Design. Yes, believe it or not, TED was not founded by a guy named Ted. The first TED conference had events like a demonstration of the then up-and-coming compact disk technology, and a showing of new 3-D graphics from Lucasfilm.

In 1990, TED was able to establish an annual conference in Monterey, CA (an awesome city, by the way). But the real progress began when they posted 6 videos from that conference online, in 2006. Within only FOUR MONTHS, the videos had reached over 1 million views (remember, this was the time before things could go viral in moments). It was then that the folks of TED realized that they had something amazing in their hands.

The Website

Now, TED's website has over 2400 talks in an INSANE amount of subjects. Their top-viewed video, by Ken Robinson, has over 46 million views. Just going to the site in preparation for this post, I fell down the rabbit hole and spent a couple of hours watching talks like Salman Khan (of Khan Academy), and Reshma Saujani (of Girls Who Code). These talks are not just chances for business owners to promote their company. In fact, it's the opposite: most of the speakers barely reference their company. Instead, they speak about their giant ideas and their experiences in the world.

There are a few options to choose from when you visit the site, and any one of them in great, depending on your reason for visiting. If you want to learn a certain subject, visit the "Discover" tab, in the top menu. From there, you're taken to a list of subjects with everything from Activism to Youth. Once you choose your subject, you're presented with several curated playlists that last from only an hour to more time than you have to spend in a day!

Another option is to visit TED's blog. There, you can catch up on what is happening right now in the world of TED. For instance, there's a video of Elon Musk's talk on his latest projects that I am absolutely going to be watching when I finish writing this.

The last option is to go to the master list of videos, which you'll find on the home page. You can sort it by newest, most views, duration, and all kinds of other things. There's even a "Surprise Me" button in the drop-down menu for "Watch". Bad for Google (here's looking at you, "I'm Feeling Lucky"), but great for the inspirational talk you might never have seen otherwise.