TED Talks for the IT Crowd

By Nicole Hemsoth

September 1, 2010

The chances are pretty good that if you’re a frequent visitor to this site, you’ve heard of the TED conferences. TED stands for ”technology, entertainment and design” and the conference plays host to the most creative, accomplished thinkers of our time within those conceptual frameworks. Not many of us are lucky enough to attend this preeminent event, but we can access videos of some of the many talks that have been given at the TED Talks videos archive. It’s the next best thing to being there.

The only downside, if you can call it that, is sorting through the 700-plus online videos to figure out what to watch. Well, that’s where a recent article at Computerworld aims to get you started. Author John Brandon has culled some of the best of the bunch, a set of just eight talks relevant to information technology professionals on topics ranging from gesture-based computing and extreme data visualization to gaming that aims to save the world. The expert speakers are as varied as Stephen Wolfram (on creating a computational theory of the universe) to the ever-intriguing Ray Kurzweil (on machines that think and grow).

Anyone who is involved in computing on any level would do well to watch these brief yet illuminating series of talks — even if you just want to impress your friends at the next dinner party or wow your boss with your knowledge of some remarkable new technological trend.

The videos range in length from just over 20 minutes (Jane McGonigal on how gamers can save the world) to a mere 5-and-a-half minutes (Tim Berners-Lee on making the world’s data open source). Analyst commentary from Jon Peddie of Jon Peddie Research provides a healthy dose of skepticism while explaining how the ideas apply to the real-world market.

The tagline of the TED conference is “ideas worth spreading” — in that spirit, check out some or all of these talks, and feel free to present your gleanings in our comments section.

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