TEDtalks: A fascinating group of discussions, talks, and speeches from great thinkers

If you haven’t checked out TED.com, and you fancy yourself a thinker, you’re really missing out.

TED stands for Technology Entertainment Design.  It’s a conference that was started in 1984 that basically has amazing guests that speak on various thoughtful topics – originally focused on technology, entertainment and design but it’s since expanded it’s scope.

Take Barry Schwartz, a psychologist that discusses the benefit & issues of having more "choice" in a market place.

Video: TED: Barry Schwartz on the Paradox of Choice
(Taken from "Barry Schwartz on maximizing the welfare of citizens by maximizing individual freedoms"

Barry’s conclusion seems to be that providing people with choice is the best way to maximize the welfare of citizens of the world.  And choice in general is a good thing and the trend has been to provide as much choice as possible to consumers.  Empowering the individual allows the individual to take control of their lives in the most optimal fashion possible for their circumstance.

But he cautions that too much choice forces the individual to have too much responsibility, resulting in a natural state of "analysis paralysis" in humans.  The result is that people often choose, "not to choose" and retreat in fear of making choices.

He also states that "sky’s the limit" opportunity is usually a bad thing.  People with too many opportunities at their fingertips find themselves clinically depressed because their expectations are too high – after all, with all this opportunity available to them, how could a person NOT be an incredible success?  And when they find that they AREN’T, they become perpectually sad.

So he stresses a balance:  Some choice is good, too much choice is bad.  Some opportunity is good, but it needs to have limits to help a person define success.

BTW:  TED is free to view and to join.  Attendance at the conference in Monterey however is a $6000 affair.  Receiving the DVDs of the speeches annually is $1000.

BTW2:  There’s a blog of new talks that get posted at http://blog.ted.com/atom.xml.

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