TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) conferences are renowned the world over for giving people with big ideas a platform by which to spread them. The conferences are also criticized by some who say they are all talk, no action. The popularity of the conferences led to a spinoff, TEDx, whereby communities can hold independent events with speakers of their choosing. In what may be a first, in Philadelphia this past weekend, a TEDx event was pranked. Comedian Sam Hyde, of the group Million Dollar Extreme, was able to fool organizers of the TEDx event at Drexel University into thinking he was a journalist who had just returned from Mogadishu, and they let him conclude the conference with his piece "The 2070 Paradigm Shift."
Little did organizers know, the 16-minute speech was a satirical take on the "big ideas" speech given by many TED speakers. And boy, did it ramble. Hyde haphazardly jumped from topic to topic — some of it was funny, and some, from the dead silence in the audience, was plain cringe-worthy. One facet of the prank that didn't quite go along with Hyde's intent was that a presentation lampooning TED talks in general wouldn't necessarily be poorly received by its organizers. This might lead people to believe that the people running the show at Drexel were in on the joke, although a chat posted by Hyde to Pastebin proves otherwise. Regardless of its effectiveness, people on YouTube enjoyed it, posting comments like "he is the next Nostradamus" and "Brilliant Speech!" As for Hyde's reason for doing it? He told Philadelphia magazine, "I don't think TED talks are cool. I don't want it to sound too sanctimonious, but I think [TED talks are] really self-congratulatory."