Sunday, June 19, 2011

Topics of TED Talks

I today noticed on Twitter this link to the description of all TED Talks which have happened so far (16th June, 2011). Immediately, it looked like something worth looking (read: visualizing) into. So I did.

I created a wordle of the topics (after removing names of authors from some topics):
Topics of TED talks, created using wordle
The topics world, new, life and future clearly stand out, showing what TED is really about.

Another curious thing is the occurrence of the question words in the 969 descriptions of the talks:
Word Frequency
how 203
what 111
why 59
when 51
where 39

A remarkable thing shows up here, the word how occurs about 4 times (in about 20% talks) more often than the word why (which occurs in about 6% of the talks)! Granted that there might be some vagaries of the language involved here, but the difference is outright startling for me.

This gives some interesting food for thought, though. TED talks are more about how of things to do to the future, about solutions to current problems. They are less about the whys of the problems, the whys are still being worked out.

I'll leave you to chew on that.

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