TED (standing for Technology, Entertainment and Design) is a nonprofit aimed at spreading ideas through medium of short, punchy talks. TEDx are independent but affiliated events inspired by TED, which are put on locally with the same spirit, format and mission.
The 12 live talks and 4 videos were all loosely based on the topics of ‘building bridges’. A well-chosen theme, it opened the door to a wide range of subjects while still giving something to connect them all together. Talks ranged from international development and charity work right through to Ghanaian food and personalised medicine.
TEDx Oxford captured the spirit of official TED events perfectly. The speakers were inspiring, upbeat, unrelentingly hopeful. They all sought to imagine a better future and the outlook was firmly left and liberal. Being honest with myself, the event was an opportunity for the liberal elite (such as myself) to spend a day feeling good about how the inspiring ideas of mostly white, wealthy middle class people are trying to change the world for the better.
Each speaker was an impressive individual in their own right and everyone talked with passion about their topic. That said, Simon Lancaster stood out for me as perhaps one of the most interesting and impressive talks. Speaking on the subject of how metaphors can both lead and mislead,
Running from 10:30 to 5:30 the event does provide excellent value for money and would be a great thing to base a Sunday’s entertainment around. That said, though individually interesting, listening to inspiring talks one after the other was a little tiring, and I found myself getting somewhat restless before break times. I really wanted to think about and discuss the ideas that had just been shared, but no sooner had the applause died down did a new speaker, with a new set of ideas, come out. Perhaps I would have done better to go to the talks I was most interested in, and then sneak out for a coffee to talk them through with friends in between.
Finally, perhaps the most trying thing for me in getting through all the talks was the ‘TED tone’. Almost every speaker (save
In the end, TEDx Oxford was a very good example of TED doing what TED does. Interesting and engaging for sure, yet also overly idealistic and perhaps a little self-satisfied. I certainly look forward to coming back next year, but perhaps I won’t make myself sit through each and every talk.