Anya Kamenetz postulates that TED is successful as an ideas conference because of its openness and how it makes people feel like they are part of a special club. About once a month, it feels like I’m linking and sharing another TED Talk, but I almost always have them on in the background when working.
TED works for me, because it’s intelligent, unexpected and almost always interesting. I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s a modern university, but as knowledge disseminating classes, they are pretty top notch.
“Still, if you were starting a top university today, what would it look like? You would start by gathering the very best minds from around the world, from every discipline. Since we’re living in an age of abundant, not scarce, information, you’d curate the lectures carefully, with a focus on the new and original, rather than offer a course on every possible topic,” Kamenetz writes. “You’d create a sustainable economic model by focusing on technological rather than physical infrastructure, and by getting people of means to pay for a specialized experience. You’d also construct a robust network so people could access resources whenever and from wherever they like, and you’d give them the tools to collaborate beyond the lecture hall. Why not fulfill the university’s millennium-old mission by sharing ideas as freely and as widely as possible?”
And the only reason I argue it’s not university is because there is no interaction between teacher and student. If Chris Anderson, who bought TED in 2001, can figure that piece of the puzzle out, then he might really be onto something.