It’s recently come to my attention that not everyone knows what TED.com is. And that’s a shame, because not only should everyone know what it is, everyone should watch it obsessively.
TED is an annual conference where the foremost thinkers in every imaginable subject–physicists, poets, writers, musicians, philosophers, politicians, comedians, and even parrots–assemble to deliver 20-minute lectures on their fields of expertise.
TED.com is what happened about a year or so ago, I think, when they decided to start releasing videos of all of those lectures (and musical performances, and poetry readings, and so on) online. It may also be the world’s greatest classroom.
I subscribed to the podcast a little while, and since then I’ve been getting more and more addicted to these talks. To me, TED, even more so than Wikipedia, represents one of the best things about the Internet: the democratization of learning. It’s the world’s greatest classroom: a way of allowing absolutely brilliant minds to present their ideas to anyone who cares to listen in concise, entertaining passages. The reverence and enthusiasm for the power of the human mind that the people who set this up must have is inspiring.
A good idea is one of the best things in the world, and learning something new and interesting is one of the world’s greatest pleasures. TED.com is a mainline to the good stuff.
Now here’s John Hodgman’s lecture at TED. It’s not as educational as some of them, and it won’t alter the way you perceive the universe, but it showcases something else that really caught me by surprise when I first saw it: TED Talks can frequently be hilarious, and occasionally, even a little moving.
Subscribe to the YouTube channel. Subscribe to the RSS feed. To the podcast, the Twitter account, the Facebook group. Just watch as many of these as you can. Because ideas are fucking awesome.