In this interesting (although somewhat delusional) article, TED, or Technology Entertainment and Design, is praised to the point of being pointed out as some kind of university of the near future.
Although TED (which is a set of conferences with distinguished speakers about the most varied subjects) is, most of the time, very interesting and entertaining, the truth is that it is just that – some interesting insights from some truly outstanding (and some not so outstanding) people. To compare this to a university is just wishful thinking, both because (even though we can hear some interesting ideas by watching their conferences) TED is mostly composed of short bursts of flashy content with no real subjacent learning, and the content itself is not subject to the peer review and analysis of the scientific community present in any serious university.
I have, of course, watched a lot of TED Talks with interest and curiosity, and I’ve seen some great presentations there (but some very poor presentations as well, for good measure), but that doesn’t convert it instantaneously to a learning institution. However i have to say that TED has definitely its place in today’s world: it is a good place to see some though provoking presentations and some original ideas that will, without doubt, be important to shape tomorrow’s world. But to compare it to a top university is just delusional, regardless of how good the speakers are or the community is, because it lacks some of the fundamental parts of such an institution.