A year ago today the avalanche of Prometheus viral marketing began with a YouTube video from 2023.

Peter Weyland addresses an oppressively lit audience from the center of an Orwellian amphitheatre: “We are the gods now,” the cybernetics pioneer booms, “and if you’ll indulge me, I’d like to change the world.” It’s a Hollywood blend of self-confidence and barely-shrouded megalomania, and what makes it feel like a real possible future is the display behind him showing the iconic TED logo and motto Ideas worth spreading.

Videos like these are how the internet has gotten to know this entity that began in 1984 as a conference to bring together people from the worlds of technology, entertainment, and design. Two annual conferences are still the centerpiece of TED but TED itself is now something no one can describe succinctly. If you’ll indulge me, I’d like to paint a picture of it over the course of a few paragraphs.