Monday, August 6th, 2012

"TED is no longer a responsible curator of ideas 'worth spreading'"

Today TED is an insatiable kingpin of international meme laundering—a place where ideas, regardless of their quality, go to seek celebrity, to live in the form of videos, tweets, and now e-books. In the world of TED—or, to use their argot, in the TED “ecosystem”—books become talks, talks become memes, memes become projects, projects become talks, talks become books—and so it goes ad infinitum in the sizzling Stakhanovite cycle of memetics, until any shade of depth or nuance disappears into the virtual void. Richard Dawkins, the father of memetics, should be very proud. Perhaps he can explain how “ideas worth spreading” become “ideas no footnotes can support.

Evgeny Morozov on three TED books: "anyone who is seriously considering reading Hybrid Reality or Smile should also entertain the option of playing Angry Birds or Fruit Ninja."

11 Comments / Post A Comment

KenWheaton (#401)

Could we get Morozov and The Atlantic's B.R. Myers in the same room at the same time? That would be epic.

@KenWheaton long story but B.R.Myers and me actually WERE in the same room – nay, sat next to each other at dinner – at an event in Seoul last September… ;-)

cory dodt@twitter (#12,071)

Man, it's terrible how they put all those ideas out there for us to consider.

joeks (#5,805)

@cory dodt@twitter You could say the same about Matt Taibbi's various eviscerations of Thomas Friedman's horseshit. Except, his writing is indeed horseshit and deserves ridicule. That's pretty much what's going on here, too.

barnhouse (#1,326)

@cory dodt@twitter What's terrible is how they don't.

joshc (#442)

at last, the backlash era crashes into TED.

keisertroll (#1,117)

@joshc That's what happens when they find out it's named after a foul-mouthed stuffed animal.

carpetblogger (#306)

I heart this so much.

Danzig! (#5,318)

Why attend TED lectures when Nick Kristof's NYT column feeds my white savior complex in the same way for far less money?

Multiphasic (#411)

In TED world, problems of aid and development are no longer seen as problems of weak and corrupt institutions; they are recast as problems of inadequate connectivity or an insufficiency of gadgets.

This is a deeper epistemological issue at the moment than merely a reflection of TED. I spent some time in grad school plowing along with the mHealth crowd, and rather than exploring the nature of the interaction between health, media, and mobile technology, everyone was putting together a business plan. It was Y Combinator, only with the added obfuscatory weapon of cherry-picked MLRs.

There is no question the cult of entrepreneurship has created this torrent of divergence away from understanding problems and towards throwing whizbangs at them. It's like a trite episode of Star Trek.

MNancy (#241,062)

I have always loved the materials that TED provided and I found them to be very inspirational. I have found many good books from them and I consider them one of the best in their business. I found it odd that the delivery of educational materials are getting harder and harder to find. We need to take a close look at this and revise our strategy before it is too late.

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