A couple great articles in last month’s edition of FastCompany (September 2010).
First, the article on TED, and how by sharing these talks freely on the web, the entire business has grown tremendously.
Also some great insight from Wurman, TED’s creator (that was news to me), about the format:
A single track of programming (“They think people want choice, but the people talking at the break don’t have a common memory and all feel that they went to the wrong session”); no Q&A (“Out of the first 20 questions you get, 19 are either speeches or bad questions”); and, most famously, an 18-minute-talk length.
About the 18 minutes:
“It’s not fucking mystical”, he says. “Fifteen minutes would be trivial, too short. If you said 20, people would talk for 25; 19 seems perverse, 17 is a prime number, so I made it 18.”
Not sure I get why a prime number wouldn’t work, but let that be.
The article is about how he’s left advertising to focus on what amounts to a spiritual quest. I think he’s onto something in this quote:
The “you” needs to go away for there to be the real greatness to things. So for me, the genuine part, it’s a weird thing – to get to the real you, you have to be less you.
There’s a lot of contradiction in the story, but let’s just commend the guy for making the plunge.
It’s not an easy path to travel, and ego is *really* skilled at stepping in and taking over the spiritual quest, egoified awakening. And it seems this fellow has a pretty big ego, so some swingback, some wobbling, some back-and-forth in the process to find a new pair of feet to stand on, is to be expected.
It’s taken me several years so far, and I’m still fucking it up on a daily basis, so let’s cut the guy some slack.