Chris Anderson: "TED wants to be a messy brand"

Last month, our ‘inspirator-in-chief’ Chris Anderson was in Amsterdam for the TED Talent Search. A great opportunity to speak with him about TED’s ‘radical openness’, his thoughts about TEDxAmsterdam and the future of TED.

TED curator Chris Anderson paid a visit to Amsterdam to host the ‘TED Salon’. The salon is one of the newest TED kids on the block and is part of the¬†talent search that was started to spot young, wise and undiscovered speakers for the stage of TED 2013. Let’s listen to the master himself:

Radical openness

“The Talent Search is the logical next step in a process of opening up TED”, adds Chris Anderson. Under the motto ‘Ideas Worth Spreading’, TED found a worldwide audience over the last six or seven years. TED started sharing videos online, launched an open translation project and started the TEDx programme. “This year, we decided to open up the speaker curation process. The theme for next year is ‘the young, the wise, the undiscovered’ and we made a conscious effort to go out to different cities in the world and find new voices.”

Chris Anderson answering questions of TEDxAmsterdam team members. Photo: Melody Rae.

Chris Anderson answering TEDxAmsterdam team members' questions. Photo: Melody Rae.

Chris is not afraid that this new attitude of ‘radical openness’, as he defines it, will jeopardise the coherent message of TED. “We want to be a messy brand. Ideas are messy.” To the contrary, TEDx organisers have brought an amazing level of dedication and new ideas to their events, and TEDxAmsterdam is no exception. “With new elements brought in by TEDxAmsterdam and others, back at the TED headquarters we feel we have something to learn.”

The future of TED

Finally, what everybody is curious about: what will TED look like in ten years?¬†What new great projects can we expect? Chris Anderson does not really know the answer: “We don’t have a roadmap for the future. TED is not a top-down organisation, like a factory. Instead, we navigate by compass, not by map. We aren’t the controllers of the TEDx events, but we nurture an ecosystem. My job is that of a gardener, maybe planting a few seeds and pulling out a few weeds, but mostly to step back in amazement as this beautiful thing grows. What TED looks like in ten years is as much decided by TEDxAmsterdam as by the TED Headquarters.”