Recently I came across a Website that really changed the way I look at my profession. For that matter, it really transformed my perception about the nature of different professions and how they are in fact related to one another, no matter how diverse. But before I go into the details of the website, a little background about what the web-site is promoting.
TED or technology Entertainment Design started as a conference, held in Long Beach, California way back in 1984, which brought together people from the fields of, well you guessed it, technology entertainment and design. At the face of it this combination seems odd. But this odd mix of people sharing their own stories about their work and their experiences snowballed and today the conference, which is an annual affair is sold out a year in advance, has speakers from many other backgrounds and has inspired millions.
The premise for the conference is simple. Innovators, leaders, experts from each field share their ideas. These ‘stories’ are aimed at not any specific audience or a privileged few, but at all of us, you, me, and everybody. At the core of TED is the belief that an idea can come anywhere at any time and from anyone. Also that idea can spread at the speed of light and has the potential to move mountains. The TED conference is a medium for those who wish to share their ideas with the world in an effort to improve society as a whole.
The TED philosophy –
- An idea can be created out of nothing except an inspired imagination.
- An idea weighs nothing.
- It can be transferred across the world at the speed of light for virtually zero cost.
- And yet an idea, when received by a prepared mind, can have extraordinary impact.
- It can reshape that mind’s view of the world.
- It can dramatically alter the behavior of the mind’s owner.
- It can cause the mind to pass on the idea to others.
Many of the ideas are in the form of stories or anecdotes. Speakers come from different walks of life. To give you an idea of the range of topics, here is a list of recent speakers at the TED conferences held in the last few years:
- Eve Ensler -Creator of the Vagina Monologues
- Peter Diamandis – Runs the X-Prize foundation
- Abhay Deol – Bollywood Actor/Producer
- Bill Clinton – Former US President
- Jane Goodall – Renowned anthropologist
- Nandan Nilekani – Founding member, Infosys
- Al Gore – Former US Vice President, Nobel Laurette
- Bono – Singer, Activist
- JJ Abrams – Hollywood Producer/Director
It is quite apparent that the spectrum of speakers at the TED conferences is pretty colossal. But these are just a few of the speakers that have contributed in the last two and a half decades of TED.And each speaker brings to the floor his or her unique story.
The beauty of TED lies in its simple format. Over a course of 4 days, 50 Speakers get a fixed time slot of 18 minutes each to share their stories. The stories range from the hilarious to the inspirational. But each story is enriching in its own way.
TED is now a global phenomenon, not restricted to the conferences at Long Beach, California. In fact, the latest TED conference is being held right here in India at the Mysore Campus of Infosys and is playing host to many national and international personalities.
This brings me to the website that I mentioned earlier. In an effort to ensure that the stories/ideas of the many speakers don’t get lost in the annals of time, TED launched TED.com, a ‘clearinghouse’ of knowledge, where ordinary people like you and I can view the inspirational videos of the speakers from past TED conferences.
I am sure that most of you watch some of the many many inane (albeit funny) viral videos that are ubiquitous on the net. Every other day someone is posting a link to some funny or ”Awesome’ video file on YouTube or the likes. While these videos are a great stress-buster, they’re more likely to be forgotten or have little value-addition to our lives or to the society as a whole.
On the other hand watching a video of any of the speakers from past TED conferences on TED.com is an enriching experience. Not only does it introduce us to new stories of people from across the globe and across industries, but also provides a new perspective on many global and local issues. Do yourself a favor, watch at least one TED video in a day (it takes not more than 20 minutes). I guarantee, within a week, you will start looking at the world in a new light.
You can go to the TED website and start viewing these videos instantly. Or you could fill out a simple registration form and become part of the TED community. Advantages of being part of the Community include being able to interact with other TED community members, mark you favorite TED videos and themes, share your idea with others and much more.
To get a taste of what TED is all about, view the video below:
But why? Why go into all this trouble of getting people from disparate backgrounds to come and speak about random topics and experiences?
Well each experience, each story, each idea is random in isolation. But when you rise above the boundaries of individual backgrounds, these ideas are connected. Every idea is the result of someone’s imagination. That someone may be limited in his or her thought process and may not see the impact or the reach of his/her idea. But when you throw your idea out their in the open, it starts taking a life of its own, it starts breathing, it grows and it germinates many more ideas. No matter how different our professional and personal backgrounds may be, we are still connected as a human race and hence so are our problems and as a consequence the solutions to those problems. The TED conference, in my view, is a wonderful testament to that notion and thus is great legacy that we can leave for future generations to carry on.