|This large potted plant, shown here being mistaken for a speaker at TEDxSanAntonio, has a book coming out in the Fall.|
"Computer models have consistently put peak speaker somewhere in the early part of next decade," TED curator Chris Anderson explained. "That's the point where the maximum extraction rate of speakers is reached, after which we enter a decline from which we can't recover. By 2050, there just won't be any people left who haven't already spoken at one of our conferences. At that point, we'll become cannibals as the remnants of our species struggle to survive the breakdown of society and culture."
Many are placing the blame for the looming shortage of conference participants on the rapid expansion of quality conferences, the most egregious example being TEDx. Expansion, it is believed, is diluting the international pool of interesting speakers. Designed to foster a conversation about a variety of new ideas in individual communities, it quickly became clear that the bar for TEDx acceptance was set far too low in order to fill an ever increasing number of speaking slots.
"The original focus of TED and similar conferences was to encourage the sharing of "ideas worth spreading," sociologist Leather Handsome revealed. "With the development of extensions like TEDx, conference attendees are lucky to hear ideas with vowels. Seriously, one guy just grunted for ten minutes at TEDxOslo."
With thousands of these independently organized TED-like events taking place every year in numerous countries, and more popping up all the time, conferences have been forced to come up with new strategies. Many, particularly those in larger cities, are simply expanding the range of topics that are covered to include less conventional ideas, such as alternative medicine, self-help, and VCR repair. Some have been forced to try passing former speakers off as new by using a different name and having them put on a fake mustache.