TED Talks — and Wants you to Talk Back!

By Amanda Cosco 


I believe in love at first sight site. That is, if it’s possible to fall in love with a website. The first time I visited the TED website, I was in love with the concept: high-quality infotainment featuring world-class speakers—what more could I ask for from media?

Since then, my love affair with TED has grown. I’ve watched as TED has developed a variety of ambitious side projects, such as TEDx events and even TEd conferences. So you can only imagine how excited I was when I visited the TED site last week and discovered a new addition to the TED family: TED conversations!

TED conversations is a new tab added to the existing TED site:

As the webpage describes, TED conversations includes three subsections: Ideas, questions and debates.

TED conversations encourages community members to take part, offering users a platform to pose questions, debate issues, and get feedback on their ideas. To engage, users must create member profiles, a process that’s quick and painless (mine only took about five minutes).

With the addition of the “conversations” section, it’s now just as easy to produce TED content as it is to consume it, making TED more like YouTube and less like broadcast media. Transforming consumers into collaborators is a smart move on TED’s part, and hopefully, they’ll reach YouTube-like success within the years to come. I’d argue this was a smart move for TED, as it indicates that the organization grasps that the future of media shared, collective and collaborative rather than direct and one-way.

On the new TED conversations webpage, users can search conversations by keyword or topic. For example, I typed “social media” into the search bar, and found several conversations, including one posed by Katie Treggidan of London England. Katie asked “Is social media democratizing design, or just making it easier to steal ideas?” Christopher Beck of Orinda, California wants to know “What do you think Social Media 3.0 will look like?,” and Evgenia Baydikova, of Sydney, Australia asks “How can businesses manage their social media engagement?”

I’d say these are pretty important questions, especially given the impact of social media on our everyday lives. Each conversation has at least two commentators—not bad, for a brand new service!

What’s especially interesting to me is that these answers are coming from all over the world. For example, Lawerence Wang of Shanghai, China, posed a question about social media and its political implications, with specific reference to the Arab Springs. His conversation had 11 participants from all over the world, from Egypt,  to Terhan, to the United States, to Rome.

As a concerned citizen, you could use the TED conversations platform to draw attention to an issue that you feel is being overlooked in the mainstream media. As a professional journalist, you could use TED to tap into the burning questions of our collective culture. The point is that the possibilities are endless! Start by playing around on the conversations page by clicking here, and give us your feedback!

The TED brand stands for technology, innovation and design, and it’s nice to see the organization live up to its own name; the TED “conversations” initiative clearly indicates where we’re headed with media—and with ideas!