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One of the satirical threads in Where’d You Go, Bernadette? is that Bernadette’s husband, Elgin Branch has given the “fourth-most-watched TED talk” on his innovative Samantha 2 brain-computer interface project.
So it made me wonder – what is actually the fourth most watched TED talk? In case you’re not familiar with TED, it’s an acronym for Technology, Entertainment, and Design and is an organization devoted to ‘ideas worth sharing’. TED Talks, given at two annual conferences and many other places, are up to 18 minutes long and can cover anything loosely connected to T, E or D. The best are posted online at TED Talks. You can filter them down by length, topic, ratings and language, so, for example, a three-minute, funny, entertainment talk is a surprisingly useful one on tying your shoelaces correctly.
Maria Semple, Bernadette’s author, has actually been to TED conferences, back in 2007 and 2008. As well as being familiar with the idea of them, her experiences also enabled her to capture the peripheral details that make her description of Elgin’s talk so funny. You can read a sample of the ‘live blog’ of Elgin’s talk to get the picture.
And here is the list of the most watched TED Talks of all time – turns out Steve Jobs is at number four, though I think Pranav Mistry’s SixthSense technology, at numbers 5 and 8 looks most like Samantha 2.