This year’s TED Global event is at full swing in Edinburgh (if memory serves, the first time it has left its US home base to be organized abroad).
Now, let me be clear: I do not hate TED (and, as anyone who reads me on a semi regular basis knows, I reserve such emotion for very selected issues, mostly based on ideologies or rhetoric more than individuals or organizations). Moreover, I have enjoyed some TED talks. However, Tweets like the above baffle me and amuse me on equal levels. Here’s the thing: TED is based on a principle of exclusion and well, inequality. The entire organization thrives on making their events as exclusive as possible (so much so that they have devoted an entire section of their website to answer the question “Is TED elitist?”). Entrance fee for the Global TED event runs at thousands of dollars (and they kinda pat themselves in the back because it is not as expensive as attending Davos). Their local TED events (like TEDxAmsterdam) are free to attend but guest lists are carefully filtered through so that only those who are deemed worthy can attend (or those few who win tickets in competitions that are always part of marketing schemes to further spread their brand).
But then, these events which are attended exclusively by the wealthiest or the local sociocultural elites devote their programs at taking jabs at “the system of inequalities”. When in reality, there isn’t one single poor person (or anyone from the oppressed groups these talks seek to “save”) in attendance. Because of course, the networking opportunities are afforded to the ones who “talk about the poor, the dispossessed, the displaced”. The subjects themselves? Well, they make for interesting PowerPoint slides.