What is wrong with TED talks?

Do you like TED talks?

Some address issues relevant to the Core, including literature, art, theater, music, education, and choice of curriculum. Many of the talks can be informative and inspiring.

However, Benjamin Bratton, a theorist in philosophy, art and design, raises an important point in his TED talk, titled What’s Wrong With TED Talks?

He tackles what TED really is, discusses its focus on innovation, and offers valid criticisms of TED’s approach towards technology, entertainment and design. Here is an excerpt from the video linked above:

The key rhetorical device for TED talks is a combination of epiphany and personal testimony (an “epiphimony” if you like ) through which the speaker shares a personal journey of insight and realization, its triumphs and tribulations.

What is it that the TED audience hopes to get from this? A vicarious insight, a fleeting moment of wonder, an inkling that maybe it’s all going to work out after all? A spiritual buzz?

I’m sorry but this fails to meet the challenges that we are supposedly here to confront. These are  complicated and difficult and are not given to tidy just-so solutions. They don’t care about anyone’s experience of optimism. Given the stakes, making our best and brightest waste their time –and the audience’s time— dancing like infomercial hosts is too high a price. It is cynical.

Also, it just doesn’t work.

For more information, visit Benjamin Bratton’s own website.

For a humorous take on the TED talks, be sure to watch some Onion Talks!

Post a Comment

Your email address is never shared. Required fields are marked *