June Cohen’s Web 2.0 Expo talk — Ideas Worth Spreading: TED’s Transition from Conference to Platform — just ended and it was so incredible I have to immediately commit these thoughts to a post.
TED has realized its incredible value not only as a conference but as a platform. Largely through capturing videos of their incredible sessions and then making them available worldwide for free viewing afterwards, they’ve been able to harness the power of an amazing viral spread of enthusiasm.
Cohen used the example of Hans Rosling’s incredible talk jettisoning him into unlikely-internet-stardom, so from a content standpoint TED has a goldmine — and they want to share it. This is where the technological and philosophical elements come in.
Technologically, they facilitate this worldwide viral spread in part by making sure the videos are subtitled into multiple languages. Not only are the videos subtitled, but the full transcripts are available. One excellent feature Cohen pointed out was that you can click a word in the transcript and the video automatically scrolls to that point.
And if technology and awesome content weren’t enough, TED is pursuing a fully open philosophy. “In pursuing the strategies of openness, all of the unintended consequences have been explosively positive,” says Cohen, while announcing TED Open TV Project — a network of partners that can use TED talks for free and build broadcasts around them. The bottom line for TED? “TED has evolved from a conference to a media company to a platform for spreading ideas.”
Definitely staying tuned to — and rewatching — this one.