24 July, 2009

TED Day 3

TED does funny things to your time perception. It seems to be going so fast - only two sessions left now - but at the same time it seems a lifetime ago that I did my TED-University talk on Tuesday.

Today was fabulous; here's a brief run-through.

Session 7 - Radical Development
Paul Romer proposed that we need some good rules for changing rules because we get stuck with useless old rules too often, and suggested transforming Guantalamo Bay into a Charter City to be Cuba's Hong Kong; Marc Koska demonstrated his safe syringe (plunger breaks after one use); Michael Pritchard showed his brilliant Lifesaver bottle that cleans filthy water (Chris Anderson bravely acted as on-stage guinea pig) and allows people to live where water is; William Kamkwamba inspired us all with his pure dedication in building windmills from scrap to power and irrigate his family home; Rob Hopkins brilliantly showed how we can adapt to the end of the oil age through the wonderful Transition Network (who knew that Lewes had its own currency?); IDEO boss Tim Brown berated the 'design priesthood' for thinking small and argued convincingly that design is really big if we start with humans, prototype fast, move from consumption to participation and ask the right questions.

Session 8 - In The Shadows
A dark and scary session. Taryn Simon showed her superb but unsettling photographs of forbidden or hidden places and of wrongly-convicted people; Misha Glenny gave a tour (de force) of his amazing McMafia book, scaring the pants off me (organised crime is 18% of global GDP!!); Ed Burtynsky showed photographs of man's effect on land; Loretta Napoleoni suggested that terrorism had indirectly caused the credit crunch (US flooded the market with bonds to fund the $7bn war on terror, so interest rates were artificially reduced to increase yields, leading to the sub-prime market); and former child soldier Emmanuel Jal rapped for peace and had the whole house dancing and in tears at the same time.

Session 9 - Revealing Energy
A highlight among highlights: the session started with the BBC Radiophonic Orchestra playing the Dr Who theme complete with live theramin. Priceless - though confusing to the non-Brits. Ross Lovegrove underwhelmed me with some rambling design projects (should have listened to Tim Brown); Nick Veasey showed his x-ray art; Steve Cowley predicted workable fusion soon; Eric Giler demonstrated wireless electricity (at last!! short range only but long enough to eliminate that spaghetti under the desk and remove the need for many of the 40 billion batteries we use and discard each year); Jason Soll showed some card flourishing - a new obsession on YouTube; and Bertrand Piccard was elegantly metaphorical about transglobal balloon flight and about his new venture to circumnavigate the world non-stop in a solar-powered plane (yes nights too).

Session 10 - Worldview Rethink
Parag Khanna proposed that more infrastructure like pipelines and railways will bring peace to the geopolitical map; Richard Bernstein described an astoundingly simple way for business to tackle poverty (create shares and give them to charity); the articulate Geoff Mulgan argued for a new social capitalism founded on care and relationships instead of consumption and credit; Michelle Borkin showed some superb interdisciplinary data visualisation; Rory Bremner was outstanding and very funny ("Sorry I missed Gordon Brown's job application yesterday..."); and Karen Armstrong updated us on her TED Prize wish, the Charter For Compassion, which is being launched late this year (wonderful!).

Bonus session
In the stunning Sheldonian Theatre we had an extraordinary performance of Felix's Machines, a witty talk by charming QI producer John Lloyd, some terrifying time-lapse photography of retreating glaciers by James Balog (any remaining climate change doubters can view similar here), and a beautiful talk by Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie that urged us not to have just one story about any person, country or group.

Only two sessions left tomorrow morning, then it's all over for another year. I have met 90 people, and they have all been fascinating. This has been a vintage TED, and I'm already registered for next year, which is selling fast. Now for some sleep...

1 comment:

  1. TED really shows there is hope in humanity. Every year, incredible people stand on that stage and describe how they have understood the needs and problems the world population is facing and are ready an committed to tackling them. And every year, more and more people listen, and get inspired to make a difference in the world around them. I got inspired by TED, and I have already inspired other people. It's like a virus, and it knows no bounds; no countries, no political systems, no religion, no language and no race. Everyone can participate. If TED were a person, It'd win the nobel peace prize every year.


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