New research by a University of Wolverhampton expert has
highlighted the success of a popular series of online videos at
promoting science to the public.
Videos recorded at the annual TED (Technology, Entertainment and
Design) conferences have attracted a global audience of millions,
and have featured world famous experts such as Bill Gates, Stephen
Hawking, Richard Dawkins and Al Gore.
While the conferences are sometimes described as elitist,
costing in the region of $6,000 (£3,700) to attend, the 18-minute
online videos are free on You Tube and the TED website.
Professor Mike Thelwall is a leading expert in web analysis and
has co-authored research into the phenomenon. This found that the
TED videos have been viewed online about three quarters of a
billion times, which he describes as “an astonishing amount” for a
The research shows that TED Talks videos are very popular, with
almost all of them receiving much more positive feedback than
negative feedback from the online audience.
The research also shows that about a third of TED Talks videos
are about science and technology and these are as popular as the
other videos. Some of the science and technology talks are given by
scientists and these tend to be more liked than those by
non-scientists. Least popular seem to be the talks with an art and
The lectures focus on technology, culture, the environment,
science, social trends and the latest TED conference was held in
Edinburgh from June 25-29.
Professor Thelwall, who is head of the Statistical Cybermetrics
Research Group in the School of Technology at the University, said:
“This seems to be the first major study of the TED phenomenon,
despite the huge amount of interest that it has generated.
“Our research shows that scientists really can give interesting
talks and TED seems to capture them well.
“We know that most people have some interest in science news and
this may account for the success of TED.
“The huge popularity of TED talks is truly amazing and I would
encourage anyone with an interest in science to watch some of the
over 1000 available free online.”
The authors of the research are neither funded by TED nor
affiliated with TED in any way.
The research was funded by the international Digging into Data
Challenge (http://www.diggingintodata.org/), with
the UK component provided by the Joint Information Systems
The total funding for the project is about £300,000 and of that
the University of Wolverhampton receives £99,776. The project
participants are the University of Wolverhampton (UK), the
University of Indiana, Bloomington (USA), and the University of
Quebec at Montreal (Canada).
The first author of the research, Professor Cassidy Sugimoto,
works at Indiana University, Bloomington (USA). She is an expert on
communication within science.
An article describing the research has just been accepted for
publication in a prestigious academic journal and a preprint is
Article detail: Sugimoto, C.R. & Thelwall, M. (in press).
Scholars on soap boxes: Science communication and dissemination in
TED videos. Journal of the American Society for Information Science
More information about the TED conference is available: http://conferences.ted.com/TEDGlobal2012/
The TED web site: http://www.ted.com/
The TED YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/TEDtalksDirector
For more information please contact Vickie Warren in the Media
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Date Issued: Friday, 06 July 2012
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