Tuesday, 22 March 2011

TED UPDATE. Bill Gates and the one man ovation

It's getting bigger.

The new batch of TED speeches are out there and words are not ready for the onslaught of revelations.

Future-facing media people are even now having new adjectives developed to describe them.

Future-scoping, thought-nurturing, awesometric concepts are on their way.

Concepts so innovative and mesmerising you'd need a field of stricken Carl Sagans to gawp at them.

Swooning media-commentators are mouthing half-formed imprecations of cosmic idolatry at their Ipad2 screens.

'Light needs darkness,'  Rogier Van de Heide tells us.   It's a sentiment I could buy  as Beverly Hills clothes shop philosophy, but as 'a riveting idea from a remarkable person, free to the world', it's right up there with 'nothing brings out the taste of cheese like a cracker.'

'No one was a hero, because everyone was a hero' says some Egyptian guy as he brought month-old news of the Egyptian revolution to us, unaware of the irony as he sucked up all the TED credit.

How about Deb Roy and his 'Natural Longitudinal Data'?  What is that, you ask?  It's video.   The fellow filmed his family from pinhole cameras over what seems like forever.  'The longest home video ever'. Big laugh, though why calling it its proper name should be funny, I don't know.

In this way the audience maintains the pretense that what an idiot does with 50 year old technology is in any way awe-worthy.

David Brooks 'taps into the insights in his latest book'  goes the hype for a talk entitled 'The Social animal'.  The excitement to be generated by a man's familiarity with his own recent publication can only be imagined.

So against the spectacle of a social media guru sustaining himself on his own lactated guff, it was thoroughly pleasant  to watch Bill Gates at work.

Did he imagineer a future?  Did he time-sculpt ? Did he posit cultural memes?  Did he aspire to world of social animals emoting hope and expressing their communities in wireless clouds of mind-scat?

Nope. Bill Gates knows how the world works.  He would have taken a phone call from Mr TED asking him to appear. 

'What's it about?'

'Well, Bill, it's about inspiring the next generation,  celebrating the opportunities offered by new technology bringing about benign change'.

Pause, while Bill makes a note, then...

Bill Gates
'OK.'  See you Thursday.

He would have then wondered how to achieve that. Not at how the whole future of technology can be attributed to him. He's got that. He knows that mind-bending space-twaddle doesn't solve problems. He just looked at some data and figured out a way to improve the future.

Come Thursday,  Bill Gates tips up in his best woolly jumper and stands centre stage like a badger making apologies for the absence of a Russian Dance troop.

He then makes an unfussy, finance director's speech about the abject mismanagement of California's education budget. 

Ha! He talked common sense reality at a TED conference.  And they couldn't arrest him for breaking TED rules because he's Bill Gates, right?

He had full grasp of his data, and studiously took the audience through the issue, leaving no one in any doubt as to what needed to be done and the immense improvements that would follow.

Standing ovations are usually obligatory at TED,  but not for this feat of inappropriate behaviour.  The responses was muted, confused even.  He might as well have read out a knitting pattern for all the sense he made to the bullshit seekers.

But watching the video (sorry, the natural longitudinal data) we just have time to glimpse one chubby man on his feet in a centre aisle, clapping like seal over the side of its pool. A seal who'd obviously been asleep the whole time and just assumed he'd missed something vaguely inspiring about nothing in particular.

1 comment:

Francis said...

Rejoice, rejoice. At last an enlightened individual who can see TED for what it truly is: a vacuous exercise in flim-flam and puffery. Worshipping at its altar has become the sine qua non of the modern junior adman; I am thankful there are leaders who still think.