Earlier this week started the presidential debates in America, and if you ask me, this stuff makes fantastic television.
What could be more interesting than watching two people compete for the most powerful (or even possibly, most famous) position in the world?
In case you missed it, you can find it here on Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dkrwUU_YApE
So I checked TED to see what we had in debate technology. Did we have master debaters or were all these talks solo entertainment?
Behold! TED had a debate on it, about nuclear power.
Date Filmed: June 2010
Length: 23 minutes
Total Views so far:520, 438
One Sentence Summary: “A debate on whether we need nuclear energy or can we use something else?”
This is the first debate on TED, and from what I can tell, it is the last. Why is this? Is it because it’s incredibly boring?
Y’know what? YES, it is incredibly boring. At least in comparison to the warm hearted stories, the enlightening of new technologies and all that stuff TED that just makes you go “wooooahhhh”.
On the other hand, this is only completely true if you ignore one factor, that you hate debates.
There’s some other interesting aspects that this TED talk covers, it actually takes a quick poll of the audience beforehand. This is the first time I’ve seen a polling of the audience like that, and it would be an interesting experiment if they this kind of polling was taken before every TED talk to see how much the audience knew of the subject manner.
Brand begins with a rather good start that includes both humor and solid presentation.
Jacobson then swings back and begins a solid attack of what nuclear energy provides versus alternative solutions and he demystifies some of the ‘setbacks’ that are commonly associated with renewable wind/solar energy.
Much like presidential debates, where there is a tipping point where the bouncing back and forth between sides and a slight loss of focus, it quickly becomes fuddled on who was talking about what.
This happened to me the moment it went to the audience, and even though it’s clearly identified if they were for or against, some of their responses just don’t seem to be directly in line.
On the other hand, why is there so many people who are so into nuclear power at a TED Talk? The people who spoke up, not only were thoroughly educated on the subject but they were a step away from getting out of their seats and joining the people on stage.
I think there were plants in the audience! And not the green type of plants either!
In a manner that is not surprising however, was a slight shift in votes at the end where it was a 65/35 in favor of needing nuclear energy.
Although it was a small shift, it shows that debate actually makes an impact on it’s viewers.
Brand definitely seemed more comfortable presenting than Jacobson but it could be that Jacobson isn’t the kind of guy that makes jokes in debates.
Today, I wonder if the argument against nuclear energy would include the tsunami disaster in March 2011. Likewise, every year people appear to become more disassociated with environmental activism so would appealing to that factor be less impacting?
Today more than ever, the need for energy is more recognized than how it’s attained. Both presidential candidates argued for more energy earlier this week, and when there’s an identified need, the answer of ‘all of the above’ makes sense.
I hope TED talks include more debates in the future but the side effect of debate is to marginalize opposing views, and that isn’t what the TED Talks is about.
The first and foremost concept of TED is to share ideas, to put knowledge into the hands of those who are willing to share it.
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