How 24,000 TEDx Talk Ideas Link Together

One of the meta ideas that I have been thinking about for years now is how great ideas can appear from anywhere and sometimes these ideas overlap because of culture, education and our global mobility.

I know many of you who have extensive personal networks in more than one country or city and because of social media and other tech tools many of us carry on global conversations that cross pollinate on a daily basis.

Not all of these ideas will be developed but those which have greater global reach ( and perhaps better market potential) are ones we should focus on – but how to pick them. This talk shows us a way that visualisation technology can help us to do that.

The challenge with having so many ideas and conversations is that it is easy to get overwhelmed and that is where data visualisation can help. It is possible to mathmatically model these ideas using data visualisation software and tools of the kind that Quid (Sean’s company) has developed.

“What do 24,000 ideas look like? Ecologist Eric Berlow and physicist Sean Gourley apply algorithms to the entire archive of TEDx Talks, taking us on a stimulating visual tour to show how ideas connect globally.”

“So I want to just point out here that every node is a talk, they’re linked if they share similar ideas, and that comes from a machine reading of entire talk transcripts, and then all these topics that pop out, they’re not from tags and keywords. They come from the network structure of interconnected ideas.

I have written before about a number of talks by both Sean Gourley and Eric Berlow on this blog; most recently about a related talk Visualising the TEDx idea network

As Sean says at the end of the talk

“We’ve got ourselves in a world that’s massively complex, and we’ve been using algorithms to kind of filter it down so we can navigate through it. And those algorithms, whilst being kind of useful, are also very, very narrow, and we can do better than that, because we can realize that their complexity is not random.

It has mathematical structure, and we can use that mathematical structure to go and explore things like the world of ideas to see what’s being said, to see what’s not being said, and to be a little bit more human and, hopefully, a little smarter.”