SXSW: TED Opens API to Developers

    March 13, 2011
    Chris Crum

TED Media Executive Producer June Cohen says TED follows a concept of “radical openness,” which is the basis for opening up the TED API.

“We’re going to allow developers around the world to build their own TED apps,” she said.

Cohen discussed TED’s increasing openness over the years at SXSW Interactive in Austin. She says that opening up has truly transformed TED, adding that all of the
rhetoric that comes with making your business more open can actually “bear out spectacularly in real life”.

She talked a bit about things they have done to make online viewing of the TED Talks better for users – specifically designing for the small screen, starting the online videos at a strong point – like skipping the boring intro, and evoking “contagious emotions” – in other words, something that makes people want to share. Good advice for any content creator.

Cohen stressed needing to get TED Talks out to parts of the world that don’t have the kind of broadband access needed for watching online video. The API should help the expansion to more platforms.

“We have a small team at TED, and we can’t do all of this on our own,” said Cohen. “And we also don’t have a monopoly on good ideas.”

“The best ideas are the ones we haven’t thought of yet,”  she added.

The API will give developers access to all metadata from the Ted Talks – including topic, ratings, speaker, date, etc. They want to see developers create apps in every language for every platform.

The API will launch sometime mid-year, but they’re asking developers to reach out before then (


Chris Crum
Chris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.