*edit, March 23, 2014 – I added the TED Snowden video further down. Let’s see how long it stays up.
*edit, January 29, 2015 – I just want to add that Common Dreams experiences serious cyber attacks and other attacks and has been experiencing them for years. That could have had something to do with the strange, empty, entry about Edward Snowden’s TED talk that I look at in this post. I just don’t know.
Notice something? “There’s nothing to notice,” you say. Correct.
Common Dreams carried an article about Edward Snowden’s remarkable TED talk, which he gave long distance via a motorized avatar that allowed him to see his audience and move about to change his angle of viewing, so as to face his host or the audience. And everyone could see Edward on the screen that was the robot-like avatar’s ‘head’. Then the article disappeared leaving only the frame, as a placeholder, where it was.
Was it TED (which stands for technology, entertainment and design) who yanked this? I see a link to TED left behind. The article is gone, leaving nothing, such as comments like mine (see below), on the Common Dreams website to suggest that there’s anything negative about TED, which doesn’t change the fact that some of us are not fans, Snowden’s participation notwithstanding. Did the NSA or some government lawyer warn Common Dreams away from carrying the remarkable Edward Snowden interview TED gave him, forcing CD to remove it? Readers: This is quite chilling. And I hope you appreciate the seriousness of it. If I had to guess, I’d say that it was police state crap rather than TED (directly).
Debunking a few TED myths
TED Talks first appeared online in 2006, and within a few years were somehow ubiquitous. As we’ve (as much to our surprise as anyone’s) become part of pop culture, it’s natural that people speculate on who the heck we are, and what we believe, and why we’re even doing this. And sometimes … people speculate incorrectly. Here, a few things you might have heard. Thanks for listening.
TED is elitist
In one sense, this is true — we curate our speaker list and our TED Talks lineup very carefully. And we “curate” our audience at conferences to make sure we have a balanced, diverse group that can support our mission of bringing great ideas to the world for free.
But we also work hard not to be elitist in ways that matter. We actively seek out ideas from all over the world, in multiple languages. We work to diversify both our lineup and our attendee roster, devoting time and budget to seeking out and supporting attendees who couldn’t afford to come on their own, but who’ll be great contributors. We also devote significant time and money to bringing TED Talks to people who lack access to broadband or have other accessibility issues. We hope the proof of the pudding is that our talks are available for free to anyone in the world.
TED is biased
Not every talk given at a TED conference or a TEDx event makes it to the front page of TED.com. Some speakers have suggested that their live talks didn’t become TED Talks because of a bias against their political stance. TED is nonpartisan, and we do our best to post talks that will contribute to a productive conversation. TED is not a place for partisan slams and one-sided arguments (unless followed directly by an argument from the other side and a debate).
TED bans discussion of GMOs and food
In 2013, another website created this meme in order to draw page views (and sell vitamin supplements). The story went viral because it seemed simply too awful to believe. And indeed it was not true. TED does not ban discussion of GMOs and food. Our formal response includes a long list of TED Talks about food, GMOs, food science and the sustainability and health of our food supply.
TED is full of pseudoscience
As the global TEDx movement grows, some local events have been targeted by speakers who make unsupported claims about science and health — from perpetual motion to psychic healing. TEDx’s science guidelines clearly state that science and health information shared from stage must be supported by peer-reviewed research. If you have concerns about the content of a TEDx talk, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know.
TED bans [any topic]
TED has no formal bans on any topic. If you notice we have not covered a topic of interest to you, please suggest a speaker who can do it justice, and feel free to let us know we’ve been missing out! We are always looking for new ideas, topics and speakers.
TED is rich
TED is owned by a nonprofit. Our North American conference itself makes money, as do partnerships with companies and foundations — but we spend it as soon as we get it, supporting big, expensive projects like making TED Talks available for free, and supporting the independent TEDx community around the world. We pay fair salaries to our workers and we pay our interns. No one at TED HQ is getting rich; every dime we make goes right back into supporting our work.
Here’s some screen captures, in 3 parts (final part at 67%), of the Common Dreams article re Edward Snowden and his TED talk. You’ll see nothing. CD is letting us in on its disappeared post here. I’m not the only one whose views are not appreciated within the corporatocracy which doesn’t hesitate to take undemocratic actions to make it clear to us that we need to shut up.
There are two types of definition. One is the dictionary definition for a word or term. The other is the operational definition of a word or term. The operational definition is simply the actual activity or situation that attaches to the word or term you’re looking at.
Another view of TED, from Alex Pareene (“Why TED Is a Massive, Money-Soaked Orgy of Self-Congratulatory Futurism” – Alternet), follows. This is an excerpt:
“In case you’re unfamiliar with TED, it is a series of short lectures on a variety of subjects that stream on the Internet, for free. That’s it, really, or at least that is all that TED is to most of the people who have even heard of it. For an elite few, though, TED is something more: a lifestyle, an ethos, a bunch of overpriced networking events featuring live entertainment from smart and occasionally famous people.
“Before streaming video, TED was a conference — it is not named for a person, but stands for “technology, entertainment and design” — organized by celebrated “information architect” (fancy graphic designer) Richard Saul Wurman. Wurman sold the conference, in 2002, to a nonprofit foundation started and run by former publisher and longtime do-gooder Chris Anderson (not the Chris Anderson of Wired). Anderson grew TED from a woolly conference for rich Silicon Valley millionaire nerds to a giant global brand. It has since become a much more exclusive, expensive elite networking experience with a much more prominent public face — the little streaming videos of lectures.
“It’s even franchising — “TEDx” events are licensed third-party TED-style conferences largely unaffiliated with TED proper — and while TED is run by a nonprofit, it brings in a tremendous amount of money from its members and corporate sponsorships. At this point TED is a massive, money-soaked orgy of self-congratulatory futurism, with multiple events worldwide, awards and grants to TED-certified high achievers, and a list of speakers that would cost a fortune if they didn’t agree to do it for free out of public-spiritedness.”