Richard Saul Wurman, who created the popular TED conferences for discussing technology, entertainment and design ideas, won the Lifetime Achievement Award.
In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TED has created a program called TEDx. TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience.
There is also a welcome absence of PowerPoint presentations. Instead there are plenty of images — but precious few professional scientific diagrams, which can quickly lose the audience's attention. This forces speakers to craft talks that can engage sophisticated but scientifically untutored listeners at their level. And it also encourages speakers to try for a freely flowing, relaxed presentation style, without notes.
The talks have a strict time limit of 18 minutes — no interaction with the audience, and no questions except the informal ones asked in the extended conversation breaks. Academics used to talking for 30 to 45 minutes might imagine this to be severely constraining. But TED demonstrates that, for a general audience, 18 minutes is plenty for getting across context and key issues, while still forcing each speaker to focus on a message — whether it be advocacy or the celebration of new knowledge.
The research also shows that about a third of TED Talks videos are about science and technology and these are as popular as the other videos. Some of the science and technology talks are given by scientists and these tend to be more liked than those by non-scientists. Least popular seem to be the talks with an art and design theme.
The organization has launched an e-book imprint and an e-reader app. Abroad, “TEDx” events run at a global rate of about five per day, in a hundred and thirty-three countries.
Things like the decision in 2005 to give away the content for free. Because what's most remarkable about TED and its transformation into an international media organisation and a global force for the dissemination for knowledge is that it all happened pretty much by accident. When Anderson bought TED in 2001 on behalf of his non-profit-making Sapling Foundation, it was more like an elite supper club for the masters of the universe.
And yet TED has brought back the concept of the sermon – 18-minute talks delivered by absolute experts in their fields. Five years ago, when YouTube started out, it was assumed to be where you went to look at cats that looked like Hitler, or people falling off skateboards, but TED Talks, with its short disquisitions on everything from neuroscience to creativity, has just celebrated 500m views on the site. By the end of next year, that figure is expected to reach a billion.
What happens to TED's profits?
They are recycled to advance the mission of "ideas worth spreading." TED is owned by the Sapling Foundation, a 501(c)3 private foundation set up by TED's Curator Chris Anderson in 1996.
TED is a nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design. Since then its scope has become ever broader. Along with two annual conferences -- the TED Conference in Long Beach and Palm Springs each spring, and the TEDGlobal conference in Edinburgh UK each summer -- TED includes the award-winning TEDTalks video site, the Open Translation Project and TED Conversations, the inspiring TED Fellows and TEDx programs, and the annual TED Prize.