By: Mary Fran Bontempo
So, have you heard about TED?

No, not this summer’s Mark Wahlberg/Seth McFarlane movie about a beer-swilling, skirt-chasing, live teddy bear. This TED has a far better pedigree.

TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design), can be summed up like its three-initial title, by its three word tag line–Ideas Worth Spreading.

At its founding in 1984, TED began as a conference bringing together innovators from the worlds of technology, entertainment and design. The organization’s goal was, and remains, simple: to share ideas. TED “aims to provide a platform for the world’s smartest thinkers, greatest visionaries and most inspiring teachers, so that millions of people can gain a better understanding of the biggest issues faced by the world, and a desire to help create a better future.”

And in 2007, the TED website was launched to make TED talks available to the world.

What’s a TED talk? Imagine the world’s best, most compelling speakers sharing their ideas in an 18 minute time frame. Fascinating topics presented not in a fifteen week long class semester, or even in a three hour seminar. No tests to pass, no questions to answer, just an opportunity to hear the world’s most interesting people bring their best ideas to you, right through your computer.

TED topics range from technology, politics, literature and art, among others, and speakers include the likes of former president Bill Clinton (Rebuilding Rwanda), author Elizabeth Gilbert (Your Elusive Creative Genius) and the late Steve Jobs (How to Live Before You Die).

And the best part is that TED talks are free.

Sure, we’re still in the middle of the lazy, crazy, hazy days of summer. But why not take an 18 minute break and give your brain a workout? You’ll be in good company–TED talks have been viewed over 350 million times. You might learn a thing or two, or better yet, come up with a bright idea of your own.