It is easy to drown in the sea of digital media content. For anyone looking for senseless entertainment, we have the ever popular YouTube. For information-savvy minds, we have TED.com.
TED, short for Technology, Entertainment and Design, is owned by a private nonprofit organization called The Sapling Foundation. Founded in 1996, this Web site’s goal is to “foster the spread of great ideas” through video clips of the world’s “smartest thinkers, greatest visionaries and most-inspiring teachers.”
At first load, TED.com is graphically pleasing. Recently added videos are displayed in different square thumbnails, the clean Helvetica font in red, black and gray rules the page and links are easy to spot and are organized by popular demand. Videos about biomimicry, wireless electricity, iceberg loss and cymatics pop up as the mouse rolls over their thumbnails. By description, one would assume TED.com is a boring educational site. Yet most videos manage to achieve a good combination of entertainment and information. Speakers are not only intelligent, but usually personable people who know how to engage an audience. Most content relates to everyday life with at least one video communicating to every Internet user in the world. The video quality is excellent as well. Video selection is vast and updated frequently without bothersome advertising. While there is no user-generated content, viewers may register to comment and rate videos they watch. This also allows the creators to organize their videos based on the viewers’ interests.
But how does this nonprofit Web site run? Where are the seizure-inducing advertisements? At TED.com, there are no flashing credit score pop-ups or graphic weight-loss solution photos. TED videos simply show the logo of their sponsors beside the video and mention them quietly in the beginning of each clip so as not to distract viewers from the main attraction.
TED is an informative Web site that functions fluidly as an educational tool as well as an enjoyable online activity. After watching just one video, one’s cerebral side will surface once more from the dark depths of Internet video saturation.