Mapping ideaspace


What’s the recipe for an idea worth spreading? Ecologist Eric Berlow and physicist Sean Gourley realized that they were sharing the same ideas before they even met. They decided to analyze thousands of data points worth of TED Talks in search for the magic formula of an idea worth spreading.

What are ideas made of?

Berlow and Gourley took a mathematical approach to this question and analyzed the connections between the top 25% of TED Talks, to find out the common denominator of ideas worth spreading. Ideas borrow from each other and they build on each other. So, there is some wisdom to be found in analyzing the concept of ideas and the way they spread. They were able to extract key concepts of the Talks in question, and even found a name for the mathematical structure of an idea: “the meme-ome”.

Berlow and Gourley pulled all the information they needed for their research from YouTube, since there’s a lot of insight waiting to be discovered publicly available, especially in the comment section. They also datamined the text transcripts of the respective talks to scan them for frequently used words. This way they were able to map all the conversations that were going on in the world. At least, within the TED community.

Worth spreading

Berlow and Gourleys Talk left me wondering about the “worth spreading” quality of ideas. “The only people in the world who can change things are those who can sell ideas.” advertiser Lois Wyse said. So, what is it that makes an idea worth spreading?

An idea isn’t worth spreading by itself. What makes it worth spreading doesn’t only lie in the quality of the idea, but just as much in the quality of its presentation. That’s what TED is all about: presenting ideas in a way that makes people listen. An idea worth spreading is just as much defined by its content as it is by its packaging.

Find out more about ideaspace here…

 

Header Image credits royalty free
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About Verena Ehrnberger

Verena works as a data privacy legal expert and studies philosophy at the University of Vienna. Always juggling multiple projects, she is seriously addicted to coffee.

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