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  • If nothing else, at least I've discovered

  • what it is we put our speakers through:

  • sweaty palms, sleepless nights,

  • a wholly unnatural fear of clocks.

  • I mean, it's quite brutal.

  • And I'm also a little nervous about this.

  • There are nine billion humans coming our way.

  • Now, the most optimistic dreams

  • can get dented by the prospect

  • of people plundering the planet.

  • But recently, I've become intrigued

  • by a different way of thinking of large human crowds,

  • because there are circumstances

  • where they can do something really cool.

  • It's a phenomenon that I think

  • any organization or individual can tap into.

  • It certainly impacted the way we think about TED's future,

  • and perhaps the world's future overall.

  • So, let's explore.

  • The story starts with just a single person,

  • a child, behaving a little strangely.

  • This kid is known online as Lil Demon.

  • He's doing tricks here, dance tricks,

  • that probably no six-year-old in history ever managed before.

  • How did he learn them?

  • And what drove him to spend the hundreds of hours of practice

  • this must have taken?

  • Here's a clue.

  • (Video) Lil Demon: ♫ Step your game up. Oh. Oh. ♫

  • Step your game up. Oh. Oh. ♫

  • Chris Anderson: So, that was sent to me by this man,

  • a filmmaker, Jonathan Chu,

  • who told me that was the moment he realized

  • the Internet was causing dance to evolve.

  • This is what he said at TED in February.

  • In essence,

  • dancers were challenging each other online to get better;

  • incredible new dance skills were being invented;

  • even the six-year-olds were joining in.

  • It felt like a revolution.

  • And so Jon had a brilliant idea:

  • He went out to recruit the best of the best dancers

  • off of YouTube

  • to create this dance troupe --

  • The League of Extraordinary Dancers, the LXD.

  • I mean, these kids were web-taught,

  • but they were so good that they got to play at the Oscars this year.

  • And at TED here in February,

  • their passion and brilliance just took our breath away.

  • So, this story

  • of the evolution of dance

  • seems strangely familiar.

  • You know, a while after TEDTalks started taking off,

  • we noticed that speakers

  • were starting to spend a lot more time in preparation.

  • It was resulting in incredible new talks like these two.

  • ... Months of preparation

  • crammed into 18 minutes,

  • raising the bar cruelly for the next generation of speakers,

  • with the effects that we've seen this week.

  • It's not as if J.J. and Jill

  • actually ended their talks saying, "Step your game up,"

  • but they might as well have.

  • So, in both of these cases,

  • you've got these cycles of improvement,

  • apparently driven

  • by people watching web video.

  • What is going on here?

  • Well, I think it's the latest iteration of a phenomenon we can call

  • "crowd-accelerated innovation."

  • And there are just three things you need for this thing to kick into gear.

  • You can think of them

  • as three dials on a giant wheel.

  • You turn up the dials, the wheel starts to turn.

  • And the first thing you need is ... a crowd,

  • a group of people who share a common interest.

  • The bigger the crowd,

  • the more potential innovators there are.

  • That's important, but actually most people in the crowd

  • occupy these other roles.

  • They're creating the ecosystem

  • from which innovation emerges.

  • The second thing you need is light.

  • You need clear, open visibility

  • of what the best people in that crowd are capable of,

  • because that is how you will learn

  • how you will be empowered to participate.

  • And third, you need desire.

  • You know, innovation's hard work.

  • It's based on hundreds of hours of research, of practice.

  • Absent desire, not going to happen.

  • Now, here's an example -- pre-Internet --

  • of this machine in action.

  • Dancers at a street corner --

  • it's a crowd, a small one,

  • but they can all obviously see what each other can do.

  • And the desire part comes, I guess,

  • from social status, right?

  • Best dancer walks tall, gets the best date.

  • There's probably going to be some innovation happening here.

  • But on the web,

  • all three dials are ratcheted right up.

  • The dance community is now global.

  • There's millions connected.

  • And amazingly,

  • you can still see what the best can do,

  • because the crowd itself shines a light on them,

  • either directly, through comments, ratings,

  • email, Facebook, Twitter,

  • or indirectly,

  • through numbers of views,

  • through links that point Google there.

  • So, it's easy to find the good stuff,

  • and when you've found it, you can watch it in close-up repeatedly

  • and read what hundreds of people have written about it.

  • That's a lot of light.

  • But the desire element

  • is really dialed way up.

  • I mean, you might just be a kid with a webcam,

  • but if you can do something that goes viral,

  • you get to be seen by the equivalent

  • of sports stadiums crammed with people.

  • You get hundreds of strangers writing excitedly about you.

  • And even if it's not that eloquent -- and it's not --

  • it can still really make your day.

  • So, this possibility

  • of a new type of global recognition,

  • I think, is driving huge amounts of effort.

  • And it's important to note that it's not just the stars who are benefiting:

  • because you can see the best, everyone can learn.

  • Also, the system is self-fueling.

  • It's the crowd that shines the light and fuels the desire,

  • but the light and desire are a lethal one-two combination

  • that attract new people to the crowd.

  • So, this is a model

  • that pretty much any organization could use

  • to try and nurture its own cycle

  • of crowd-accelerated innovation.

  • Invite the crowd, let in the light,

  • dial up the desire.

  • And the hardest part about that is probably the light,

  • because it means you have to open up,

  • you have to show your stuff to the world.

  • It's by giving away what you think is your deepest secret

  • that maybe millions of people

  • are empowered to help improve it.

  • And, very happily, there's one class of people

  • who really can't make use of this tool.

  • The dark side of the web

  • is allergic to the light.

  • I don't think we're going to see terrorists, for example,

  • publishing their plans online and saying to the world,

  • "Please, could you help us to actually

  • make them work this time?"

  • But you can publish your stuff online.

  • And if you can get that wheel to turn,

  • look out.

  • So, at TED,

  • we've become a little obsessed with this idea of openness.

  • In fact, my colleague, June Cohen, has taken to calling it "radical openness,"

  • because it works for us each time.

  • We opened up our talks to the world,

  • and suddenly there are millions of people out there

  • helping spread our speakers' ideas,

  • and thereby making it easier for us

  • to recruit and motivate the next generation of speakers.

  • By opening up our translation program,

  • thousands of heroic volunteers --

  • some of them watching online right now, and thank you! --

  • have translated our talks

  • into more than 70 languages,

  • thereby tripling our viewership in non-English-speaking countries.

  • By giving away our TEDx brand,

  • we suddenly have a thousand-plus

  • live experiments in the art of spreading ideas.

  • And these organizers,

  • they're seeing each other, they're learning from each other.

  • We are learning from them.

  • We're getting great talks back from them.

  • The wheel is turning.

  • Okay, step back a minute.

  • I mean, it's really not news for me to tell you

  • that innovation emerges out of groups.

  • You know, we've heard that this week --

  • this romantic notion of the lone genius

  • with the "eureka!" moment that changes the world

  • is misleading.

  • Even he said that, and he would know.

  • We're a social species.

  • We spark off each other.

  • It's also not news

  • to say that the Internet has accelerated innovation.

  • For the past 15 years,

  • powerful communities have been connecting online,

  • sparking off each other.

  • If you take programmers,

  • you know, the whole open-source movement

  • is a fantastic instance of crowd-accelerated innovation.

  • But what's key here is,

  • the reason these groups have been able to connect

  • is because their work output is of the type

  • that can be easily shared digitally --

  • a picture, a music file,

  • software.

  • And that's why what I'm excited about,

  • and what I think is under-reported,

  • is the significance of the rise

  • of online video.

  • This is the technology

  • that's going to allow the rest of the world's talents to be shared digitally,

  • thereby launching a whole new cycle

  • of crowd-accelerated innovation.

  • The first few years of the web

  • were pretty much video-free,

  • for this reason: video files are huge; the web couldn't handle them.

  • But in the last 10 years,

  • bandwidth has exploded a hundredfold.

  • Suddenly, here we are.

  • Humanity watches 80 million hours of YouTube every day.

  • Cisco actually estimates that, within four years,

  • more than 90 percent of the web's data will be video.

  • If it's all puppies, porn and piracy,

  • we're doomed.

  • I don't think it will be.

  • Video is high-bandwidth for a reason.

  • It packs a huge amount of data,

  • and our brains are uniquely wired to decode it.

  • Here, let me introduce you to Sam Haber.

  • He's a unicyclist.

  • Before YouTube,

  • there was no way for him to discover

  • his sport's true potential,

  • because you can't communicate this stuff in words, right?

  • But looking at video clips posted by strangers,

  • a world of possibility opens up for him.

  • Suddenly, he starts to emulate and then to innovate.

  • And a global community of unicyclists discover each other online,

  • inspire each other to greatness.

  • And there are thousands of other examples of this happening --

  • of video-driven evolution of skills,

  • ranging from the physical to the artful.

  • And I have to tell you,

  • as a former publisher of hobbyist magazines,

  • I find this strangely beautiful.

  • I mean, there's a lot of passion right here on this screen.

  • But if Rube Goldberg machines

  • and video poetry aren't quite your cup of tea,

  • how about this.

  • Jove is a website

  • that was founded to encourage scientists

  • to publish their peer-reviewed research

  • on video.

  • There's a problem with a traditional scientific paper.

  • It can take months for a scientist in another lab

  • to figure out how to replicate the experiments

  • that are described in print.

  • Here's one such frustrated scientist,

  • Moshe Pritsker, the founder of Jove.

  • He told me that the world is wasting

  • billions of dollars on this.