How the TED conference exploded in popularity—spawning a host of competitors, copycats and aspiring TED talkers:

Until recently, the universal self-­actualizing creative ambition was to write a novel. Everyone has a novel in them, it was said. Now the fantasy has changed: Everyone has a TED Talk in them. There are people on YouTube who upload webcammed soliloquies about whatever and title them things like “My TED Talk.” There’s now even a genre of meta–TED Talks. For a TEDActive talk in 2010, Sebastian Wernicke, a statistician, crunched the data of extant TED Talks to reverse-engineer both the best- and worst-possible talks. Elements common to the most popular TED Talks, he determined good-humoredly, included using certain words (“coffee,” “happiness”), feeling free to “fake intellectual capacity and just say et cetera et cetera,” and growing your hair long. He created an app, the TEDPAD, a kind of TED-omatic that can generate “amazing and really bad” TED Talks.

“Those Fabulous Confabs.” — Benjamin Wallace, New York magazine [Not single-page]

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