The TEDx Phenomenon

Even though we live in an era where technology offers us any kind of information we want with the cost of just one single mouse click, people seem to lack knowledge more than they did a couple of decades ago. Why is this happening?

We can blame it on the fact that younger generations keep away from libraries and books. We can also blame it on the media, always on the run for the sensational, and, of course, there is the internet… the place where freedom shakes hands with snooping eyes. But really, why are there signals in the media about the fact that some youngsters grow up in the darkness of ignorance? As the Daily Telegraph claims it in a trending article, children grow up with a lack of role models.

According to Helen Wright, the president of the Girls’ Schools Association, children “during this journey through their lives, from being a baby to being an adult, need to develop more of a perspective on life and they gain that from trusted adults; be they school teachers, be they family members, be they people you work with in the community. That’s our socialization, that’s how we move through from childhood to adulthood and start to understand the world.”

The lack of role models in our society is something that people have looked upon from the last decades of the previous century and this is why in 1984, Richard Saul Wurman set the cornerstone for what would become a leading conference phenomenon that influences and inspires millions of people worldwide: the TED talks.


Originally, TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design) was an event that merged three different fields. In the first TED event, people witnessed a demo version of the compact disk, the e-book and also a couple of interesting 3D graphical revolutions presented by Lucasfilm. During this first event, mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot showed the attendees how to map coastlines by using fractal geometry. Though the themes presented at the first TED were very interesting, the event was not a financial success. It took 6 years for Wurman and his partner Harry Marks to do the event again. Now, however, times have changed.

In 1990, the TED conference held in California was a major success and it became an annual event. The number of attendees grew and although it was an invitation-only event, more and more people became interested in the themes that were being discussed at the TED talks.

A new era for the TED talks began in 2000, when Wurman decided it was time to find a successor for his project and approached new-media entrepreneur Chris Anderson. Anderson’s NGO Sapling Foundation acquired TED for £4m and soon TED became a world-wide phenomenon. Its purpose now goes beyond Technology, Entertainment and Design. It soon became a platform for “ideas worth spreading” meant to make the world a “smarter and better place”.

There have been numerous speakers at the conferences, some of them being world-famous personalities such as Bill Gates, Bono, Jamie Oliver, Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs, Richard Branson, Stephen Hawking, Julian Assange and many more. All the speakers are chosen by Anderson personally, as he also hosts the conferences and decides what talks go online.

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During the years of him being the TED curator, Anderson expanded the conference so that it covered all topics possible, including science, business and personal development. He built a Fellows program that now has over than 300 alumni and established the TED Prize which is being awarded to outstanding people that have “one wish to change the world”. In just a decade, TED went on a journey to become more than a conference. It is now a worldwide stage for thinkers and doers from many areas who share their ideas and make people dare for more.

In 2009 Anderson made TED a global brand. Now quite the star on the internet and throughout the world, Anderson took the motto “ideas worth spreading” to a whole new level. He introduced the TEDx initiative which offered TED licenses to organizers from all over the world so they can create their own TED events. Until now, there have been more than 8,000 events all over the world, generating an archive of over than 60,000 TEDx talks available on the internet.

In 2016, Oveit became a partner of TEDx Bucharest. A locally organized event, licensed by TED, TEDx Bucharest began its activities in 2009, aiming to make a positive impact on the development of the local and national community of thinkers and doers. The latest event, Women of Now, held on the 16th of June 2016, was a well received as it presented the local community a conference focused on the women of today: women who are mothers and daughters, best friends and role models but also business partners, top leaders, innovators and achievers.

The TED phenomenon is growing and necessary. In a world where the darkness of ignorance seems to be growing, every TED speaker is a beacon of light, a living proof that the future generations will not only have plenty of role models but eventually will grow up into becoming role models themselves.

Article written by .

Mike Dragan is the cofounder and CEO of Oveit and works daily on providing better tools for live experiences. Mike has a background in computer science and loves building digital products.

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