The reflections in this article are a result of my explorations with rethinking education and development over the past 20 years. They were part of a talk delivered in Lisbon, Portugal.
Some symptoms of TEDxitis — the disease of watching too many TED talks*
10. They are content being cocktail party/message board fans and critics; they hesitate to start things themselves (outside of digital platforms) because they hold a deep fear of failure
9. They always looking for readymade perfect glossy projects and unable to deal with contradictions, hypocrises and shadows when they get closer to real projects and people; they tend to become critical, then cynical very easily
8. They become too ‘big picture’ and not wanting to do all the small mundane things, particularly when it comes to getting their hands dirty
7. Their happiness becomes dependent on the number of facebook likes they receive and not on their own internal motivation, values and satisfaction; their language revolves around the discourse of ‘likes’
6. They get caught up in the pressure and dogma of wanting to only work on projects that are easier to ‘scale up’ and speed up; they lose sight of and value for what is appropriate human scale/localization and slow processes
5. They fall into a cult of big hero/rockstar worship and don’t appreciate the efforts of small local ‘invisible’ everyday heroes and their small acts
4. They continually criticize efforts for not being ‘clear’, ‘well-organized’ and ‘well-planned’ and are unable to deal with chaos and emergence
3. They believe change happens through polished rational, objective, formal presentations rather than iterative informal conversations, unlearning and immersions
2. They arrogantly think they really ‘know’ and understand something after seeing a 15 minute video on it and tend to lack humility or patience to take time and understand things in more depth
1. They reproduce a strong framework of technological utopianism and progress and lack critical frames for viewing technology, speed and efficiency; they believe that we just ‘use’ tools and are unwilling to entertain the possibility that the tools might be ‘using’ us.
* The point is not to critique any specific people or group but to look more closely at a particular tool/framework for social innovation and technology, and a particular culture of response that it has generated. The TEDx phenomenon is now 6–7 yrs old and it is good to reflect on how it has shaped our thinking.