5 Insightful TED Talks on Social Media

February 10, 2010

As social media has become a game changer for industries across the board, you can bet the experts at this year’s TED conference will have their sights set on peeling back the hype and getting at the core of what social technology has in store for this year and beyond.

Perhaps the best part of the TED conferences is that videos of the talks are archived and free to view right on the organization’s website. Given the wealth of insight we’re sure to see tomorrow, we thought we’d whet your appetite by highlighting a few recent and exceptional talks from TED’s past, with a focus on social media.

1. Alexis Ohanian: How To Make a Splash in Social Media

We’ll start things off with a real-life social media parable about how the biggest and most effective forces on the web usually take shape by accident. Alexis Ohanian of Reddit.com tells the quick and hilarious story of how the social web provided some unexpected help to Greenpeace in halting the Japanese whaling industry. Internet marketers take note: The meme is all powerful, and it cannot be controlled.

2. Clay Shirky: How Social Media Can Make History

In this talk, consultant, professor and author Clay Shirky discusses the unprecedented immediacy of real-time citizen journalism made possible by social media and the nearly ubiquitous access to mobile web technologies. From the election crisis in Iran to the massive earthquake that shook China in May of 2008, Shirky discusses how media is made on the ground, as-it-happens, via the social web.

3. Evan Williams: Listening to Twitter Users

With a couple of anecdotes building the ultimate social media case study, Twitter co-founder Evan Williams discusses how a little side project called Twitter became a game-changing phenomenon with the help and input of the very users who made the service a success. From innovative marketing uses to core functionality, Williams provides the evidence for what we knew all along: Users know best.

4. Stefana Broadbent: How the Internet Enables Intimacy

As social media changes our social lives, speculation has abounded for years on how the web may be disconnecting us from intimate interactions in favor of meaningless quests to rack up followers and “friends.” Not so, says Stefana Broadbent, who explains that social networks function the same way online as they do in real life. While we may have lots of friends, we only really communicate regularly and meaningfully with a handful of them, and social technologies like e-mail, texting, and tweeting allow us to do so more often across time and space.

5. Seth Godin: The Tribes We Lead

From professional sports mascots to balloon animal makers, some communities are so extremely niche that they could only properly thrive on the Internet. So argues blogger and author Seth Godin, who believes that our revolutionary new connectedness has brought human culture back to its roots, and that tribes (groups of people mobilized around a shared interest) are the present and future of all web content.

(from mashable)

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