Please trash this TED talk !


Earlier this year I got seized by an idea that wouldn't let go. It turned into a TED talk, just posted.

The talk's been well-received... but nonetheless I want you to tear it to pieces.  That's because it's about crowd-accelerated innovation, meaning you-the-crowd are capable of taking an idea and making it way better. So let's test that theory.
Pick holes in my logic!
Give better examples than I could find!
Name the passages which are confusing or obvious!
Suggest how I could use this thinking to improve!

If, as I argue, web video has the potential to launch the biggest learning cycle in human history, we're going to need the smartest approach possible. So please, watch the talk, and if it sparks anything in your brain, share it by posting a comment below, so that it can spark the rest of us. 

I'll read every comment.  And I'll mail the best book I've read this year to those who submit the 3 most powerful contributions. 

The Prezi I used for the talk is here.  And there's a link to an interactive transcript of the talk at the top right of the TED talk-page.

UPDATE Oct 28, 2010. Here are the contributors who I've judged as 'winners'.  I ended up with six, all of whom I'll send Matt Ridley's book (if you're one of the six, please email me with your physical address).  I'm thrilled with the effort put into all the responses. Really helpful. Many others could have won if there had been fewer responses. Thanks to all!

Benita Parker - for the "pitch of your life" concept
Sbijlstra - for suggestions on identifying credible contributors
John Warren - for valuable free tips from a speaking coach!
Ramla Akhtar  - for responding in video.
Joerasmussen - for his thoughtful comments on zealots vs vandals
George Por  - mainly for his second 'practical idea'

57 responses
I think you're dead on and I really enjoyed your talk. However, and it is a big however, the key thing you failed to address is the fact that access is not equitable across the world and is unlikely to be unless developing countries effectively address the issue of access. Your TEDx Kibera example is brilliant but it is an outlier. More about that at
Stevesong, you're right. But I'm hoping that access will end up being delivered by the cellphone companies. There's a massive leapfrogging happening across the developing world where cellphone usage has exploded. 3G networks - which would allow full-on web video - are already being widely advertised in India, for example, and I'm guessing that within five years, many in the developing world will have access to a video-enabled phone. The next step is to figure out a way for carriers to offer cellphone plans in which education comes free. We're already starting those conversations.... If we're successful it will be a big step toward leveling the field. But there's a long way to go, and I'd love to hear from anyone who thinks they can accelerate that.
For this to work as we hopeful imagine, there must be a profit angle for the types who would otherwise want it to be squashed. Lots of people work every day in big companies that seem to tout innovation, but the compensation/advancement/political system is inherently set up to back stab, build silos, be secretive and self-centered, etc.

So, the idea of everyone sharing the best of ideas is wonderful. But unless the "big dogs" of society make a profit, they'll stop it. Just like the owners of genetic patents would love to make perennials a thing of the past, right?

I'm behind you. I share your excitement. But we have to be realistic about powerful people not wanting this unless there is clearly something in it for them, right?

(I love TED and appreciate all of your work!)

Three points

1. More could be said about crowd-accelerated innovation among children.
Problem: 70 % schools still block YouTube
70% of schools block YouTube and similar sites while video growth is on target to become 90% of all web traffic. There is TREMENDOUS opportunity for children to become active participants in crowd-accelerated innovation. In fact, lets give those Kindergartners that are so good at building marshmallow towers a go at sharing their success tips on their own YouTube channel.

2. Crowdsourced video project centered around TED Talk(s)
TED presenters are world-class achievers, and it would be interesting to create crowd-accelerated innovation via TED around some of the talks (and presenters). Sort of like a YouTube's Life in a Day experiment (, where 80,000 YouTube fans recorded their life in a the same single day and uploaded it to the Life in a Day page. The resulting professional video, directed by Kevin McDonald Ridley Scott, will incorporate the best of the entries and will be screened at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival. In the mean time, YouTube has created a nifty visual viewer to view uploaded videos (

3. Crowd-accelerated innovation is not just happening around video.
Video is growing rapidly, but I believe that the cloud, in general, is the driving force behind crowd-sourced initiatives. A few interesting examples I found recently:

A man who had been in Korea in the 1940's posted a photo of a page from a Korean book or booklet and wanted assistance translating it because he had no idea what it was or what it said. Several people provided their translations, but at least one person (probably a subject matter expert), provided interesting additional information about the time period, the context for the object, the intended audience, and some historical background surround the time period. Fascinating successful crowd-sourced initiative.

Another amazing example of how people are using the cloud to connect across the far reaches of the planet is Impossible Music ( Austin Dacey uses Skype and cell technologies to connect suppressed musicians around the world with American counterparts who perform the suppressed musicians' music live while the artists watch, jam, and interface via Skype. We are actually planning to have the Iranian musicians from Impossible Music Session 1 perform at TEDxTampaBay and will, of course, be livestreaming.

What I would like to see someone focus on and talk to, is how those "global tools" can not just bring the global community together, but how they can be applied locally as well.
"Think Global - Act Local" redefined.
Most smaller communities are overlooked by the media, and local neighborhood blogs, web-video TV stations can have a huge impact in communicating, transforming and educating small communities around the world.
With the help of the global tools and the global audience it's not neccesary anymore to have an address in NYC or Berlin. You can have your organization or business in a smaller City, with a higher quality of life and stay connected to what's going on and connect your own local community with tools that used to be only available and affordable by the "big media companies".
When will we here that the small town City Council races are decided because of social media and web videos?
Or investment deals are made across country into small businesses that are effectively connecting to their local community?
Yes! Truly inspiring!
It was long!
Integral to the 3 dials -crowd, light, desire is the speed at which this interaction takes place.
The secrets going forward are to be learned from the "classical education", and the best thing for communicators is the challenge of keeping it brief and amazing!
Another crucial point:
There is not one pie, which we all get a piece of. (See comments about silos and big corporations above)
Paul Zane Pilzer's view of economics must be the basis for any positive change going forward. This has radical implications for crowds and for learning. There is an exponential advancement with the sharing of ideas.
Wealth is created, not just shared.
Video use conquers a major change in hierarchies, putting them on a horizontal and not vertical position. This is one of the biggest short term and long term hopes we have in helping save the lives of those who suffer from suicide disorders, which still claims a life every 30 seconds (source: World Health Organization). We will definitely get 3G networks available in the developing world before an increase in health expenditure in mental illness in these countries, today less than 1%, with one practitioner available for every 1 to 4 million people. To cut a long story short, video stimulates and obtains practical response from areas of the brain which conventional ways of learning now fail to acquire, giving a chance for left-brainers to participate in economic growth, which can bring gargantuan social changes. It not only gives the chance for such a large proportion of the world to learn, but also to cure. To state one of many possibilities, what if practitioners from the developing world opened an online community to aid mental patients, through video, in Northern Uganda, which has one of highest rates in mental illness in the world, instead of leaving them with one of the few available options which is to still cage even small children who suffer from various sorts of brain disorders? Imagine what this crowd of left brainers androgynous thinkers and doers could accomplish if they really are giving a chance to act in the Conceptual Age, which is theirs? The increased sense of dignity itself can change the world.
Amazing one Chris. I am in Egypt and we have had the Online TV development booming here for the past year and going. The past years were just people watching and uploading videos on Youtube. But today we're actually building media and video platforms. I am a web developer specialized in video players. Mobile video is a little bit away because the Mobile Network Operators are slowing it down not because of infrastructure but to ensure a stream of "new features" introduced - although still outdated- plans on which they make a lot of money!.

The online video itself is inheriting a lot of the evolution of the web, we will probably see more of what you said a many-to-many complete learning process. The mechanism in which the video players are crafted to allow sharing to be embedded everywhere and not just stay on Youtube is promoting the content in that direction.. I once made a presentation on that..

However, we face this issue in developing countries; crowds tend to contribute less positively on a given content unless it is "Cool" rather than "Informative". The negative comments outnumber positive ones on lesser-interesting pieces of content way too much eating up your media storage, a reason developing countries stay away from including 2-way communication channels with users. An example of that is, if you have a restaurant review website, chances are the input you will be getting here is immature unless the channel is exposed to the contributers social circle (i.e. Your restaurant review is a Facebook application where everyone in the contributer's social circle can see his comment).

Hopefully this well all change as people in developing countries get more and more engaged to and dependent on the internet. I am pretty sure this is coming very soon.

We love TED in Egypt! Keep it up!

CORRECTION: In what I previously posted, I meant RIGHT-BRAINERS every time I wrote left. Their time has come BUT they need HELP, they respond to video much more productively than any written material, here again cutting a long story short. I, as a right-brainer, can't even tell the difference from left to right (didn't really mean to leave a personal note here). As a child I learned to speak 8 languages fluently and with little time I could not read anymore due to increased mental illness. After being introduced to TED by a friend who works at Amnesty International, who specifically asked me to look first at Ken Robinson's talk (now I've seen literally every one that is online: doctor's orders ;-)), in two years I slowly managed to start reading again. Thank you TED friends for the opportunity and hope which from the first day I spread all over and will always continue.
TED talks are bits of info from a specific road or destiny or path.
The best way TED could be improved is if the talk is placed in a context where people could see the path and have the opportunity to take the path (see the path's beginning).
Take another look at and use your imagination to expand the paths already present there to meet certain TED talks. In most cases, new paths need to be created.

Salman is alone in creating his academy but he doesn't have to be alone.

I only have one criticism - it's too long. :)
Great talk, I think your on to something here. I read that Barry Schwarz is even calling TED 'the next Harvard'

The 'weak' part of your talk would be that you address mainly cultural improvements. While dancing is great, dancing with 9 Bn people won't save us..
You do mention JOVE and a small step into kibera, but I'd love to see an explicit examples of online video:
- helping agricultural development
- Minimizing waste
- Changing education (e.g sugata mitra or as Peter mentioned Khan Academy)

used in your presentation to underline the tangible good it could do for the stressing ecological and economical issues. (as of course online video takes up resources too)

TED leads the way in expressing great Ideas (changing our mindset), but it's the follow-up projects on those ideas (in part in online video) that will actually change the world.. Challenge is to find those best suited to add to your presentation.

PS1 I missed a (n explicit) reference to Shirky's concpet of cognitive surplus, which in your interpretation can be very easily added via video.

PS2 You should definitely be the first to add video comments to your TED forum as it was discussed there...

I think this might seem more useful than it really is.

All of the innovation you describe is all brilliant, however, how much of it is technical? How useful for the human race is innovation in the field of rube goldberg machines? These kinds of things on the internet may be entertaining or hilarious, but unfortunately, they also tend to be less than important.

I think that there is a barrier that still exists in the form of noise. Simply put, most of what is online is garbage information. Search engines can help, but It is still difficult to find high quality content. Organizations like TED help immensely in this regard in that here we have a library of high quality information, all of which can be easily accessed digitally...

Unfortunately though, there aren't very many organizations or sites like TED - but that is bound to change soon enough. I think the future is very bright, anyway. I for one cannot wait to see where our species will be in ten years.

Another issue with the crowd-accelerated -innovation in general that i'd like to see addressed is credibility/validity:

What I read in a Scientific paper is peer reviewed (hopefully double blind)
What I read on wikipedia is generally fact checked
What I see on TED is double checked by TED ( I presume) on factual correctness

What I see on youtube / Vimeo et cetera is Wild West in the basis.

To actually have the revolution you hope for I think we need some kind of basic control function or credit stamp, as non-truth can be told with great persuasion; denialists of all sorts of actual happenings can and do seize the lights and attention you talk about. I'd hate to see us clogg the web and the new netizens with the wrong materials...

sbijlstra, I agree this a huge issue. The last thing I want to do is clutter up with questionable material. But I strongly suspect -- or at least strongly hope -- that we'll find a way to empower the 'crowd' to locate and endorse the good stuff and flag the nonsense. One way this could happen is identify a network of smart, trusted people in the community who get extra votes when it comes to highlighting - or burying- a piece of content. I suspect the community itself can help identify who those people should be... but we will have to be alert to the system being gamed or abused. Would love specific suggestions from people on which sites have this best figured out.
Michael Brasher, you're right that noise is a big problem... but to me the miracle is how often it's relatively easy to locate the gold hidden in the dross. Whether it's a carefully-worded Google search, or going to youtube and doing a search ordered by number of views, or reading a typical wikipedia article and realizing that even though in theory anyone could just have trashed it, 99 times out of 100, they didn't ... and it's actually really good. To me that's miraculous.

And I think we're still early in the game of figuring out how to empower the crowd to shine a laser beam on the stuff that's significant. Anyway, that's the agenda for TED for the coming months. To figure out how best we can filter out the noise and uncover gold.

The concept is brilliant.
Execution will be difficult unless the pipes that carry the information/data/ideas are free and open.
It doesn't matter if those pipes are made of wire or radio waves. As long as the pipe owners see profit in regulating/throttling the traffic, making the pipes a closed, priority based, ability to pay to gain access equation we risk loosing great ideas and great connections.
And as long the next quarterly report is the driver for those owners rather than their unfettered ability to tap in to those amazing ideas i don't think this concept has legs.
We, as a planet need to discover the leverage that can remove the disincentives in order to make this concept a reality.
Hi Chris and everyone,

I have one very simple point about Chris's inspiring TED talk which is this -Chris's challenge means that I now have to go and watch it again and to do something about it!

The reason I have to watch it again is that I was half asleep watching it the first time. The problem wasn't the talk, it was my mindset. I was sitting back (I'm on holiday) feeling like a distant spectator. I was watching it with my consumer 'entertain me' hat on.

In his talk Chris just invited me into this arena of people who are changing the world, then gave me front row tickets and then said 'Hey Michael, I know you are enjoying the spectacle but can you actually join us out here on the pitch because we could do with someone like you?'

When we show people that they can be useful, their voice is important, that their story is worth listening to, that they are invited to join in then they will flourish and surprise everyone including themselves.


Michael T. Rossney

The Energy Coach Consultancy & Training

Mobile Phone: +353 087 960 88 33
skype: Mike Rossney.

"Work like you don't need the money. Love like you've never been hurt. Dance like nobody's watching."
- Satchel Paige

There is a potential here to massively disrupt education on a global scale and there will be many with a vested interest in slowing it down, altering it's course or stopping it all together. I have been playing with this idea for a while and believe that the really best standard of education can emerge with the most committed of educators thriving and growing through the process.

There are so many complementary business models that can accelerate this process, whilst still providing for an a self supporting and expanding economic market in education and life skill development. There is not a one size fits all approach to delivery but the potential to create a platform, with open APIs that allow for a multitude of approaches to coexist is immense.

1. My only comment regarding the video is that to me there seemed to be a blurring between innovation and learning. This may be a "which came first...the chicken or the egg" comment.
2. Do a contest and ask TEDsters to submit the "pitch of their life". Give the winners the opportunity to attend the next big TED conference. Ask the TED community to vote for the best ideas/videos.
3. Create a venue/greenhouse for new startups (especially those with a social responsibility component) to share their ideas/business plans. Make it appealing and credible for startups, venture capitalists and/or foundations by asking TEDsters to weigh in on ideas. Take this process which is currently done in silos and shine the light on it!
4. Create a venue for job seekers to give the "pitch of their life" to employers. There has got to be a better way to connect people out of work and employers than sending in a flat lifeless piece of paper. Bring those people to life!

I love TED! Thank you!


I posted this thought in my comment on the page for your video:

"Your talk about online video adding a missing layer in the communication -- face-to-face interaction -- made me think if the next step for technology is to become this invisible thing that lets humanity shine through as opposed to replacing it with CGI/avatars?"

This was just a thought that struck me right at the time I was writing my comment but I continued thinking about it since then and the more I try to think of avatars and any other CGI for that matter trying to represent a virtual representation of YOU in some game or virtual environment the more convinced I'm getting that the technology will soon hit a plateau unless it reinvents itself!

As Ben Cameron suggested in his TED talk "Ultimately, we now live in a world defined not by consumption, but by participation!" This has inspired me to write about engagement and attention in a participatory world!

<sidenote>In the spirit of not promoting myself, I won't post any links, but if you're interested you can find the blog link on my Twitter profile. It appeared on Freshly Pressed on on Tue ;-)</sidenote>

The premise I have been considering since watching Ben and I thought your talk supports is that in a participatory world, people seek attention more than they're interested in money -- though money may come, but that's a side effect more than a goal. Now, the attention feeds back as it makes them feel happy and satisfied with what they're doing, which makes them engage and participate more, which leads to more attention, etc. -- you get the point ;-)

Before your talk I was convinced that the technology is just a tool and does not in itself help people actualize themselves. It is the interaction with other people that provides the actualization as the technology alone cannot provide the feedback loop we need to fuel the process. After your talk, I have come to realization that the technology is not a tool -- it rather brings down walls that prevented many people from actualizing themselves in meaningful interaction with other people.

I even dare to compare the democratization of technology like sharing online video with the Berlin Wall. Just like that liberated interaction between countries separated by ideology, the technology is liberating the interaction between people separated by geography.

Not only that, by putting the attention seeking as the primary prize, I think it is shattering the walls built by culture, prejudices of racial, gender and similar type. The force that keeps people to conform to the standards in their community can't trump the force that drives people to attract attention and excel in something that other fellow humans find inspiring, interesting, worthy of respect or simply amusing.

If I am right about this -- and I hold you on your promise to read every comment ;-) in a hope to get your feedback on it! -- then technologies that try to build more lifelike appearance, including depicting emotions and such, to avatars and other CGI that is representing YOU in a virtual environment are doomed as they're constraining no matter hard they try not to be. Avatars are not liberating -- a technology that let's ME be ME is liberating!

The two most powerful aspects of this talk are 1) the video of Kibera and 2) your invitation to "trash this talk" (an example of the radical openness June describes).

1. Experience - a sensory phenomenon - is how learning takes place. It sparks associations for insight (A-ha!) and creativity (what if...). This is the neurological driver of innovative thinking, which video (and shared experience) taps into so naturally.
Christopher Makau is clearly an exceptional young man. If he was presenting, in person, there's no doubt that he'd touch and inspire the audience. But when you can take the audience to Kibera, the visceral response to "being there" is so much more profound. It settles into the memory of each viewer and becomes his/her own experience. THIS, in my opinion, is why video is such a powerful medium for communication and innovation.

2. Focus - other than commentary on the phenomenon (viral spread of ideas, iterative innovation through shared networks, etc), I'm not sure what the purpose of the talk is. Is it a celebration of (deserved!)? Is it an invitation to something? A call to action? With the exception of your smart and delightful invitation to "trash this talk", it's not clear to me what it is that you want to leave the viewer with.

I'm sure you know that your insights, in themselves, are not unique. That doesn't matter; what matters is the application of the insights however, as I stated above, the intention of your talk seems without definition.

My final comment is about Prezi. I really want to like this tool but, fact is, it's not comfortable for the viewer. I trust that, at some point, the panning out/zooming in capability that Prezi allows will be a part of a more integrated vocabulary of presentation tools, and saved for when it (pan/zoom) really illustrates a point.

Thanks for the opportunity to contribute!

I seem to have lost a post in the wash of the commenting system. I will put something together off line and try posting again later.
crowd+ -light+ -desire+
RE: -desire+
add a visual of the on-the-verge of an "epic win" expression - It's a "high end" emotion that not everyone knows about (let alone felt).
(I learnt of this expression via a TED talk)
It could add depth to the "face to face" argument you present of being able to *see* the connection to the idea being presented and the need for video (over print, etc.)

Also, how about adding mention of mirror neuron?

Chris, it was a wonderful presentation, and great use of Prezi and I must give it much more thought before attempting to pull it apart. Will aim to re-watch with this in mind mid-next week. THANKS.

Hi Chris,

This was a very provocative speech that has me anxiously excited to learn more about crowd-sourcing and acceleration. Thank you.

To play devil's advocate and try to pick out a couple areas that could be reconsidered:

Holes in Logic - when you referred to people using web video as a medium and stated "I don't think we're going to see terrorist, for example...", I instantly asked myself "why not?" If we agree that web videos are being used to educate and showcase the best-of-the-best of any type of community, then I can't see how we can distinguish between communities that have good, maybe more socially acceptable intentions vs. those who have bad. This would be my biggest question of your discourse. If I tried to answer it myself, I guess that groups within the “terrorist” category might endure a sort of supervision, but then this would go against the idea of openness.

Examples - the unicycle example shows a boy emulating and innovating his expertise. Very briefly just as the video of the boy fades away, you mention how unicyclists inspire each other to greatness and present a slide full of communities. Rather than describing the greatness, maybe the message can resonate more strongly if you showed how the boy interacted or emulated with other unicyclists, showing how they learned from one another and eventually reaching “greatness”. This goes along with the idea that videos are capable of capturing more interest and attention with its sounds, visuals, passion, .etc that are harder to take in with written materials and powerpoint slides.

Possible confusing passage - when you mentioned "talented students don't have to have their potential and their dreams written out of history by lousy teachers", it sounds a bit awkward for me (written out of history). Maybe it has to do with where I grew up or my ability of capturing English innuendos, but I did get the main point that web videos make it possible for me to sit in classrooms with the finest.

All in all, I really enjoyed this great presentation and hope to be part of the research and investigation that is to become of it. If I was to give one recommendation for TED, it would be to make the organization much more accessible anywhere in the world, especially for people like me who aren’t located near your office. If I was, I’d already be knocking at your door asking to teach me more. 

Thank you Chris.

Chris I found your theory very interesting, it made me think about many what ifs. While I agree largely with the principle I doubt the inevitable effectiveness in the big picture. The trouble I see with our species is that for the vast percentage of the population in the world we have moved from innovating out of necessity to innovating out of comfort, convenience and vanity. Instead of fostering a collective desire to solve real problems, we continue to focus our collective energy on things that provide absolutely no return on investment; they simply consume resources and mind power. I believe it will only be when we are pressed to the edge that will we react and move back to the true nature of collective innovation in order to survive.
@ chris re: validity

On the popularity you already have a decent system, much like disqus has. That helps a long way already to use common sense of the crowd.

But to validate the contents in a semi-scientific way I'm afraid you'll have to invent a system yourselves, as I haven't seen it anywhere. ( If I do I'll send it your way)

Some elements to consider/include:
* Wikipedia's editor function: as you suggested select people from the TED crowd that have credentials on a given topic/segment (i.e. math, biology, software, engineering)
* Divide the work in a Mechanical Turk style functionality that creates a double blind element
* Use other sources to validate the work and/or the person. Scientific metalibraries like Web of Science (thomson) give you not only articles but also give a view of all reference used and all articles referencing to it, thereby creating a citation index. ( Article X is referenced 6 times, average paper in this publication is 3 times indicating it stands out)
People following a speaker on a blog, linkedin, twitter might be used as indicators too.
* Create an option for speakers to add sources and links to the edited video for those that want to dive in deeper

I suspect you already have an entrance for those first 3, as I've seen them represented on your stage ;)

Hi Chris!

I love your challenge to use your own talk to test the theory of "crowd- accelerated innovation"! I am writing from the perspective of a speech coach and trainer, mostly for high tech and bio-tech industries. For over 20 years I've been a lead trainer and coach for PowerSpeaking, Inc. Here are some insights from that perspective.

1. I appreciated your insight into what other TED speakers go thru; sweaty palms, sleepless nights, unnatural fear of clocks. But that the good speakers have "raised the bar" and forced other speakers to better prepare for their talks.

2. I absolutely agree that one of the reasons I and so many others watch TED talks is because of the "serious magic" that gets communicated thru body language beyond the words themselves. You said that "face to face connective tissue" and that is what the human brain is wired for. I think that's one of the reasons TED is so popular and growing so rapidly.

3. I like the analogy that what Gutenberg did for writing is what online video can do for face to face communication. And, with the growth that you quoted from Cisco - in less than four years that 90% of web traffic will be video - this change will affect everyone.

4. I also like the challenge that you put to TED to grow from one-to- many to become many-to-many, so that we not only learn, but respond to make any idea better. Thanks again for doing that here.

5. The image of the three dials: Crowd, Light, Desire works well, but could have been the real focus of the talk, with a stronger challenge to the live and viewing audience. For instance, if you stressed (as you just mentioned at the end) that YOU are the teachers, you could have asked each person to think about their own Light (what do they have to show to the world?), ask each person to examine their own Desire (what is it that really turns them on?), then you could urge them to use TED or any other forum to participate in crowd-accelerated innovation.

6. Talks with a main message or theme that gets repeated are often easier to remember, for example, Martin Luther King's famous "I have a dream." or Jeff Skoll at TED saying "Bet on good people doing good things." or Barak Obama's "Yes we can."
Yours could have been Chris Makau's words "Change happens when we see things in a different way." Then weave the theme of crowd-accelerated innovation as seeing things in a different way throughout the talk.
Or you could have stressed that "crowd-accelerated innovation requires three things: crowd, light, desire" and explained each of those elements in terms of the whole.
Or you could have said that "YOU are the teachers of the future." Then you could have expanded on each of the three dials from the perspective of the individuals in the audience.
Those are only three possibilities of the kind of "glue" that I think would have held the whole talk together.

7. You mentioned the "serious magic" of body language, but yours could have used some better coaching or practice.
Specifically, I'd encourage you to have more variety and vitality in your voice, since one of the dials is about Desire. Let your desire for crowd-accelerated innovation come thru in your voice.
Keep your right hand off your hip - something you did several times.
Instead of shifting your weight from side to side, try moving more fully between points. For example, move to different place on the stage when you describe each of the three dials. That gives purpose to the movement, not just rocking.
When you say "YOU are the teachers" don't point, but gesture to the audience with a full and open hand. It looks more inviting and less like they are being scolded.
Don't talk over a word slide like Jon Chu's. Either let us read it, or put up his photo and summarize his ideas in you own words.

8. You close was fantastic with the video and story of Chris Makau, and then showing them watching from Kenya. It was a perfect demonstration of crowd-accelerated innovation, and a great way to put the focus on others who are making a real contribution.

I've watched TED videos for several years, and often wished that I could have provided some speech coaching for speakers before they went on stage. Now that I have the opportunity to provide some coaching for you after your talk, my desire is again fueled to offer that kind of coaching for other TED speakers. I'd love to hear from you about any way that could happen.

Thanks again for being a model for using the community to make something that is already good - your talk - even better.

John... you rock! That's seriously helpful advice in paras 6 and 7 which I will pay v close attention to. Thank you, truly. And as for your request in 8, pls email me
@TEDChris: Ahoy! Here's my response to "trash this TED talk". In video. DO YOUR 2.0!
P.S. Chris, I was in the audience at TEDxKarachi where you first spoke of Interconnectedness and Crowd-Accelerated Innovation. You seemed to pause significantly when you spoke of Interconnectedness. I thought to myself that the pause was inevitable. One cannot be *told* what interconnectedness is, one has to experience it for themselves.

Seems like you did the best kind of learning: learned from your own self. You've dropped *that* confounding part in this TED Talk. You let interconnected be implied and seen, than to talk about it. It cannot be talked about -- the gestalt of it is experienced.

So that's 1+ for you (and this particular TED Talk!)!


Hi Chris - thank you for the talk. It helps me consolidate the concepts around technology enabled crowd driven innovation that I have heard before. I really like you bringing up the point of how this is enabling us to disseminate ideas in our more natural mode of communication.

Granted, as pointed above, there could be more solid examples other than kids dancing to show how at the end of the day we can be net contributors; but hey you only had 18 minutes and it's from the basic things, we build the big changes.

Done with the good comments, onto the 'trashing'.

1) Your argument "And, very happily, there's one class of people who really can't make use of this tool. The dark side of the web is allergic to the light." presented in 18 seconds was quite weak.

I think your audience (and us) would appreciate that often there's a flip side to innovation. There's enough reason to be positive in the talk without the need to discount the reservation of this tool being used by the 'dark side' - especially if you're not going to elaborate.

Posting plans and asking for feedback to make it work - are small parts of what can be done - and even that, you're making the assumption that the mainstream online video platforms are the only media they can take advantage. What if they speak in codes? What if their videos run on their own protocols? What if the 'desire' spread by video propaganda causes indirect motivation for grass-root terrorism innovation? What if some gullible kid posts a science video blog and a drug dealer punk posts a video response on how it would be cool to make morphine and use it?

I am not saying you're wrong, maybe there will be some kind of natural selection. I am just saying to me your short argument didn't justify such absolute statement.

2) I find your "If it's all puppies, porn and piracy, we're doomed." wasn't really worth the giggle.

This reference-material, highlighting your (and maybe ours) subjective take on these social/legal issues was out of context from a talk that could simply be a great objective explanation consolidating our thoughts on how our technologies (esp. web videos) are enabling our truest form of communication and crowd accelerated innovation.

I agree with you that, "I don't think it will be" that case. And I admit they are important social issues to address; but perhaps not in your talk. Lest we forget that these 'puppies, porn and piracy' guys are maybe in the forefront of innovating the web video / data sharing technologies in discussion that allow us to spread the nobler ideas. Arguably, some porn sites are even better cached than Youtube!

That's it for now; thanks again for the talk!

Hi Chris,

Brilliant talk and amazing site.

I post my imaginings of the world here:

...but it's so easy to pick up a TED talk and plonk it down somewhere else that my site has become largely a story told in videos. Your site is eating mine!

My antennae prick up when you say we could 'identify a network of smart, trusted people in the community' to perform a task that is essentially a flirtation with censorship. You could so easily build an architecture that leads to a tyranny of the majority – with a resulting loss of diversity. In our government structures, tyrannies of the majority are just about the best we have discovered so far. On the net we can do better, and it seems to me that Wikipedia has shown the way.

Wikipedia has built an architecture that reverses the normal economics of vandalism. Out in the world of hardware, it is much cheaper to wreck something than to fix it, T2. In Wikipedia you can wreck something very cheaply, but the cost the cost of repair is even lower. I’m not certain that it is true to say that '99 times out of 100' the users of Wikipedia don’t trash the content. Very often they do – but a vandal will only return so many times before they get bored. It’s easy for someone who actually cares to outlast the vandal. So you get a localized tyranny of the person who cares instead of a global tyranny of the majority.

It’s more difficult to outlast a zealot. A lot of space in the comments columns of TED is dedicated to the debate between a knowledge system based on evidence and other types of knowledge systems. This debate is often tedious – but it’s pretty hard to argue that it’s not important. For me it should be held in the full glare of the light you speak of, without a whiff of censorship. Indeed, it would be difficult to win an argument for evidence-based knowledge systems if you proceed by sweeping some of the evidence under the mat.

There's nothing wrong with the points you make and the vision you present. Powerful and inspiring. My only build on this is that, in itself, online video is just a tool (albeit a hugely powerful one) in a much bigger context.

What is that context? I believe it's the emergence of a 'global learning commons'. The commons concept has infiltrated all kinds of areas (IP, environment, politics, media, food) but we don't have a similar vision for learning.

Sure, we've got 'stellar' universities now starting to make their courses accessible, but that's still one-to-many, and it's still only a handful.

The real challenge lies in making schooling commons-based. What do I mean by that? Simply, that schooling - at least in the west - is 'enclosed'. Teaching and learning, largely, is funneled through teachers.10 subjects, neatly fenced-off, closed classrooms. Peer learning and learning through other adults, informally, is frowned upon. Schools are physically enclosed, and have become inward looking (often through understandable concerns over child protection).

The learning commons encourages everyone into the space, and into the conversation about how learning takes place. It also allows students to go out into the world to learn, because the world has come in. Everyone has access to the resources - including social media, still banned in most schools - and everyone has responsibility for 'sustainable' use.

Internet technologies will play a huge role in developing a global learning commons, but there are big cultural obstacles (not least the standards-driven obsession) and hearts and minds to be overcome first! Don't leave schooling out of this debate - help get it back on the commons!

More on the global commons on my blog:

Sandy Rowley wouldn't it be nice to have a platform where all of the worlds problems were posted for public input..we would all vote of the correct action to take and then fund them..$1 at a time..they would report back with their results... beautiful video..i cried at the end. thank you...
Hi Chris, thanks for this talk.

This talk struck a particular cord for me. I spent the last three years figuring out how larger niche entities (like TED) can empower thier users to benefit from video and the crowd, light and desire (which by the way made more sense to me written as crowd, relevance and ego).

Also, I found that with this crowd feedback system, you are always guaranteed that a debate will crop up.

The vision I had was that TED could allow it's millions of smart members to contribute great video ideas to each other, and allow others to build on this idea with their own replies. And when a disagreement comes up, settle it in an organized split screen debate - all through video.

I would love to chat with you more about making this happen for TED Please email me.

My suggestion is not about the content of the video but about the approach you suggest for making it better. Instead of asking people to "tear it to pieces" which is a critical approach - and its easy for people to criticise - instead ask two different questions:
+ What is useful or otherwise good about the presentation and should continue to be included?
+ What is one concrete suggestion that would improve the presentation by even a small increment?

Too often the critical approach tears down ideas before they have had time to blossom. The above two questions instead help build on what is lraeady working and is sometimes a shortcut to improvement.

Dear Chris,

This is a longish riff on your question but, as they say, I didn't have time to make it any shorter.
Thank you for so eloquently modeling how to jump-start a collective intelligence (CI) process that can make a difference for the future of TED and the world. Your invite is engaging our imagination about how your message and its presentation can be even better, and draws out our best thinking.

Reading each other's comments, letting them in, and looking for potential synergies, we can even improve on our improvement suggestions. In the right conditions this exchange can become a self-running demo of collective intelligence arising from a small learning commons that your question brought into being. (As you can see, I am a sucker for possibilities. :-)


I will get soon to the "tearing apart" part of my message but, first, I want to share a little context. Last Monday, I was in the audience of TEDx Change in London and greatly enjoyed the show and got inspired by it. We had a stack of blank sheets with "In our future" printed on the top of the page, waiting for us to fill in the blank. Soon, our wishes/dreams covered a wall. I added my two cents that were this:

"We cultivate the collective intelligence of the global TED community so that we can get/co-create all these other 'In our future'."

Looking at that possibility realized in my mind's eye, what I see is TED becoming a self-organizing prototype of a global-scale collective intelligence for the common good. Clearly, many working prototypes will be needed before we can eradicate all unnecessary suffering from the planet. But we *can* do it and TED has already started it. What question could spur y/our thinking about next steps? How about this:

What are the key enablers and obstacles to boost our collective IQ? How should we work with them if we want to ramp up rapidly to a critical threshold, where the process of meeting of *all* MDG indicators is speeding up (so that new ones can be set)? That's the one of the two larger contexts, in which I held your question about how you could use the "crowd-accelerated innovation" thinking to improve . I held that context as a lens to my experience of watching again your vid, and this message is what it has generated.

The second relevant context former is "crowd-accelerated innovation" as a potent theory of massive social learning. (Disclosure: I've just finished writing the draft of a paper invited to a research workshop on "knowledge federation." It is a branch of the collective intelligence disciplines. One section of the paper is a riff on your vid. If you want to read a pre-pub copy and can put up with its work-in-progress dustiness, let me know and I'll send it.)


Here are main highlights that I picked up while listening to your talk.

1. Our future is many-to-many.

2. The visibility of what the best people in the crowd are capable of inspires learning and participation.

3. When people can compare, combine and enhance practices worth replicating, innovation is blasting off.

4. Web video is where it's happening.

My improvement suggestions relate to those points.
"Our future is many-to-many. So, we're dreaming of ways to make it easier for you, the global TED community, to respond to speakers, to contribute your own ideas, maybe even your own TEDTalks, and to help shine a light on the very best of what's out there. Because, if we can bubble up the very best from a vastly larger pool, this wheel turns."

If TED's future is many-to-many, then bubbling up the best from the global pool of individual creativity is an inadequate answer; in itself, it will not take us there. Having more and more individuals contributing their ideas to the TED ecosystem is good but it is still the "one-to-many" model. Many-to-many starts when self-organizing teams, communities of practice and co-creation start shipping the fruits of their work. Some obvious examples of that are the dance collective you mentioned, the language communities of TED's volunteer translators, and the growing number of local TED groups that add momentum to the whole.

However, the largest opportunity is still missed. Here is how it looks from the audience of a TEDx event. Watching you, Melinda Gates, Mechai Viravaidya, and the others on the stage at TEDx Change in NYC (from TEDx Change in London) was very inspiring, yet I noticed my frustration at the end of the day. It was triggered by sensing the huge, untapped potential of 1,000's of creative and inspired people in the global audience of the event, who could, in the right circumstances, graduate from a faceless "audience" to interconnected, collaborative networks of people engaged in doing what they are passionate about. Only then could we reach the next stage of collective intelligence, "exchange and specialization, where everybody is working for everybody else" (Matt Ridley). So what *are* the right circumstances, in which that can happen? Would that a conversation about them, you think, worth having? Is it already happening somewhere? If so, would you point to it?
To illustrate my perspective, here are two tweets that I posted after the TEDx Change:

#TEDxChange speakers were gr8! Yet, none of us is as smart as all of us. Free the potential of audiences turning in2 co-creative communities!

Matching the passion of changemakers with the power of Web 2.0 + 3.0, and we won't be defeated.... #TEDxChange #TEDxLondon

Talking about turning up the light dial, you said, "You need clear, open visibility of what the best people in that crowd are capable of, because that is how you will learn how you will be empowered to participate." TED is doing a lot of things right to turn up the light and using the kind of semantic technologies that is experimenting with, it could do even more. Yet, it feels that something fundamental is missing from the picture, in which a majority of TEDsters could morph from separate spectators to co-creative players.

What's missing is a deeper, collaborative inquiry into what tools and practices does the emergent field of our global-scale collective intelligence require in order to demonstrate true holopticism. Holopticism is a quality of collective intelligence, by which all parts can see the whole and each other, not only what the best people in the crowd are capable of. The latter is enough in a one-to-many perspective but not in many-to-man. Members of the multitude need to know about each other's talents, passions and competences so that they can optimize and synergize their own contribution in light of that.

The global "communities of practice" movement gives plenty of evidence about how cooperative learning groups foster the emergence of new and better ideas, everywhere, in workplaces and civil society. They can do that *because* they thrive on meeting their members need to know what each one bring to the table, not only best people in the crowd. If TED is to realize its full potential as an engine of global collective intelligence, or the "global learning commons," as David Price put it, then there is much that it can learn from the body of knowledge about communities of practice, widely available on the net and in books.


Sometimes, there's nothing more practical than a good theory, so let me start this part with my definition of collective intelligence: a capacity of human communities to evolve towards higher order complexity, harmony, and well-being through such innovation mechanisms as variation-feedback-selection, differentiation-integration-transformation, and competition-cooperation-coopetition.

Let's see how could it look if you engaged the power of such innovation mechanism in service of TED as variation-feedback-selection and differentiation-integration-transformation, using the case of your asking us to "Please trash this TED talk."

As much as it's a smart move to entice us into thinking with you how you can improve your message, the medium you used for that is very limiting and reinforcing the dominant one-to-many pattern of TED. Yes, we can read each other's replies to you but without URLs associated with them it is not easy to reference and build on each other's ideas. A conversation like this in Facebook discussion may get a larger number of responses, and a little bit easier way to find individual replies, but as the volume grows, so does the need for community knowledge gardening and curating the online exchange just as you do with the content of a face-to-face event.

So, here's practical idea #1: make better use of the TED Community site, link it with a content management system, preferably open source, support it a social host and a knowledge gardener, and watch the new waves of co-creativity that it will unleash.

# 2: What if you initiated some kind of community action research project (among the 42 members of the TED Community who used the term "collective intelligence" in their profile) about novel ways to boost the collective intelligence of its over 100,000 members?

# 3: What if there was a TEDx SharedMind, dedicated to showcase the best practices, tools, and projects for augmenting collective intelligence, at various scale, from small groups to global systems?

Finally, #4: If you think Web video is hot, what if TED would combine it with the another hot trend: conversations, i.e. people talking with one other in real-time about questions that matter, across distance, using inexpensive desktop video conferencing tools, such as Skype or Junto. If you want to get the most from the genre you can add a conversation mapping tool that can help with connecting that conversation with any other that has a similar focus.

Imagine, for example, the impact of a "Future of TED" conversation taped live with invited participants, which could then become a conversation starter to zillions connected local and translocal web video chats…
Does either of those ideas speak to you at all?

Chris, thanks for the opportunity you gave me to think through all these issues.

cheers from London,


It would be great to help enhance your software
so that we can help save lives while building on your success. Can we do this with you?

Essentially. Can we help you enable the microfinance donors to
collaborate on the projects the are microfinancing?
Also can we help you create microfinance projects based on inventing
solutions to global problems. For example by creating microfinance
projects based around videos such as videos.

Is it also possible to help you create open source versions of your
software that can address different societal needs such as education and health and food... is a rough prototype.

Who can I talk to about this? Would it be best to have a Skype chat
about this? I am 'Whymandesign' on Skype.

Do you have funds to cheaply and effectively enhance your great service?
(Starting with adding collaboration features)

This Ted talks shows the potential of using the brain capacity of
microfinance Donors...

Would it be possible to get paid a living wage to work on this full time
for you?


Edward Whyman

Earlier this year, I watched TEDxTokyo livestream from home, interacted a bit on the back channel (cheering on and trying to help when sound dropped out). Felt elated and inspired by talks like "Barbarian Capitalism and Invisible Capitalism" by Dr. Hiroshi Tasaka. Was moved, actually. Had a vision about emergent collective intelligence, so glad you asked for it now, Chris.

What if you introduce a break with the lecturer/audience pattern, great as it may be? How about if you involve a larger number of people? You could arrange a large circle of chairs on stage, and call an Open Space event, an unconference. I aim to illustrate effects in this blog post

Specify the topic, let the volunteers self-organize per the handbook and bear witness to what may happen. Once the process is going you as moderator cede the stage for the time allocated.

A smaller more broadcast-friendly version of this could be a Junto, Venessa Miemis' vision for virtual connectedness . Please feel free - anyone - to try out the virtual alpha prototype at . If time matches, I will be glad to guide through the virtual room. Posted a recording with teachers at .

Would be excited to see how a live Junto works out on-stage with the powerful people that make TED what it is.

I don't know if what I say will even stand out among the 35+ comments by everyone before me, but I'll give it a try as a student.

I could say that what you have spoken about did represent what I did when I helped organize a fundraiser for Pakistan in a mere 2 weeks. It was only by students, and using the web clearly helped a lot - even resulting in mass influx of a crowd hounding one of the organizers for tickets. Raising a whopping $20,000 that will be distributed to the victims, it didn't stop us. Even a short video I made using material from CNN had the impact we expected, and that helped to raise $1500 more (

After that, it became a priority for myself and 5 others to do something about keeping the community abreast of things unfolding as they drown themselves into their academic work. We went above and beyond to keep students up-to-date with what is happening, from talent to events. We don't even exist officially on paper, but we exist because we like to do what we think is best for the community.

We may be students, but we are the ones who are accelerating this entire phenomenon either by social media and digital video, or traditional physical outlets combined with online platforms.

this is very interesting TED.
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Would it be possible to work with you to make a re skinned
version of existing software so we can help the public to solve
other social issues (Ideally using the business structure)? Maybe working with someone like or which
is closing so maybe this is something I could help you take on so
everyone can share local knowledge? Also can share video's and create with your team?
Its almost like were at the stage when the printing press was invented - it allowed for a greater reach. Now (being a viable,capable mass information stream) the internet will allow us to once again reach even further.. we should make haste in learning from the past whether it be with regards too limitations or missuse.

One of my concerns would be the unchallenged 'publication' of online material, which to the majority,in 3rd world countries (in the future they should have internet access) , who may not be as educated with regards to the material content, could use certain unqualified information as a correct frame of reference. However i do suspect that viewer ratings and so forth will act as a kind of screening for false claims.

All in all the need, and desire for 'microfame' in the vastness of the net will ultimately fuel this wheel.. and its' magic to think of the changes it will have when the cycle of traditional learning changes

Brilliant. This just became one of my favourite TED talks.
Much after the deadline but still useful I hope, one of the most powerful examples of learning/future of video would have to be the - one of several educational platforms changing the way many learn online (you commented briefly and perhaps purposely with no direct examples).

Speaking Tips: Chris while I think John did a great job capturing some useful tips, I often appreciate watching those that are honest, authentic and not overly formulaic ... having now organized several x events there is a pattern that emerges when we try to get too involved in structuring a "ted" talk - most of our best talks were from those that probably would have gained the most critique from coaches but their ability to ease the crowd with little hiccups won them more ears and hearts.

Interesting that while several thousand viewed this, it garnered about 50 comments which is a celebration on most blogs/threads but it also makes me think about how making feedback/comments easier or more enjoyable will help nurture better responses.

The comments are great.
Is it possible to enable the TED audience to run TED? This would enable us all to help ted evolve and innovate. For example can we add crowdsourcing features to e.g. Ed @whymandesign

Thanks for the inspiration. I do take exception in one area, however. You say that students need no longer have their potential destroyed by a lousy teachers. They “can now sit two feet in front of the world's finest teachers.”

Teaching is not the same as instruction. A good teacher turns a classroom into something bigger than either him or his students. In fact that's what differentiates a good teacher from a lousy one. Both can be equally competent in their subject area. Both can be given the same subject matter to teach, the same text, etc. But results can be drastically different. The lousy teacher would likely have little problem presenting his lesson over a cellphone—or to an empty classroom, for that matter. The good teacher, on the other hand, would find it completely impossible. To him, the students (the crowd) are absolutely essential. It's like you said, “somewhere in that nonverbal portion there's some serious magic.”

We did not evolve to learn from cellphones. We evolved to learn through direct interaction with other human beings.

Perhaps cellphone lessons for the little girl in Pakistan are better than nothing, but. . .

Again, thanks for the inspiration. And thanks for TED.

You can see it the other way around. It is about feedback. You can get great feedback from your concurrent users. It is the same that companies that they sell generic viagra<
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