TED 2011: An Idea Worth Spreading

My curated list of recommended TED Talks and TEDU Talks from this year's conference is posted at Jack Myers ThinkTank.

TED 2011 was far more than an annual conference, which I've been attending for nearly 20 years. TED is more than the TEDActive satellite event and multiple live webcasts in homes, offices, conference centers and even aboard the International Space Station. It's more than TED Talks and TEDU Talks where hundreds of millions of people globally are viewing nearly a thousand videos translated into more than 80 languages, with another 80 in development. It's more than the independently organized TEDx events that are springing up like wildflowers throughout the U.S. and across the globe. TED is more than the TED Prize, this year granted to artist JR, or TED Conversations or the TED Community. And TED is more than Ideas Worth Spreading, the equity around which the TED brand evolves.

TED is the role model for media companies of the future. Passionate and loyal followers pay significant annual membership fees for premium access, underwriting free global online access to most TED content. As TED members, we pay for the privilege of being part of a community, but more to the point, we pay to underwrite global free access to Ideas Worth Spreading. TED is the voice that creates global visibility for those who are engaged in making the world a more civil, safe, healthy and viable place, although on occasion that description is debatable. TED is a respectful community, though, that offers an open opportunity to share views as divergent as my TEDU Talks on Life After Death, Bill Gates' talk on State Budgets a Hoax, and geobiochemist Felisa Wolfe-Simon's TEDTalks on Arsenic in DNA.

TED is a media company that identifies, aggregates and communicates a diverse and eclectic collection of Ideas Worth Spreading from many of the world's most intellectual, creative, inspiring, and achieving individuals.

Legacy media companies and emerging content creators are struggling to define relevant business models for the future. TED is a role model. TED itself is an idea worth spreading. Passionate and loyal fans, users, supporters and advocates are willing to pay for content in which they believe, although most of that content is free. They knowingly and willingly underwrite free distribution to those apparent masses who value intellectually and emotionally stimulating content but are unable or unwilling to pay a fee to gain access. Importantly, TED delivers this content with no advertising.

Marketers so value this TED audience that they, too, are willing to pay significant sponsorship fees for limited access to them and for brand association with TED. For the first time at this year's TED, a new initiative identifying "Ads Worth Spreading" was introduced. There were more representatives of the marketing, advertising and media worlds this year. But the role of advertising as a meaningful and valuable contributor to humanity was not yet fully on display. Initiatives throughout the next year will increase awareness of Ads Worth Spreading. Increased participation should follow as the TED Brand Value becomes better understood among marketers, their agencies and the media community. TED has quickly emerged as one of the most important resources for improving global perceptions of advertising as a positive force and important profession, reversing decades of next-to-bottom rankings.

Several of this year's TED Talks are worth noting and should be viewed as soon as they are made available (most within the next week) at www.TED.com.

In this week's (subscriber-only) Jack Myers Media Business Report, I report in detail on Bluefin Labs' www.bluefinlabs.com new artificial intelligence system that tracks television content, marries it to what's being said in social media streams and then creates a link between the two. Morgan Spurlock regaled TED attendees with a behind-the-scenes look at the making of his new branded entertainment-funded film, The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, a film fully funded by branded entertainment. See Michael Kassan and Bobby Friedman as you never have before!

My curated list of recommended TED Talks and TEDU Talks from this year's conference are posted at Jack Myers ThinkTank. Watch Steve Rosenbaum's Photo Album from TED here.

Jack Myers can be reached at Jack@mediadvisorygroup.com. JackMyersThinkTank is free and underwritten, as part of MediaBizBloggers.com, by subscriptions to Jack Myers Media Business Report (www.jackmyers.com). Subscribe free to all MediaBizBloggers reports at www.MediaBizBloggers. For Jack Myers Media Business Report subscription information visit www.myersreport.com or contact Jack Myers at Jack@mediadvisorygroup.com. Jack Myers and Media Advisory Group provide details on all underwriters and companies in which we have an investment at www.jackmyers.com. This commentary was originally posted at www.jackmyers.com