Mapping Ideas Worth Spreading

August 28, 2015.  Improve Your Presentations. Study the Best TED Speakers.

Eric Berlow & Sean Gourley: Mapping Ideas Worth Spreading.  How ideas connect globally.

How would you map 24,000 ideas—in 50 languages, from 147 countries?

That’s exactly what ecologist Eric Berlow and physicist Sean Gourley did—applying algorithms to the entire archive of TEDx talks from around the world to see how they may be connected.


Their fascinating analysis showed that the complexity of the ideas is not random—it has mathematical structure. They used this to simplify the highly complicated network of TED knowledge into a single network map.

140515 Mapping Ideas Globally Image

Global Footprint of TEDx Talks by Topic.

From this analysis they could categorize talks , and see which talks are the most important to men versus  women, young versus old—and how ideas are connected globally.

From a presentation point of view there are a number of interesting aspects worth noting in their TED talk—in particular how they handle the extraordinary complexity of their topic, and make it very accessible and engaging for the audience.

Eric Berlow. Ecologist known for his research on ecological complexity and for creative approaches to simplifying complex problems.

Sean Gourley. Physicist with an interest in politics, using data to understand the nature of human conflict.

Trond Varlid
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This article first appeared in the EMC Quest newsletter series.