TED is coming to Edinburgh. Or rather, the Technology, Entertainment, Design conference.
With previous speakers at the idea-sharing event including Bill Gates, Hilary Clinton, Stephen Hawking, Alain de Botton and JK Rowling, for those lined up to speak at the Edinburgh event next week – Alex Salmond, Anthony Gormley, Ruby Wax and (in something of a comeback) Macy Gray among them – expectations have been set high.
The non-profit TED Talks, started in 1984 to bring together figures from the three worlds of technology, entertainment and design, are conferences devoted to “ideas worth spreading,” and their summer conference TEDGlobal is now held annually in Edinburgh.
Don’t bother reaching for the phone to book tickets though unless you are prepared to pay the £4,700 membership, which gives the right to attend the conferences (although not to ask questions). And when every TED Talk given at the conferences is uploaded to their YouTube channel, the outlay seems somewhat superfluous. The small number of attendees to the conferences is dwarfed by the 112 million views the online channel has received.
The events have not been without controversy. Speaker US comedian Sarah Silverman was criticised by TED organiser Chris Anderson for her talk on adopting a “retarded” child, who tweeted: “I know I shouldn’t say this about one of my own speakers, but I thought Sarah Silverman was god-awful”. Silverman responded via her own Twitter feed: “Kudos to [Chris Anderson] for making TED an unsafe haven for all! You’re a barnacle of mediocrity on Bill Gates’ a**hole.” The organisation has also been criticised as being elitist, given its high membership fees and selective invite policy, while author and academic Nassim Taleb called TED “a monstrosity that turns scientists and thinkers into low-level entertainers, like circus performers.”
TEDGlobal 2012 takes place 25-29 June at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre.
Top five notable TED Talks
Bill Gates on malaria
During Gates’ talk he introduced a swarm of uninfected mosquitoes into the auditorium so that attendees could experience life among the insects, as many in poverty do.
Al Gore on the environment
Gore’s TED talk became the basis for his award-winning documentary An Inconvenient Truth.
Richard Dawkins on ‘militant atheism’
Dawkins’ speech was later expanded upon in his controversial book The God Delusion.
Tony Robbins on ‘Why we do what we do’
Robbins’ is the most-viewed TED talk, with over 4 million views on YouTube
Sir Ken Robinson asking ‘Do schools kill creativity?’
Robinson, a former government education adviser, gave a talk on why schools are ‘educating people out of creativity’ that subsequently went viral
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Wednesday 22 May 2013
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