16 April 2019, 9:43 am

TED 2019: 10 years of ‘ideas worth spreading’

TED (which stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design) is famous for turning 17-minute talks into viral videos. This year’s conference has kicked off in Vancouver, offering a new set of thought-provoking talks under the tagline of ‘ideas worth spreading’.
The theme for this year’s conference is ‘Bigger than Us’ and includes talks from Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey, the president of Sierre Leone Julius Maada Bio and journalist Carole Cadwalladr, who broke the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica scandal.
The conference has become a showcase for tech innovations, with the talks later shared online, some gaining millions of views.
TED is not without controversy. Some view it as cult-like and insular, others do not like the fact that talks are heavily rehearsed and formulaic – most speakers will kick off with a personal tale – with one critic recently describing it as “amateur dramatics for intellectuals”.
And the conference, which prides itself on spreading good ideas, found itself at the centre of a sexual harassment scandal when five people, including one of the speakers, complained about being harassed during its 2017 conference.
But most agree that its fellowship program has become one of the best things about the annual conference. It offers around 20 “extraordinary innovators” a free pass for three conferences – tickets usually cost upwards of $5,000 (£3,800) – and a platform to showcase their ideas and turn them into businesses. They are also given mentoring with an expert dedicated to helping them expand their projects.
It used to be a sideshow of TED but is now an integral part of the conference – with day one dedicated to talks by fellows.
Now in its tenth year, the TED fellowship has created more than 400 fellows, and their talks have been viewed more than 250 million times.
The BBC, which has been attending TED since 2011, caught up with four past fellows to find out what being part of the TED community did for them.