I spent most of Tuesday soaking up the wonders of TED at TEDxGranta, right on my doorstep in Cambridge (UK). If you don’t know TED, think global ’social’ brand and large video archive of inspirational, thought provoking talks about stuff that matters by extraordinary people.
For the uninitiated, TED stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design. Strapline: ‘Ideas worth spreading’. And they truly are.
As a brand, TED seems to have grown on the back of invitation only events (in the US only initially) for people of note. For a long time I saw it as a bit of a Davos without the politics and with FAR more creativity and expression but I’m sure it is different things to different people. Whatever, TED just seems to keep on growing as more and more people discover the wealth of amazing online content is spawns. And now it’s adopted a local persona and come to Cambridge. Great news.
I will blog again about TEDxGranta (great day) specifically but in the meantime, I got thinking about how TED epitomises the ‘Social’ world we now inhabit. Whether the founders contrived it that way or not, it is Social with a capital ‘S’ for four main reasons:
- It’s social in the traditional meaning of the word: talks at the events themselves are short (no more than 18 mins with no Q & A) but breaks are long – lots of time to seek out speakers, chat and get to know people
- It’s easy and accessible: LOADS of TED videos (over 800 of the best) accessible to all, FREE
- It’s viral: you can pretty much guarantee that a talk in TED’s video archive will leave you in awe, deep in thought or prodded into action – and therefore compelled to share (the social networks are regularly buzzing with someone’s lists of favourite TED talks, themed or otherwise)
- It’s not for profit - no speaker fees and no cash benefit for the people who make it happen. Anyone who choses to deliver a ‘local TED’ does so (mostly) for love (and yes, for the kudos of being the one/s that took ownership of TED at a local level)
So did the founders plan it this way? My guess is they did. They are visionaries. But the really clever trick was to grow the brand on an event for the elite whilst making the content accessible and appealing to all, and then let the rest just happen. I can’t imagine they need to set aside any budget for PR. TED’s followers (the videos have IRO 290m viewers) tick that box for them. That’s what makes it truly Social.
TEDxGranta post to follow but for now, thank you to the team for being the brave and generous souls that took the bit between the teeth for those of us in Cambridge and the surrounding area. Yesterday gave me bucket fulls of food for thought.
In the meantime, I can’t (of course) blog about TED without sharing one of the talks from Tuesday’s programme. What this short (3 mins) video of Renny Gleeson talking about our ‘obligation to availability’ thanks to mobile technology. Funny but a serious underlying message.