How we picked Hidden Gems

Posted by on Jan 28, 2014 in Editorial, New features

What, you ask, is a Hidden Gem? It’s the TED equivalent of a pearl in a clamshell. Our hidden gems are those stunningly good talks that for some reason didn’t go wildly viral — but that reward the viewer with a great, unexpected idea.

And we know our audience loves to discover talks like this. So we’ve made it into an actual filter on the homepage. Want to see a Hidden Gem? Click on TED.com:


But it brought up a question: How to pick those talks out of our long list? The answer began with a great big spreadsheet — a list of every talk on TED.com, along with the number of views it has and the number of days it’s been live on the site. We divided the former by the latter to get a very rough measure of popularity: How many times is the talk viewed in an average day? We sorted from the most-watched per day to the least-watched. And it was in the lower half of the list where things got really interesting.

A team of us sat around a conference room table — a beautiful sunset happening out the windows — and slowly scrolled through the list. When we saw a talk we loved, we called out to the group.

Becci Manson’s talk is so beautiful. Definitely a Hidden Gem,” one person would say.

Andrew Bird’s performance at TED2010 rocks,” someone else would say.

After a little discussion, we’d ask: is it a hidden gem? Would someone be delighted to find this talk? If the answer was yes, we added it to the section.

Rick Smolan’s “The story of a girl.” Check.

Beeban Kidron’s “The shared wonder of film.” Indeed.

Bandi Mbubi’s “Demand a fair trade cell phone.” It’s a great, personal take on an untalked-about global problem.

Shea Hembrey’s “How I became 100 artists.” Yes! Apparently, many of us count this talk among our favorites.

Each time you click on “Hidden gems” on the TED homepage, a new hand-picked assortment of amazing talks will appear, many of them, we hope, new to you. If you’re the kind of person who adores finding a killer B-side or discovering a new restaurant — give it a try!


hello_kateKate Torgovnick May is TED’s resident writer, who can also solve a Rubik’s Cube in less than two minutes.