Stephen Downes is not enamored by the TED machine:
TED has certainly figured out how to monetize learning – and Alan Levine notwithstanding a big part of that, I would say, lies in offering opinions and talks that are safe for business people offered by speakers who are TV-pretty, speaking the language of the empowered, addressing first-world problems.
I am highly doubtful I will evert pay the $6000 to cross the velvet ropes to attend a TED event, but I also am not quite as confident I can judge fully the intent of the people behind it. The selection of a link Stephen’s on the word “language” is I am not sure more than a cheap shot. But I shoot ’em cheap all the time. Sure they are making money, but in the TEDTalks they are also providing a lot of content, in re-usable form, for free. Stephen would say it is part of their campaign to monetize. But we do live in a capitalistic society and I do not begrudge someone’s efforts to make money.
My point is that if we weren’t dazzled by things like TED, we’d see the message, in its more pure non-homogenized non-secularized form, all around us.
Are we mind controlled? What is this dazzlement that videos do that blind us? Seriously?
Bottom line, I am not buying into the TED business model, but I will take advantage of what is there. If they sell their stuff to some folks to enable the continued providing of free content, is that so horrific? Seems to be favor of freemium approaches.
Stephen suggests it is a massaged, measured. polished version of what is out there in other forms. I do not discount there are plenty of places on the internet to find “ideas worth spreading”.
But I did look at al of the suggestions Stephen suggested, and whilst they all talk about the notion of regret in some manner (a few of them are in context of larger messages), I did not find one that hit me on an emotions, personal level like the talk by Kathyrn Schulz I blogged about. All of his resources were third person objectified, and hers was done in the storytelling form I find compelling. I take these videos as not the endpoint, but the beginning point to explore farther.
Yes, you can look at her story of a tattoo as a “first world problem” but that was just the metaphor for her message. And frankly, it was done in a more impactful way than any of the readings Stephen provided, which is not to say they were not of value (especially Rabbi Michael’s piece about Kol Nidre).
The unanswerable question is- are these talks genuine or some part of a manipulative doping campaign? I have no idea how anyone can really determine this beyond supposition. Is the message the message, is the medium the message, or is the messenger the message? Yes, the source of our information is important to consider, but is it also correct to dismiss it out of hand? I have trouble with that.
I got a lot out of attending a local TEDx in Phoenix a few years back – am I some sort of hypnotized drone? The people I saw in Phoenix were not from Stepford County.
Frankly, I am open to ideas no matter where they come from, and I have another post that launches from ideas I saw in other TED videos. I am in no ways a TED fan boy, I just like some of the talks I have found there and it generates new ideas for me.
I expect a rebuttal in a few minutes. I’m braced.