Archives For TED

3 Must-Watch TED Talks

March 14, 2014 — 2 Comments


For three decades, three big red letters have signified an annual forum for the creative and forward thinking to share groundbreaking ideas. From revealing the first Apple Mac in 1984 to Jamie Oliver’s heartfelt plea for a Food Revolution in 2010, TED has been one of the best platforms in the world for making complex ideas completely gettable and easily sharable.

It’s hard to believe that for most of its history TED conferences were only accessible to an elite audience with significant resources. Lucky for us, seven years ago, curator Chris Anderson made these sessions available online to watch and download for free. Today, TED Talks are memes that instantly spread to millions across the world.

I humbly count myself among those lucky enough not to just attend TED conferences, but also to speak at them occasionally. I look forward to next week’s special gathering in Vancouver, B.C., called TED: The Next Chapter. It marks the conference’s 30 anniversary. Like any milestone, it’s a good chance to reflect on what’s come before. In the spirit of the TED Talk’s signature brevity, here are three of my favorites who will be part of this year’s “All-Star Sessions.”

Sir Ken Robinson, “How Schools Kill Creativity” – There’s a reason why this author, educator, and creativity expert’s talk is the most watched TED talk ever (over 25 million views). Sir Ken argues for a significant rethinking of education leadership from “command and control” to “climate control” in order to create environments that nurture kids’ creativity. It’s been a huge boon to those of us interested in unlocking the creative confidence of the next generation.

John Maeda, “How Art, Technology, and Design Inform Creative Leaders – A programmer, artist, and former president of the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), Maeda is passionate about putting the “A” (Art) into “STEM” education (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math). This talk was taped when he was at RISD’s helm, trying to bring technology to the storied, handcraft-focused school.

Stewart Brand, “The Dawn of De-Extinction. Are You Ready? – The founder of the Whole Earth Catalog and Long Now Foundation, Brand argues for “de-extincting,” or bringing back previously extinct species like the carrier pigeon. Whether you’re horrified or indifferent, the idea that our current understanding of science may be deep enough to reverse environmental damage and return to a balanced eco-system is a paradigm shift that utterly transforms our legacy to future generations.

And if you’re new to TED and looking for an overview, the organizers have put together thisplaylist, which features 17 of their favorite talks over the past 30 years.

What are your favorite TED Talks and why?

(Posted also on my LinkedIn Thought Leader blog)

Education has been a growing theme at TED. It’s one that seems to strongly resonate across the community, from techies to creatives to entrepreneurs to big business C.E.O.’s. One idea that is gaining popularity is around the notion that education has to encourage and reinforce kids’ natural curiosity. Unfortunately, conventional education does a very efficient job of beating kids’ natural curiosity out of them. This year’s TED prize winnerDr. Sugata Mitra—the first to step up to $1 million in prize money—tackles this issue head on.

Dr. Mitra, an educational researcher and professor of educational technology at Newcastle University (UK), wishes to design the School in the Cloud—a learning lab in India, based on his vision for Self Organized Learning Environments (SOLE). The school draws inspiration from Mitra’s “Hole in the Wall” experiments, in which he observed children both learning and teaching on their own and without any guidance or intervention.

Watch Mitra’s inspiring talk here and learn more about his plan for the School in the Cloud here.

(Posted also on my LinkedIn Thought Leader blog)

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I’m very excited to be attending TED2013 next week where the theme this year is “The Young. The Wise. The Undiscovered.” With that in mind, I reached out to the global IDEO community to find some of their favorite—and possibly undiscovered by me/you—TED talks. Here are just a few:

+ Dan Phillips: Creative Houses from Reclaimed Stuff

+ Elliot Krane: The Mystery of Chronic Pain

+ John Hunter: Teaching with the World Peace Game

+ Sarah Kay: If I Should Have a Daughter

+ Willie Smits: How to Restore a Rainforest


(Image © TED Conferences, LLC / posted also on my LinkedIn Thought Leader blog)

This week TED published a playlist called 10 Talks About the Beauty—and Difficulty—of Being Creative. Included in the playlist: David Kelley’s 2012 TED talk, “How To Build Your Creative Confidence,” and my own 2008 talk, “Tales of Creativity and Play.

There’s a powerful relationship between creative thinking and play. To learn about many examples you can try at home (and one that maybe you shouldn’t), watch “Tales of Creativity and Play.

Then watch David’s talk—and don’t miss the rest of the TED creativity playlist.

What inspires you to be creative today?

(posted also on my LinkedIn Thought Leader blog)

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A recent article by Matt Ridley in the Wall Street Journal entitled “The Perils of Always Ignoring the Bright Side” got me thinking. Using the examples of GM crops and shale gas, Ridley makes the argument that the media’s singular interest in reporting negative outcomes has caused us to miss the potentially significant benefits of these two innovations. “Good news is deemed less newsworthy than the bad,” he writes, and as a result new technologies are harder than ever to get adopted.

It seems to me that this doesn’t just apply to innovations—where there may need to be a balancing of negative and positive—but also to new ideas that are clearly good. If good news is uninteresting to the media, then one of our most powerful tools for spreading new ideas and speeding the uptake of new approaches is lost to us. At a time when some of the most pressing problems are, at their root, issues of behavior it is tragic that the single most powerful tool for affecting behavior, storytelling, is being underutilized because the business of media perceives bad news to be the only way to engage an audience.

What are the alternatives? It is interesting to me that arguably the most successful new media venture of the last decade takes an almost entirely positive view on storytelling. TED has evolved from a cloistered conference for the technological elite to a storytelling machine consisting of hundreds of TEDx conferences a year and millions of downloads of TED talk videos. The success of this venture, and the appeal it seems to have with the young, suggests that a more optimistic approach has a market and is capable of inspiring engagement and action. Continue Reading…