I did not know, but am not surprised to hear that TED asks all of its content providers to speak for prestige, that is to say – nothing. Zip. Zero. Bupkis. Nada.
Apparently Frank Swain found out that Chris Anderson’s brainchild is little more than another purveyor of Importance that charges massive money up front to the audience and provides nothing to the people who make it happen – the speakers themselves. And Frank was unimpressed.
I know I’m supposed to swoon a little at the idea of being an Official TEDx Speaker, that doing this will rain down confetti and job offers and fame on me. But in the end it boils down to this: TEDx is just another organisation asking me to work for free.
Do I sound grouchy and cynical? Well, I suppose I am. I’m tired of being asked to work for free. I’m tired of the bullshit idea that exposure is somehow its own reward. I’m tired of the people who can afford to do it justifying this malignant trend.
I’m thinking of Franklin Delano Roosevelt here: “They call it a new world order. Well, it’s not new, and it’s not order.” Getting people to work for free isn’t new – it’s the oldest game out there. Look at the Pyramids of Egypt. Impressive, no? Yeah, that was not created on fat union contracts with healthcare and paid vacation, but slavery. It gets shit done, but slavery isn’t nice.
I judge everything by the Paul Garland Price Curve. I got paid minimum wage in 1986 to stack cow manure and peat moss and feed at my Dad’s farm store in Vermont when I was 12 – 15 years old. That was $3.33 per hour at the time. It was brutally hard work, unloading giant 18-wheelers of peat moss coming out of the icy tundra of northern Quebec. Every day in the late spring and summer I went home filthy and tired. I was in junior high school and a strong back was my only asset.
The Paul Garland Price Curve asks me to judge all other economic activities by his standards. Given my effort in 1986, why should any other human being earn less money in 2013?
If somebody charges thousands per ticket, nobody involved in the production should make less than I did hauling cow shit.