Reality is Really Changing
From The New Yorker to The New Inquiry is a wealth—and chasm—of coverage about the for-profit phenomenon we know as TED. TED has built itself as a marketplace of deep ideas, delivered by an aspiring [just about anything] with the crystal-eyed positivity and mannered speaking patterns of a cult leader. It can be truly inspiring.
Sometimes after watching TED talks, however, I feel the kind of cynical hangover, that deep distrust of unhinged optimism, that can result in numerous pitch meetings with aspiring social entrepreneurs and startup junkies. These meetings boil down to a business plan like “things must change, we will change them.” Often, there is an addiction to the ‘change’ and not the result nor the space in which said change is occurring. Youth and energy and momentum are praised above results, processes and outcomes.
The New Republic article serves as a jugular-level take down of power futurist couple Ayesha Khanna and Parag Khanna (pictured above), but really cuts at the heart of what happened to the series after years of tightly-edited wide angles, repeated hand gestures, morality-stuffed stories, and the tilted-head-to-the-horizon-effects for applause with talk after talk.
Today TED is an insatiable kingpin of international meme laundering—a place where ideas, regardless of their quality, go to seek celebrity, to live in the form of videos, tweets, and now e-books. In the world of TED—or, to use their argot, in the TED “ecosystem”—books become talks, talks become memes, memes become projects, projects become talks, talks become books—and so it goes ad infinitum in the sizzling Stakhanovite cycle of memetics, until any shade of depth or nuance disappears into the virtual void. Richard Dawkins, the father of memetics, should be very proud. Perhaps he can explain how “ideas worth spreading” become “ideas no footnotes can support.” source
What do you think?