TEDx Oxford: Ideas Worth Spreading

Have you heard of TED talks? TED stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design, and describes itself as a non-profit organisation devoted to “ideas worth spreading”. The talks, of about 20 minutes each, are hosted online at TED’s homepage: http://www.ted.com/

Curious to see how speakers conveyed complex ideas to a non-specialist audience, I headed to the annual TEDx event in Oxford. These events are independently-organised by local communities: essentially, they invite a programme of diverse speakers to come and deliver their TEDx talk in front of a live audience.

Several of the speakers at TEDxOxford, but by no means all, were researchers and academics, and talks ranged across subjects as varied as translating Shakespeare’s Hamlet online, to what it’s like to spend a month living underwater.

Taking a step back, the most exciting aspect of the day was feeling part of a bigger conversation. The assembled audience of over 1500 people had chosen to give the January sales a miss, and instead be stimulated, perplexed and entertained by ideas.

The day also offered insights into how people are engaging with the internet and social media in active, rather than passive, ways. Without the online world, the kind of global connections we heard about simply could not be made – but being connected in itself is not enough. When these links and connections are established in a way that generates change, then the full potential of the internet and social media as a force for education begins to emerge. TEDxOxford certainly provided food for thought about the new kinds of approaches to Joseph Zobel that this blog could generate…

In my next post, I’ll say a little more about TED, foreign languages and translations…