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Eric Berlow: I'm an ecologist, and Sean's a physicist, and we both study complex networks. And we met a couple years ago when we discovered that we had both given a short TED Talk about the ecology of war, and we realized that we were connected by the ideas we shared before we ever met. And then we thought, you know, there are thousands of other talks out there, especially TEDx Talks, that are popping up all over the world. How are they connected, and what does that global conversation look like? So Sean's going to tell you a little bit about how we did that.

Sean Gourley: Exactly. So we took 24,000 TEDx Talks from around the world, 147 different countries, and we took these talks and we wanted to find the mathematical structures that underly the ideas behind them. And we wanted to do that so we could see how they connected with each other.

And so, of course, if you're going to do this kind of stuff, you need a lot of data. So the data that you've got is a great thing called YouTube, and we can go down and basically pull all the open information from YouTube, all the comments, all the views, who's watching it, where are they watching it, what are they saying in the comments. But we can also pull up, using speech-to-text translation, we can pull the entire transcript, and that works even for people with kind of funny accents like myself. So we can take their transcript and actually do some pretty cool things. We can take natural language processing algorithms to kind of read through with a computer, line by line, extracting key concepts from this. And we take those key concepts and they sort of form this mathematical structure of an idea. And we call that the meme-ome. And the meme-ome, you know, quite simply, is the mathematics that underlies an idea, and we can do some pretty interesting analysis with it, which I want to share with you now.

So each idea has its own meme-ome, and each idea is unique with that, but of course, ideas, they borrow from each other, they kind of steal sometimes, and they certainly build on each other, and we can go through mathematically and take the meme-ome from one talk and compare it to the meme-ome from every other talk, and if there's a similarity between the two of them, we can create a link and represent that as a graph, just like Eric and I are connected.

So that's theory, that's great. Let's see how it works in actual practice. So what we've got here now is the global footprint of all the TEDx Talks over the last four years exploding out around the world from New York all the way down to little old New Zealand in the corner. And what we did on this is we analyzed the top 25 percent of these, and we started to see where the connections occurred, where they connected with each other. Cameron Russell talking about image and beauty connected over into Europe. We've got a bigger conversation about Israel and Palestine radiating outwards from the Middle East. And we've got something a little broader like big data with a truly global footprint reminiscent of a conversation that is happening everywhere.

So from this, we kind of run up against the limits of what we can actually do with a geographic projection, but luckily, computer technology allows us to go out into multidimensional space. So we can take in our network projection and apply a physics engine to this, and the similar talks kind of smash together, and the different ones fly apart, and what we're left with is something quite beautiful.

Sean Gourley: Exactly. So we took 24,000 TEDx Talks from around the world, 147 different countries, and we took these talks and we wanted to find the mathematical structures that underly the ideas behind them. And we wanted to do that so we could see how they connected with each other.

And so, of course, if you're going to do this kind of stuff, you need a lot of data. So the data that you've got is a great thing called YouTube, and we can go down and basically pull all the open information from YouTube, all the comments, all the views, who's watching it, where are they watching it, what are they saying in the comments. But we can also pull up, using speech-to-text translation, we can pull the entire transcript, and that works even for people with kind of funny accents like myself. So we can take their transcript and actually do some pretty cool things. We can take natural language processing algorithms to kind of read through with a computer, line by line, extracting key concepts from this. And we take those key concepts and they sort of form this mathematical structure of an idea. And we call that the meme-ome. And the meme-ome, you know, quite simply, is the mathematics that underlies an idea, and we can do some pretty interesting analysis with it, which I want to share with you now.

So each idea has its own meme-ome, and each idea is unique with that, but of course, ideas, they borrow from each other, they kind of steal sometimes, and they certainly build on each other, and we can go through mathematically and take the meme-ome from one talk and compare it to the meme-ome from every other talk, and if there's a similarity between the two of them, we can create a link and represent that as a graph, just like Eric and I are connected.

So that's theory, that's great. Let's see how it works in actual practice. So what we've got here now is the global footprint of all the TEDx Talks over the last four years exploding out around the world from New York all the way down to little old New Zealand in the corner. And what we did on this is we analyzed the top 25 percent of these, and we started to see where the connections occurred, where they connected with each other. Cameron Russell talking about image and beauty connected over into Europe. We've got a bigger conversation about Israel and Palestine radiating outwards from the Middle East. And we've got something a little broader like big data with a truly global footprint reminiscent of a conversation that is happening everywhere.

So from this, we kind of run up against the limits of what we can actually do with a geographic projection, but luckily, computer technology allows us to go out into multidimensional space. So we can take in our network projection and apply a physics engine to this, and the similar talks kind of smash together, and the different ones fly apart, and what we're left with is something quite beautiful.

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