Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Communication Studies

Document Type



The presence of expertise resonates across our daily lives. Experts are called upon to consult us about which candidate is ideal for office, which type of wood is the best choice for a carpentry project, which scientist has optimal data on the effects of air pollution, which speech teacher is the best one to take for proper credit hours, and more. An expert is typically conceived as an individual who knows more about a given topic and can create stronger identification than an average person. The struggle to achieve expert status is one that is fundamentally tied to power and is reliant on the establishment of authenticity and legitimacy from audiences. It is, at its core, a struggle that utilizes rhetoric. Begun in 1984, the TED (Technology, Entertainment, and Design) conference has become a critical player in an architectonic movement to manufacture expertise. Modeled on the Lyceum and Chautauqua movements of the early American 20th century, the TED conferences have spread rapidly into public culture, but most notably in field of education via social media and online video. TED “talks” are classroom artifacts. They are teaching tools and aid in increasing learning for a more digital native student population. Likewise, the TED conferences have become models of community engagement that work rhetorically to demonstrate the attribution and manufacturing of expertise amidst a 21st century digital world. In short, we have acknowledged TED’s growth and expansion as credible and sanctioned their identity as the harbinger of expert and inspirational ideas. The democratization of digital media, particularly video, has made it possible to increase the sharing and collaboration of ideas faster than ever before, and as our world becomes more reliant on digital devices for the receiving and sending of information, the consumption and production of information, and the attribution of expertise, the precise role of technology within pedagogy becomes increasingly complex. My dissertation posits that TED employs current uses of digital media technologies in order to manufacture its ethos of expertise within public culture.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Grey, Stephanie



Included in

Communication Commons