February 7, 2018

Exploring the World of TED

A visualization of 2,500 TED Talks

Michael Hester

TED started as an annual, invite-only conference in 1984, but has since morphed into a global brand. Since 2006, TED.com has become a hub for thought-provoking ideas delivered by some of the world's brightest minds. With more than 2,500 talks recorded since its inception, the TED library continues to grow. Topics range from the future of the internet, to living stress-free, to even a love poem for lonely prime numbers.

With so many choices to sift through, we wanted to make it easier to navigate the world of TED. Below, we've plotted every TED Talk by year and views1 for your learning pleasure. Just filter by your favorite subject, preview the talks that suit your interests, and settle on one (or multiple) to watch.

Some of the most famous TED Talks bubble up to the top -- How Schools Killed Creativity by Ken Robinson and Your Body Language May Shape Who You Are by Amy Cuddy are staples in the TED world, despite the latter stirring up a bit of recent controversy.

But don’t sleep on some of the lesser-known, yet equally compelling, content. Filter to jaw-dropping talks on design and you’ll discover Reach Into the Computer and Grab a Pixel by Jinha Lee or become entranced by Eric Berlow and Sean Gourley’s analysis in Mapping Ideas Worth Spreading.

Are there other TED Talks out there that deserve more exposure? Add your favorites to this thread on Twitter!


  1. Several videos -- like Ken Robinson's "Schools Kill Creativity" -- have over twenty times as many views as the average video. If we were to present raw views along the y-axis of our scatterplot, the presence of massive outliers would push the majority of videos to the very bottom of the plot. To avoid this, we computed a "normalized difference" of each video's views. This preserves the relative ordering of the videos along the y-axis, but makes all videos more discoverable. ↩︎


Each TED Talk is tagged with a number of phrases that encompass the video's themes. In total, there were 416 unique tags represented across the 2,500+ videos in the dataset. We've allowed readers to filter only from the twenty most common tags for simplicity.

Viewers of TED videos also have the option to "rate" each video by selecting three words to describe their reaction to it -- "funny", "inspiring", "jaw-dropping". Users have the ability to select as many words as they'd like from a list of fourteen. For our purposes, we've defined a particular word (i.e. "inspiring") as characteristic of a video if it constituted more than 20% of reactions.

Each video's normalized difference was computed according to the following formula:

norm = (views - mean(views)) / (views + mean(views)).

Nerd Notes:

Graphic was created using d3.js.

TED Talk data comes from this dataset on Kaggle. All videos embedded directly from TED.com.