TED? Everyone Knows About TED—Don’t They?

I was at a friends place today. I tend to go and visit there every Saturday. As usual in the time I was there we discussed probably a hundred different little topics covering many aspects of computers, family, living, life, and—naturally—the weather.

At one point we discussed how random life is and how fractal like it is, and I mentioned that—as it happens—I had just watched a session on TED the night before about fractals.

My friend asked what TED was.

It is funny how we tend to assume people know certain ‘basic’ stuff because, well, doesn’t everyone who spends a lot of time on the Web know it? And I assumed that my friend, who has been involved in computers and computing and the Internet/Web for some many years, knew of TED. But he didn’t.

Like almost any Web site that has a three letter domain name (all the three letter domain names got taken up very early in the life of the Internet/Web) TED has been around for a long time; at least since about 1995 when I discovered it. I understand that TED actually stands for “Technology, Entertainment, and Design” (but I could be wrong about this) and it is a conference that is held once a year in both Europe and the USA.

Interesting people with interesting things to say are invited along to speak and present at the conference. Attendees pay big bucks to go along and hear what is being said. The ‘winning’ speaker each year is awarded a sum of money ($100,000 I think) for them to put towards whatever their current pet project is.

The TED Web site also goes to the trouble of obtaining copyright for and posting up videos of other “ideas worth spreading” (their catch-phrase).

Following is the home page of TED as it was when I crafted this post. Use Ctrl+Click on the image to open the TED web site in a new tab.


The mini-images on the front page of TED show the newest video releases available at TED, and the size of each image indicates how popular the corresponding videos have been so far. Notice that at the time I took this screen grab from the site the video on fractals was still on the front page (it is on the right-hand side and features Benoit Mandelbrot).

There are two types of videos at TED. Firstly there are videos of presentations actually given at the TED conferences. These presentations are capped at 18 minutes. Then there are video of talks or presentations outside of the TED conferences. These videos can go for more than 18 minutes.


If you are interested and think you might watch one of the videos then a good one to start with would be Steve Jobs’ “commencement” speech to students at Stanford University. This speech is captioned “How to live before you die” and is here [Use Ctrl+Click to open in a new Tab].