Yet as I listened to the talks at TEDxPittsburgh, I came to an interesting conclusion. Ideas are really hard. What I mean by that is that while the production value and public speaking skills of the TEDx speakers were definitely well polished, if I dug down into the actual ideas that were being delivered, they were all a) rather generic and b) nothing but hadn't been proposed before. Don't get me wrong, most of the speakers spoke about their own personal professional work, which was very impressive, but when you actually got to the meat of what they wanted us to understand, there are often wasn't much there. One speaker spoke about his personal struggles growing up… But the only real message was "don't be a bully" or rather "be nice." The second speaker spoke about her work with helping the poor and finding ways to reuse discarded items. A great project and an excellent professional goal, but the message? "Donate things please". Another top was about respect… Which is a great idea… But is it doable? Is there anybody that thinks that we shouldn't have respect for people? Does just telling people "have respect for people "solve the problem or is that a very layered issue that requires a lot more conversation? I don't mean to be critical of any of these talks, as I said they were certainly entertaining and there were certainly a number of very devoted and professional individuals giving, but at the heart of the talk it seemed that there weren't too many "new "ideas. As Chris Anderson has suggested, you always have to think "is this idea worth spreading?" And many of the ideas I heard today, while well stated, and well-intentioned, probably weren't. They were either specific to individuals organizations, or they were things that we had already heard before.
So what's the message? I think it's at ideas are hard. I don't blame any of the speakers are having generic ideas, they are certainly ones that are valued in decent player large role in the community, but they weren't really new. Maybe there aren't any new ideas at all. Maybe all we can do is talk about applications of old ideas and new places. Regardless I think I have a little bit more frame of reference when it comes to helping future TED speakers ideas for their talks. Sometimes even the best in the region are just doing variations on a theme.