For me, ideas are what set humans ahead of other animals. Apart from motor control which enables humans to make and use tools, the enormous other gift of evolution is the expansion of the neo-cortex that carries out thinking and formulates ideas. Homo sapiens are only different because they have ideas. Most of the scholars would agree that free questioning and robust collection of ideas are necessary for scientific and academic advancement. Before and after the Renaissance, the centers of scientific excellence were those who collected, respected and spread ideas. Spreading an excellent idea is as important as perceiving it; rather more important. Any revolutionary idea cannot reach its zenith in total isolation. New ideas come from the old ones; in their rectification or annihilation. But the process of taking these steps is important. So here I find two lessons of human achievement: help ‘make’ and ‘share’ ideas.
When the 21st century started, we were witnessing a revolution in the way we think about sending and receiving information. The legendary advancements in the present century would not have been possible without this sharing of ideas; riding on the intelligent designs of communication systems and paths. Learning, education and research is all about creating and sharing ideas and so is the human achievement. TED is one of the many ways of realizing the dream sharing of ideas. Technology, Entertainment and Design (TED); a platform for “ideas worth spreading”.
Most of the readers would have seen TED talks on TED.com or YouTube. Some might be TED fans, following the TED talks online and TED blog to listen to fresh ideas. I think that surfing for TED videos online is a far better use of time, both for entertainment and learning then stalking random Facebook profiles, downloading for TV shows on Rapidshare and Googling for celebrities’ pictures. There is entertainment value to those three but somehow TED has captured a reasonable number of videos on internet. It is now a phenomenon. Toronto Globe and Mail puts it the best way:
“At around this time of year (March 19, 2009), it seems the Internet is 35 percent TEDTalks. TED is a funny phenomenon, though. On the one hand, getting the YouTube generation to sit down and watch lectures seems a counter-intuitive proposition. But there's something about these videos that seems to have captured the Web's shiny, aspiration spirit.”
In the same spirit and style, local and independent TED-like events (though under agreement from TED global) take place around the globe with the name TEDx. TEDxLahore is coming up on July 31, 2010. Their URL is www.tedxlahore.com. Their speakers list is most likely complete by now. If the world of TED intrigues you, here is something for you just around the corner of the street.
Here are some of my favorite TED videos:
1) Ken Robinson says schools kill creativity. Click here.
2) Isabel Allende tells tales of passion. Click here.
3) Brian Cox on CERN's supercollider. Click here.
4) Mitchell Joachim: Don't build your home, grow it! Click here.
5) Pranav Mistry: The Sixth Sense. Click here.