Sunday, October 10, 2010


this past weekend i was directed to the fact that the TED organization was offering the license to groups, schools, associations, etc to use there franchise/brand to TEDx or local symposiums. anyone/group can set-up a mini-symposium under the umbrella of the Ted brand. they claim that despite the fact that different event can be very sculpted to the particular community all of the TEDx events have certain things in common:

* TED's celebrated format: A suite of short, carefully prepared talks, demonstrations and performances on a wide range of subjects to foster learning, inspiration and wonder -- and to provoke conversations that matter
* TEDTalks videos: A minimum of two pre-recorded talks from the acclaimed TEDTalks video series will be shown (these talks are available free on
* Bias-free programming: Lack of any commercial, religious or political agenda 1

i am a huge fan of the TED programming. i have definitely been inspired by the speakers and presentations in the past. lately though, i have had a sneaking suspicion about the chatter about the altruism of the program. this spring i was dismayed with the way Sarah Silverman was treated by TED's self-titled curator Chris Anderson.

TED while full of great speakers with awesome world changing ideas and projects is also Anderson's ego project; how could he have not known what he was getting in the talents of Silverman. albeit Silverman's humor (a satire of ugliness and insult) is not everyone's idea of entertainment, but did Anderson really expect her to be on 'good behaivor' for the rich people who can afford to attend in person. it is actually more obscene to expect an artist to change their talent because the King has asked them to dinner. and Silverman reported that she was very hurt by the commentary because she was also a fan of the TED talks.

so this brings me back to the TEDx claim that it is "Bias-free programming: Lack of any commercial, religious or political agenda"... for reals?

the shame is that TEDx would be an awesome opportunity to frame a locally sourced, DIY, emergent symposium and have it benefit from the intellectual capital that has been built by the great thinkers of the TED series. i am so repulsed by the behavior of the curator to Silverman, that i just don't know if i can get on board. so i make a modest proposal:

i encourage those who have subjects which may be too tough for the mainstream to start using the TEDx brand. let's have a frank TEDx about Sado-Masochistic Sexual fetish, let's have a TEDx on Intelligent Design, let's have a TEDx on Anarchism, let's have a TEDx by the KKK...
and we will see if the TED management really believes in (and practices) the intellectual freedom they espouse or whether this is only for the politically retarded.

follow up 22:34 10/10/10
meer minutes after i sent this i found this blurb:

"TED does not grant licenses to those associated with controversial or extremist organizations. TEDx events may not be used to promote spiritual or religious beliefs, commercial products or political agendas. Hosts may not affiliate the TEDx or TED brand with other conferences, or with commercial endeavors."

sigh... i guess i got my answer: as long as it is ok with their political/moral views...

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