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JIM LECINSKI: Well, good Friday afternoon, everyone,
and welcome to another exciting edition of Authors at Google.
We're originating today from our wonderful Google Chicago
office.
[APPLAUSE]
Round of applause.
I will be your presumptive moderator for the day using
the zeitgeist word of the day.
I'm Jim Lecisnki, and our guest today
is with us, Chris Anderson.
Chris is the curator of the TED conference
and has been since 2002, following
a long and successful career in the publishing industry.
We'll talk a little bit about that today.
Chris has developed TED into a global platform
for identifying and disseminating
ideas worth spreading.
Welcome, Chris.
[APPLAUSE]
So great to have you with us.
I wonder if maybe we could get started,
if you'd tell us a little bit about your background.
I mentioned the publishing.
How does a philosophy major and publisher
come to lead and transform one of the world's
great digital brands?
CHRIS ANDERSON: Definitely a long, twisting journey.
I was a journalist originally, actually,
when I first came out of university,
and I made the mistake of buying one of the early computers.
It was like a Tandy TRSAT clone.
And I was awed by this thing.
I kind of completely fell in love with it,
and to cut a long story short, a few years later,
I found myself working at one of the early home computer
magazines, and I loved that.
And then I decided, this isn't so hard.
Let's publish one.
So I started a company, published a magazine.
Bizarrely, it worked, and then this thing took off.
And so the publishing part was just
building lots and lots of these nichey hobbyist magazines that
were deeply boring to everyone, except the people they
were targeted at, who kind of loved them.
And so we had this philosophy.
Our complete logo was actually, "Media with passion."
And that's always been my mantra as an entrepreneur
is look for the passion.
If you can find something that people are really
passionate about, that's your clue
that there's something there, that this is kind
of the proxy for potential.
And so when I first came to TED in 1998, TED was back then,
it was actually started in '84.
Nothing on the internet, of course.
It was an annual conference.
That was it.
And I went there in '98.
It was bringing together Technology, Entertainment,
Design, TED, and I fell in love with it.
I thought, I've come home.
And what I saw was this passion.
People were so passionate about it.
It was like, this is my best week of the year.
And I thought, why is this your best week of the year?
But that was the clue.
And so when there was a chance to buy TED from its founder--
he was 65-- and I leapt at it.
And so that happened in 2001, and the journey since then
has been a wild journey of its own.
But that's how I got there.
JIM LECINSKI: Great.
And we'll talk about that journey since then.
In some sense, it's been said that it
was the power of what was then new media back in 2006,
online video in particular, that really gave TED its boost.
Would you say that's the case?
CHRIS ANDERSON: That's absolutely the case.
When I bought it, I bought it with a nonprofit,
a foundation I had.
And so the intention was always, it
felt like there was all this inspiration.
It was supposed to be for the public good somehow,
but how could you let out the knowledge
that was at this private conference to the world?
And our first attempt to do that was on TV,
and TV wasn't interested.
These are lectures.
They're lectures.
They're kind of boring.
Lectures are boring.
Now I didn't actually listen to them,
because they weren't boring.
But they weren't interested.
And so yeah.
So when this weird technology called online video
with its shaky little kittens and all these other things
happening came along, we thought, wait a sec.
Maybe we could, as an experiment,
put some TED Talks up.
Probably won't work.
They're too long for the internet,
and you're not going to be there live.
It's on video.
To our amazement, these things went viral,
and so that was the moment, 2006,
when we decided we had to flip TED on its head.
We're no longer just a conference.
We're a media organization devoted to sharing ideas.
JIM LECINSKI: And so let's build on that a little bit.
You described what TED stands for, T-E-D, but how would you
talk about its meaning, its purpose?
What does the brand stand for?
CHRIS ANDERSON: It stands for the bringing together
of knowledge in ways that people can understand.
The world's really complicated, and most of the time,
we go deep.
You have to know something well to have a chance of succeeding.
You dig deep.
You learn your speciality well.
And that's how most things operate.
That's how most conferences operate,
most university courses, whatever.
That's what you have to do.
But there's a place for context to actually understand
the world we're in.
You need to go broader than that.
And actually, lots of other things
happen when you bring together knowledge from different areas.
You get the catalyzing of new ideas.
You get the possibility of collaboration,
and so I think that's what hit me suddenly
was why Ted had a role to play.
There's just not much of that happens.
And so if you can persuade people to come together
from these different fields and explain something
they're passionate about in ways that other people
can actually understand, that, I think, that definitely
over a few days, for example, that had the effect of selling
these spots in your brain.
And you just thought of stuff that you
hadn't thought of before.
And so that's what it stands for.
JIM LECINSKI: We'll come back and chat
a little bit in a second about the power
of how those talks are built on understandable ideas.
But I want to pursue-- you mentioned the word
collaboration.
Most of our audiences has not had the pleasure
of actually attending the conference when they were
in Long Beach or now back in Vancouver,
so could you maybe paint a little picture about not just
the speakers on the stage that we
can see by watching the video, but it's
a full four-day collaboration event with the dinners.
And can you maybe paint picture of what
happens during that week?
CHRIS ANDERSON: Sure.
So yeah, it's four and 1/2-ish days.
There are basically 12 main sessions of TED.
Each session is an hour and 45 minutes,
and it's five to six speakers, plus other little performances
and things thrown in there.
So it's quite fast-moving.
What's unusual about TED is that everyone sees every speaker.
It's one track.
And that doesn't usually happen, but it is the whole point of it
is you are supposed to be exposed to stuff you had
no idea you were interested in.
And it's become a truism at TED that the session that you
think is going to be most boring is the one that blows you away.
And so amazingly, people do commit
to coming to each session, and that
means that you can have a shared conversation in the corridors
after.
And the collaboration is not really something we stage.
It just happens that the combination of that exposure
to these different speakers and ideas,
it sort of sparks things in people,
and weird projects emerge out of it.
JIM LECINSKI: Yeah.
Now is it the case-- I had heard that you discourage or don't
allow digital devices or live tweeting or cameras
or these kind of things in the room?
Is that the case?
CHRIS ANDERSON: That is the case.
Apart from the back two rows, where
people can tweet if they want to, or in the simulcast spaces.
But in the main theater, we say no, because all of life right
now is this attention war, and talks are weird things.
They often take a while to build.
To share a really big idea or something that really matters,
you sometimes have to build context.
You have to go through, gosh, 90 seconds, where
it's a little bit challenging or boring for a minute.
If people-- because I've just got to check my email,
just for this moment.
They miss a couple of key context things, they're gone.
And then the talk never lands.
And once more, the five people behind them
are sort of annoyed, and it's sending a signal that this
isn't that interesting.
So everyone else decides it's not that interesting.
You are, right now, you are a super organism.
You're all actually, although you're not
fully conscious of it, you're feeding off each other.
You take cues from each other.
And that's what happens in a lot of things.
So we try to have a different contract
from the normal contract.
Audience, you're actually going to give your full attention
to this speaker for 18 minutes.
Speaker, you're going to work bloody hard for several months
to produce the talk of your life and make it worth their while.
And that's the deal.
JIM LECINSKI: You know I actually
asked that question as just a not-so-subtle hint
to our audience today.
CHRIS ANDERSON: I'm actually stunned,
because I thought coming to Google, of all places,
you guys would all be coding and whatever.
You're all so brilliant, you can multitask your way
through this.
No problem.
JIM LECINSKI: There you go.
So maybe tell us a little bit about the simple question
of who gets to do a TED talk.
How do you decide?
CHRIS ANDERSON: In principle, it's simple.
It's someone who's doing amazing work that other people need
to know about, and the rest is detail.
And so it's hard to decide who those people are.
We get 10,000 suggestions a year from people around the world.
We have a curation team.
For a conference, we're trying to weave
a sort of mix of people together around a theme.
This year's theme was dream as in big, bold dreams.
But there's no algorithm to it yet.
Please don't invent one just yet,
or we'll be out of business.
It's a sort of-- because we want, with the program,
to-- and I think a lot of events fail to do this.
We want to poke at every different part
of people's minds.
It can't just be about something analytical or storytelling,
what have you.
There are different parts of minds
engaged when you start to go to the aesthetic
or to someone's inspiring story, or to here's
a really complex scientific issue that we're tackling in.
There's energy that comes from that,
and so it's not just who you bring.
It's then trying to sequence them in a way that will work.
JIM LECINSKI: I heard you once say
that-- I don't know if it's a filter or a screen how you put
it-- but one consideration that you
look at in deciding on a speaker is who would
benefit from hearing this idea.
Is it just you?
Is it just your team?
Is it just your organization?
Or--
CHRIS ANDERSON: Right.
So that is actually-- I would say
that is the number one advice to a speaker,
and it's the core thing that's in the book.
It's so tempting as a speaker, you think, hey,
I've got an opportunity.
So I'm going to use it.
I'm going to promote my organization, my cause,
and in the process, I'm going to take the chance
to be a little bit of a rock star, because I can.
And that's the trap that so many people fall into,
and it's very counterproductive, because it actually shuts down
the audience.
If you can do it the other way around,
if you can make clear from the start
that your purpose in being on stage is to give something,
is to give people a gift, a gift of something that you know,
and that if they knew, it would make a difference to them.
I mean our lives are built around our worldviews.
Different knowledge means a different life.
It means doing things differently maybe years
into the future.
So come with a gift, and I think if we
don't see that in a speaker, if we smell for a minute
that they're in it for self-promotional purposes
primarily, not interested.
JIM LECINSKI: Right.
And that's good advice not just on stage at your conference,
in general, I suppose.
CHRIS ANDERSON: I think in general.
I think absolutely in general.
Even frankly, even if you are trying to sell something,
the best salespeople don't come on and say, hey,
here's what I got.
They say, what are you passionate about?
What are you thinking about?
What do you need?
What are you curious about?
How can I help?
So absolutely.
Every speaker should be thinking about the audience
and what they can offer that could be of interest and use.
JIM LECINSKI: Now in terms of speaking delivery and speaking
ability, you've described yourself,
and I think greatly underselling your powers,
as not a natural charismatic speaker.
In some senses, your predecessor was
a charismatic, outgoing person.
But you've had this awesome ringside seat
for the past dozen or so or more years watching great speakers.
So what have you observed about the perennial debate of you're
a natural at it or not, or you can learn it or not?
Some people can only get so far at being a good speaker.
What's your point on I guess nature and nurture?
CHRIS ANDERSON: I mean, I'm convinced
that the only thing that you need to give a great talk
is something worth saying.
You need knowledge.
You need to have done some work that deserves a wider airing.
The rest can be taught.
Honestly, it can be taught, because the last thing you want
is for everyone to learn some sort of style of speaking.
We don't want to think of speaking as a performance.
There definitely are some people who
are natural performers and who can in the moment
sort of smoothly pluck beautiful, elegant phrases out
of nowhere and pass them on.
So not everyone probably can do that.
But that's a good thing.
We don't want everyone to do that.
It would get exhausting, honestly.
What you want is a variety of different people,
different skills, different standpoints, different speaking
styles.
What you want is authenticity.
You want people who care about something.
And even if they half stammer their way through a talk,
if you're learning something, that is fantastic.
So I just feel passionately about this
that it's a tragedy that there are so many people out there
in the world, and I bet there are even
people here in this world-leading company, who
feel under-confident when it comes to public speaking,
despite having something really valuable to share, something
that if the rest of the world knew, rest of the world
would like it.
And so we've got to get over that.
JIM LECINSKI: Yeah.
So maybe if you tell us a little bit about two people who've, I
guess, fit both of those profiles or archetypes
that you just outlined.
Maybe Sir Ken Robinson as a natural, a gifted,
one of those who can pluck things out,
and maybe someone who's a little more hesitant like a Monica
Lewinsky.
Maybe if you could just tell us a little bit
about those two examples to illustrate your point.
CHRIS ANDERSON: Sure.
I mean Sir Ken Robinson came to TED in 2006.
I think he'd already been voted Europe's Best
Speaker or something like that.
I was a little suspicious of him,
because I thought if he's that good,
what are we going to get here?
But he kind of shuffled onto the stage and said,
you know, it's been great, hasn't it?
I've been blown away.
In fact, I'm leaving.
And people sort of tittered and giggled, and then
over the next 10 minutes, they just
didn't stop laughing, because he just brilliantly told story
after story about kids.
And we all wanted it to go on forever.
And having won all that affection,
he was able to give us this very inspiring story and argument
that creativity is completely under-taught in schools,
undernourished.
And that resonated with so many people so deeply.
And so that was 2006, and it was told to 800 people.
And now 800 people every hour watch
that talk online all these years later,
and he's up to 38 million or whatever it is.
Monica Lewinsky was terrified, for obvious reasons,
coming to TED.
She'd stayed fairly invisible for the best part of a decade.
And she felt passionate about certain things,
about this issue of cyberbullying.
But it took a lot of courage for her to come and raise
her voice, and naturally, coming into the conference,
she thought, gosh, what if this is a big public stage?
I'm on video.
What if I'm humiliated again?
It was really hard for her.
I think she almost pulled out a couple of times.
But what held her there was she wrote on her script,
this matters.
And returning to sort of giving this in the service of an idea
made a big difference.
She did a few smart things physically
in terms of exercises, breathing, whatever
before coming on stage.
And in her talk, she structured it
cleverly so that up front, she had
a very disarming personal story right in the first minute
or two that had everyone laughing.
And at that moment, she told me she just relaxed
and knew that she had it.
So that talk was extraordinary.
That's been seen by eight million people now,
and it really changed how a lot of people thought of her
and how a lot of people thought about this issue.
So I'd definitely say that if she can overcome her fear,
anyone here who is fearful of speaking could.
JIM LECINSKI: So you talk about some of those conventions
that she used.
She also had some great sticky phrases.
I remember one that hangs with me is she called herself,
I think, patient zero of cyberbullying.
So that brings up the natural question of,
do you coach these speakers?
Do you write the scripts?
Do you edit the scripts?
Do you review them?
Or even are there scripts?
Or is it all improvised?
CHRIS ANDERSON: So it's different in every case.
In the majority of cases, there are scripts.
And we certainly don't write them in the first place.
We invite a draft.
If we don't think that it's quite there,
we may suggest some changes, usually broadly, occasionally
line by line.
I mean, the hardest thing for speakers
is actually to adjust the scope of the talk
to fit 18 minutes or so.
Like people say, I'm coming to give a big talk.
There are so many things in my life I'm so proud of
and I want to share with this group.
You want to jam them all in somehow or other.
And that means that everything gets dealt with surface level.
Overjammed equals underexplained.
So the hardest thing is the discipline
of cutting it out, cutting it out, focusing on the one idea
that you're most passionate about
and, therefore, giving yourself time to unpack it properly,
to set up the context.
Why does this matter?
Why do I care about it?
Why should you care about it?
How has this been tackled historically?
Why didn't that work?
What could work now?
Here's an example of why that could work now.
Here's why it matters.
What are we going to do with this?
All those things are what make the idea vivid and actionable,
and so that's the hardest piece is people just come
in with too much usually.
And we say to them, maybe focus on this one thing.
JIM LECINSKI: I mean this is the famous, if I had had time,
I would have written you a shorter letter.
CHRIS ANDERSON: Exactly.
Exactly.
JIM LECINSKI: Exactly.
So in terms of presentation styles,
I'm going to give you two sort of poles.
Of course, there's many shades of gray in between,
but there are the speakers, I imagine,
who come in with a full script, everything written, practiced
and timed, fully memorized to 17 minutes and 59 seconds.
And it's recall, push the button,
and all thousand words come out.
And there are probably others who
come in with a series of stories or bullet points
or sketches that they kind of know
they want to cover and want to leave room
for some spontaneity.
Do you see both?
Do you encourage both?
Can both work?
CHRIS ANDERSON: We see both.
We encourage both.
And both can work.
JIM LECINSKI: Next question.
CHRIS ANDERSON: The trap is going in the middle,
in between the two.
So the type of talk that I think we try and discourage
is the I'm planning to memorize this,
but I'm still a little bit stressed,
and I'm not quite there.
And the audience can hear that.
If you start giving your talk, and then your eyes sort of roll
up a bit, and then, oh, let me just
start that paragraph again.
And suddenly, people have this sickening feeling-- oh,
my goodness.
He's reciting.
And the life, in a way, goes out of it, because what you want
is this live human moment.
We're here, and you're smiling at me, and now it's lovely.
You know, like I feel this chemistry, this excitement.
This happens live, and people want
to decode the I'm looking at a live human mind,
and I'm making a judgment right now.
And it's hard for you, because you're looking at my shoulder
here, but I'm making a judgment right now about
whether you can trust me.
It's hard to do that if you think someone's reciting.
You actually can't.
So if you're in that mode, here's what you have to do.
You don't tear it up and go back to notes.
You double down on your rehearsal,
and you own the talk.
You make it part of you so that when you're in the room,
it's not at all a problem to remember what you say.
You know what's coming next.
It's right there.
And you can focus again on the meaning
and on wanting to connect with you, because actually, now
that I think of it, this particular idea is right
for you right now, and speakers can
get to the point of doing that.
And I think probably the majority of TED talks
are memorized.
A small number of them do sound a little bit robotic,
and people push back against that.
Most of them, you really feel the person's passion,
and it's thrilling.
The danger of going the other way is that you can ramble.
You can go over.
You can miss out some of the key things that you wanted to say,
or you can miss the chance to really use the best
language to say something.
You want to really clearly explain something.
On the other hand, it can be live and fresh,
and some people really can do that very well.
What I'd say to someone who was planning
to speak from bullet points is it's still worth rehearsing it.
Rehearse it three or four times, even
if it's just in your bedroom with a cell phone there
recording.
You'll find out the awkward moments in it,
and it'll change, and you'll move from awkwardness
to owning the talk.
So either way, rehearse, and get to the point, where you feel
like you really know the talk.
You feel like you just know it.
And then you can focus on meaning and connection.
JIM LECINSKI: So let's get into the book a little bit more.
I mean, this is some of the content in the excellent book
that you've released.
You said that the goal of every TED speaker
is to plant the seed of a powerful idea.
CHRIS ANDERSON: Yes.
JIM LECINSKI: And the book starts
to unpack ways to do that.
Let's, I guess, tackle the first elephant or monkey here, which
is, is there a formula to plant that seed?
CHRIS ANDERSON: No, there's no formula.
I think the first thing to note is that it's
a miracle that you can do it.
If you think, what is an idea?
If you could take the idea, democracy
is fragile, if you could color code that in your brain
and look at what actually encodes
that in the human brain, I would guess it involves
literally millions of neurons.
It's a fantastically complicated pattern.
Yet somehow in an 18-minute talk or less, a speaker
can transfer that entire pattern into everyone else's minds.
It seems like an impossible thing.
The only way it happens, it can do it,
is because we share language.
So you're building this pattern out of elements that
already exist in the minds.
What you're trying to is to put them together.
But to do that, you have to be incredibly
disciplined about remembering that it's their language,
it's their concepts that you're building from, not yours.
So your jargon, your assumptions, that's what
can kill an explanation stone dead.
And there's this cognitive bug called the Curse of Knowledge,
which pretty much everyone suffers from
and which is the tendency to forget what it's like
not to know something.
You guys here, you live in a world
where it's natural to talk about algorithms and coding
and whatever.
You have a conversation with people somewhere else,
and you suddenly wonder why their eyes are glazing over.
It's actually not because you're a boring person.
It's because you missed out something
like they didn't understand why this mattered
or what the context was.
And we do this all the time.
And so as a speaker, try your talk out on someone
who isn't in your normal circle, but who
might be like the people in the audience.
See if they get it.
You kind of have to do that.
JIM LECINSKI: Yeah.
And so you've talked a little bit
about how using familiar concepts,
metaphors as a bridge to get a complex topic across
can be effective.
CHRIS ANDERSON: Right.
So I think of a metaphor as kind of like a template.
You've got these different elements or ideas
in someone's mind, and a metaphor
shows how they connect together in a shape that's
familiar so that you get it.
So Jennifer Khan, a science writer,
was trying to explain CRISPR to us at the last TED.
And we've had several scientists try and explain it,
and they got all terribly complicated
and all this sort of complex science of DNA and so forth.
She said, no, look, it's like a word processor for the genome.
You can use CRISPR to cut and paste
any gene to any part that you want or, indeed, any letter.
And we go, wow, a word processor for the genome.
I get it.
So metaphors are really powerful,
and examples are powerful as well
to make sure that you're cementing in the knowledge.
Oh, so this is what I mean.
JIM LECINSKI: One of the other conventions or devices
that you talk about in the book is getting personal.
You mention Monica Lewinsky opened her talk
with a personal story.
What's been your experience or your advice
on using personal anecdotes or personal experience?
Because often the advice is speakers will come up
and say, I, I, I, me, me, me turns off the audience.
CHRIS ANDERSON: Yes, if you think
that the speaker is saying it's all about me, that
is a turn off.
But I think there is a case to try to diffuse skepticism
and mistrust.
If you think about it, if this agenda of trying
to build an idea in someone's mind,
you're doing something very intimate there.
People are skeptical about letting
a stranger come and poke around inside their brain
without permission.
And so first of all, there's a process of learning to trust,
of saying, do I trust this person?
Do I like this person?
Do I want to open up to this person?
And you need that opening up to happen if explanation
is successfully to happen.
You can't push knowledge into a brain.
It has to be pulled in.
JIM LECINSKI: And so the personal
is the way to build that trust.
CHRIS ANDERSON: Right.
So I'd say it's not so necessarily personal.
It's not saying, let me tell you all about me.
It's more saying in a personal way,
why this matters but just showing it
in sort of an informal way, rather than starting
at a conceptual level.
It's like saying, hey, we're going to go on a journey
together.
This is where I'd like to go.
And by the way, it's going to be fun.
Here's why you should come with me.
And just trying to convince people of that.
JIM LECINSKI: I want to remind our audience
in a few minutes we'll be taking questions at the microphones
here, so have your questions ready in a couple of minutes.
One of the concepts that really resonated powerfully
with me in the book is this notion of the through line.
I wonder if you'd explain that for our audience.
CHRIS ANDERSON: So if it's right that a talk should
be about building an idea in people's minds,
then everything in the talk needs to connect to that idea.
You think of it as your through line.
And so things that aren't part of that get cut out,
but then everything else connects to that.
When you think about what's happening in a talk,
you're taking this very complex three-dimensional object
of an idea, and you're trying to transfer that.
And your means to do it is a one-dimensional stream
of words.
So it's inherently hard, and what you have to do,
therefore, is to thread those words in a way
where it's clear how each part relates.
So if you're going to give a counter-example,
that needs to be clear that that's what you're doing.
If you're giving some historical context,
you need to show that that's what it is.
If it's an anecdote, people need to get a sense of how this
relates to what's happening.
Otherwise, again, it's like I like the sound of your voice,
and this kind of makes sense, but I'm
really not sure exactly where you're going
and how these pieces fit together.
And a lot of talks feel like that.
They feel the pieces are there, but it doesn't quite land.
JIM LECINSKI: Yeah.
In the book, you also talk about a powerful speaking device
is to uncover and explore a disconnect
or a seeming disconnect in a common world view.
CHRIS ANDERSON: Yes.
Persuasion-- to persuade someone of something,
you first have to show them that what they believe right now
doesn't really make sense.
Like before you can blow up someone's worldview,
you need to just tease it out a bit.
So do you really want to believe this?
How is that consistent with this?
And so it's this wonderful feature of some talks.
In a sort of teasing, friendly, but in a powerful way,
just reveal that this view has got to be absurd,
and that stokes curiosity.
And there's this concept of the knowledge gap.
Once you are aware of this knowledge gap in your mind,
you instinctively just want to close it.
And curiosity says, more, more, more.
Help me figure this out.
I don't like this.
JIM LECINSKI: Yeah.
In addition to the talks themselves,
you've done a wonderful job of extending the brand.
We've talked about putting those talks and those videos online,
certainly the book that we're talking about today.
But there's TED X, TED Ed, some of these other brand
and line extensions.
I wondered if you would just maybe talk about some of those
and how you see those fitting in.
CHRIS ANDERSON: Having seen the success of just giving away
the content, we became a bit obsessed
with giving things away and the power
of that in the connected age.
And so we thought, what if we gave away our brand?
It doesn't seem like that bright an idea at first glance,
so we added an X to TED and said the X stands
for self-organized.
And if you would like to do a TED-like event somewhere
in the world, we'll give you a license to do it.
It's over to you.
And amazingly, there's 3,000 of these now a year.
So there's nine every day or so.
And obviously, we couldn't do this.
Like I've got 15 people in New York,
who are overseeing 3,000 events a year,
and it's because of the power of TED X.
So these events go from filling out the Sydney Opera House
to an event in a jail or TED X Baghdad or whatever.
Absolutely.
And we just love seeing what happens there.
There's about-- YouTube, thank you very much--
is the main distribution vehicle for these.
There's more than 60,000 talks on there, and many of them
are getting a lot of views, so that's
been a thrilling experiment.
And then TED Ed is just our reaching out to the brand
to a youth audience.
And instead of talks on a stage, we're saying teachers,
let's have your best lesson.
Five or six minutes to spark curiosity.
Thanks to Google, knowledge is no longer
a problem in the world.
Everyone has access to all the world's knowledge.
For some reason, educators haven't quite
come to terms with this yet, and we still think of education
as trying to jam knowledge into a brain, to fill it up.
It should all be about nurturing the right kind of curiosity
and the right way to ask questions, the right way
to bring in the right knowledge.
So these are curiosity-sparking videos,
and they're animated, but from a teacher's best words.
And so we have the thrill of a great teacher,
who during their whole career, has reached 5,000 kids, at most
or whatever.
And suddenly in the first hour of their talking online,
they've reached 50,000 kids.
And it's so thrilling for them, and it's fun to see.
JIM LECINSKI: And education and learning
has been long part of, I would suggest,
one of the core tenets or essences of TED.
I mean, obviously, since the beginning,
but maybe perhaps, Sal Khan, Salman Khan,
was one of the most preeminent that came and talked
about education.
I wonder if you'd maybe share some of your experiences
with him and what he's done.
CHRIS ANDERSON: I mean, Sal Khan, in my opinion,
he's a true global hero.
I mean, for a hedge fund manager to give over his life
to educating first his cousin, his nephews,
and then the world, I mean, it's really incredible
that one person could do that.
And he's starting with just the power of video,
and then adding in this idea of mastery
so that people can learn at their own pace.
That's the real power of video is
that it makes no sense to force a bunch of kids
to learn at the same speed.
They're all different.
Video allows them to decouple from time
and find their own rhythm.
And that allows people who you'd never expect to master topics
in their own timing.
So it's incredible.
And he gave a very inspiring talk at TED.
And by the way, he's got the best single quote
in the book, which is when you give a talk, just be yourself.
Like if you're a creative person, be a creative person.
If you're a humorous person, be a humorous person.
If you're an egoful person, however, leave that aside.
JIM LECINSKI: That's good advice.
And in a sense, what started on your stage
there has been a revolution in learning.
There are more than a few school districts
who have so-called flipped the classroom,
and the homework is watching Sal Khan to absorb the information.
And then the class itself is the practice,
as opposed to what we all learned
was you learn during the day and go home and practice at night.
So that has to be very gratifying,
the kind of thing when you talk about ideas worth spreading.
CHRIS ANDERSON: Yeah.
And I think that is hugely powerful.
I think it's still early days, and there's
lots of versions of that being explored,
but I think it's very exciting.
JIM LECINSKI: Yeah.
Has there been any topic area that you would very much wish
to have explored throughout the TED process or on stage,
but you haven't just found the quite right speaker, or maybe
an area that you've thought about diving into,
but haven't been comfortable bringing to the stage?
CHRIS ANDERSON: Yeah, there are lots.
JIM LECINSKI: Any you'd like to share with us?
CHRIS ANDERSON: Well, just being personal
as the sort of philosophical geek, who
used to lie on the floor of his student room
trying to understand the world and failing, consciousness.
Who the hell are we?
It doesn't make any sense.
I mean by all sort of scientific definitions of consciousness
that you get to a certain level of complexity
in decision making, Google itself is conscious right now.
Maybe it is.
We don't know.
But what is it?
Who are we?
These are very difficult questions,
and we've had a few speakers in.
But I would love more of that.
But that's a little selfish.
I mean, politics is hard, right?
In many ways, TED is sort of this escape from the ranting
that we hear 24/7 on cable, but there's
something about certain topics that force people
into a tribal mode.
And it's very distressing when we stop reasoning
with each other and sharing ideas
and start shouting at each other and just staking out positions.
And so we don't have traditional political-type talks.
I would love to find more people who can frame ways to bridge
and frame different ways of looking at politics.
And so we're constantly on the lookout for that,
but it's hard.
That's hard to do.
JIM LECINSKI: Let's invite our audience
to come up to the microphones and ask some questions,
and as they do that, you mentioned scientific.
You know, there are quite a lot of,
as you used the example here today,
there are quite a lot of heavy-duty scientific topics.
But then there's a lot of sort of different points of view.
We can pick global warming.
Is it, isn't it these kinds of things?
Do you have a scientific body that
reviews the sort of realness of the science?
Or how does one know into these deep topics
if it's real science or skewed science
or a personal point of view?
CHRIS ANDERSON: I mean, we're committed
to real science in principle.
What real science is is a matter of debate,
even among scientists.
We don't have a formal process for doing it.
We're constantly thinking about this.
We're actually in the process of hiring a science curator,
and that person will have a group of advisors as well.
Certainly, pseudoscience, I think,
doesn't have a place on the TED stage.
There's enough amazingness happening in science.
There are so many brilliant scientists
out there, who have incredible knowledge that's worth
sharing without needing to go to people who are probably
going to end up misleading.
But what the line is between the two
is sometimes just a matter of judgment.
JIM LECINSKI: Yeah.
One of my favorite talks was a young 10-year-old,
I think, that you had from Africa.
I wonder if you would tell that story if the audience hasn't
seen his amazing speech.
CHRIS ANDERSON: OK, so this would be-- I
think it's the Kenyan boy, Richard Turere.
I think about he might have been 12 by the time
he got to the TED stage, but earlier,
he had taught himself electronics