Anya Kamenentz disagrees, proving my point in the process. TED, like her post, peddles a complacent, superficial, nauseatingly saccharine view of the world. It impresses those it impresses – lifestyle liberals – by systematically confirming their prejudices. Prejudices here on display:
[I]f you were starting a top university today, what would it look like? You would start by gathering the very best minds from around the world, from every discipline. Since we’re living in an age of abundant, not scarce, information, you’d curate the lectures carefully, with a focus on the new and original, rather than offer a course on every possible topic. You’d create a sustainable economic model by focusing on technological rather than physical infrastructure, and by getting people of means to pay for a specialized experience. You’d also construct a robust network so people could access resources whenever and from wherever they like, and you’d give them the tools to collaborate beyond the lecture hall. Why not fulfill the university’s millennium-old mission by sharing ideas as freely and as widely as possible
If you did all that, well, you’d have TED.
Its “faculty”: A roster of speakers that runs from Bill Clinton to J.J. Abrams, from Desmond Tutu to Isabel Allende — anyone who’s driving change across the globe.
The buzzwords alone bespeak lifestyle liberalism: an “age of abundant information,” “sustainable economic model” “robust network,” “collaboration,” “sharing ideas as freely and widely as possible,” “driving change across the globe,” yack, yack, yack.
The content is equally bad. Why think “the very best minds from around the world” equate to “anyone who’s driving change across the globe”? What a… complacent, superficial, nauseatingly saccharine view of the world. Even taking “drive change” in its ordinary sense, it would seem a wild coincidence that all demagogues are intellectual giants. Of course, given that “drive change” means, in TEDspeak, “talk a lot of mainstream liberal boilerplate,” what Ms. K actually asserts is that the very best minds from around the world are those minds full of liberal bromides.
A terrifying thought – albeit flattering to Ms. K. But I hope, and I think Ms. K also hopes (though she’s let her slogans lure her to the contrary view), that the next set of top universities don’t operate on the presupposition that one ideological group (and especially not milquetoast liberals) has a monopoly on intelligence.