Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

The Art of Presentation: Talk Is Certainly Not Cheap at the Annual TED Conference, but It's Free Online, Writes Becky Hogge

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

The Art of Presentation: Talk Is Certainly Not Cheap at the Annual TED Conference, but It's Free Online, Writes Becky Hogge

Article excerpt

For anyone who has sat in a stuffy room, high on cheap coffee and bored stiff by the man who is reading word for word his 17th slide on a subject in which you have no interest, the idea of watching conference talks for pleasure might seem rather perverse. But more than 15 million people have done just that at the website that supports the annual Technology, Entertainment and Design (or TED) conference.

TED was started by Richard Saul Wurman in 1984. Among its inaugural participants were Benoit Mandelbrot, father of fractal geometry, and Marvin Minsky, the artificial intelligence expert; it showcased demos of the original Macintosh computer and the Sony compact disc. Since then, Stephen Hawking, Jane Goodall, Isabel Allende, Richard Branson and Dan Dennett have all graced the TED stage. The conference tagline is "Ideas worth spreading", and it sets its speakers a simple challenge--you have 18 minutes to deliver the presentation of your career.

TED is held every year in Monterey, California. This year's conference wound up last month--after short, sharp presentations from, among others, Al Gore, Bob Geldof and Dave Eggers. I wasn't there--tickets are by invitation only and cost $6,000. But that doesn't matter. Thanks to the vision of TED, now led by the British publishing entrepreneur Chris Anderson, I can watch more than 200 of the talks online, for free.

TED.com is astounding. I have looked on in wonder as the face of a young Leonardo da Vinci has been revealed in the drawings and portraits he left behind. …

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