SAN DIEGO — TED talks have billed themselves as “ideas worth spreading,” but one TED speaker, a professor at UCSD, says it is time for TED to pipe down.
TED talks are highly condensed presentations by top scientists, thinkers and artists that have brought unknown authors worldwide attention and praise in just 18 minutes, but UCSD Prof. Benjamin Bratton used his presentation at a recent San Diego TED X conference to rebel against the formula.
“So my TED talk is not about my work or my new book – the usual spiel – but about TED itself, what it is and why it doesn’t work,” Bratton said during his TED X talk. “Given the stakes, having our best and brightest waste their time and the audience’s time dancing about like infomercial hosts is too high a price.”
“The first reason is over-simplification,” Bratton went on to say. “TED of course stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design, and I’ll talk a bit about all three. But I think TED actually stands for: middlebrow mega church infotainment.”
Bratton said he believes the hype created by TED talks drowns out discourse, discussion and ultimately ideas that can find solutions to problems.
“TED is flat. TED flattens this down to a very specific, redundant, manipulative, predictable, formulaic kind of muck thought,” Bratton told Fox 5.
TED’s motto has always been “ideas worth spreading,” but Bratton says it’s time for TED to keep quiet for awhile.
“Keep calm and carry on innovating … is that the real message of TED? To me that’s not inspirational, it’s cynical,” Bratton said. “In the US the right wing has certain media channels that allow it to bracket reality. Other constituencies have TED. ”
Bratton praised TED X in San Diego for being open enough to invite him to share his contrarian views about the organization and its talk format.