Did you know that now you can not only watch, but also 'read' TED talks? TEDxBrussels talked to Dirk Remmerie about the innovative project turning talks into books and allowing one to dig deeper into ideas. 

1/  More than 1 billion people watched TED talks on the Internet, what's the added value of the books? 

The aim of TED is to reach out to an audience as broad as possible. Reason why many of the talks are subtitled, some of them even in Dutch. By adding a new - some would say an ‘old’ -  medium to the message, we are targeting both the people who already know TED and an additional group of fans.

Those who already have seen the talks leading to the books, will discover an even more profound elaboration of the strong idea they experienced on stage. The books are not a one-on-one translation of the same story. You don’t read what you saw, you read a new story that offers new insights and raises relevant questions.

Our aim is also to find a new audience. TED is well known, that’s for sure, but there’s certainly new ground to cover. The publishing company, Davidsfonds Uitgeverij, is part of a cultural organisation with quite some tradition and over 40.000 members in Flanders. Those members are known to have great interest in culture, history, the arts and language. With the Dutch edition of the TED books we like to broaden the scope of the books we are offering them and add new themes to an interested and ambitious readership.

2/ What are the three best lessons for the Deeper Future you have learned from TED books?

Lesson 1. Stay humble. We may stand on the verge of great technological breakthroughs of all kind. We may think we are freethinkers with unprecedented access to data that can change our lives and the way we look at ourselves. But nonetheless: if you let mathematics analyze or doings, we seem to be more predictable than we would like to. Or how to explain that the right logarithms can even predict something as ephemeral as your love life? In all the turmoil, the old Greek adagium still remains: know yourself.

Lesson 2. How great to already contradict Lesson 1 in Lesson 2! Lesson 2 is: we always have a choice. We are not destined/obliged to become a result of circumstances. In ‘De zoon van een terrorist’ (The terrorist’s son) – alas a more pressing topic than anyone would like it to be – Zak Ibrahim, who was raised in a very extreme intolerant environment, remembers and fosters the idea that he is not defined by his descent but is shaped by the way he acts himself.

Lesson 3. Combines Lesson 1 and Lesson 2. Great things may await us. Technology and science may open up a world where we could live on Mars. Where we could live in good health for a longer time anyone ever imagined. New business insights may open up a world with great jobs - not because of the money, but because they shape who we are and who we aim to be. And yet, there will always be the basic longing for seemingly simple things like ‘stillness’. Head in the clouds, feet rooted in the ground.

3/ If there was one book you would recommend to people what would it be and why?  

It would be ‘Waarom we werken’ (Why we work) by Barry Schwartz. The main thesis is: if we work because we need the paycheck, why are so many people who get paid unhappy with their jobs? And why is it a myth that people who get paid better, deliver better results? Especially in times of disruption, we should reconsider the way we look at work, at the fundamentals of our economy and ask the question: how do work and our economy add to our happiness, to our humanity?

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