WSU is gearing up for a 2nd attempt at running a TEDx event. I was lucky enough to give a talk at last year’s event:

In the process of researching and developing the talk, I dreamed up an interesting question: If TED is indeed where conventional wisdom goes to die, and TED becomes conventional wisdom, then what happens to TED?

While the question was posed in fun, and TED talks are a lot of fun, there is a serious side to this. TED does indeed have it’s own meme. If you watch enough, you will observe a similar pattern. Andrew Stanton’s great talk is an example of the meme and was indeed inspiration for my talk:

Where Stanton’s talk is fun and innocent, Will Stephen’s talk from last November is much more hilariously malicious: http://tedxinnovations.ted.com/2015/03/13/spotlight-tedx-talk-how-to-sound-smart/ Chuck Pezeshki clued me into this and into algorithmic vs. heuristic thinking. After watching this, and looking back at the elements I used to construct my talk last spring, I too fit the meme. My neophiliac tendencies were initially bothered by this. But you have to remember, people have a certain expectation of style with TED talks. When in Rome…

So as you’re developing your own TED talks, take a moment and think about whether you’re following an algorithm or a heuristic. One respects the originality of the culture and process, the other mimics. The success of your talk likely resides in the difference.