24 July, 2009

TED Day 4

TED is over and I am already in withdrawal. There's a well-documented reaction called TEDcrash that can accompany re-entry into normal life after four days of immersion in amazing ideas and even more amazing people. I have met more than 90 people in the last five days; each conversation has been at the very least interesting, and at most completely mind-blowing.

Here's a summary of the two sessions from this last Friday morning:

Session 11: Cities Past and Future
Eric Sanderson gave one of TED's most beautiful sessions on the Mannahatta project, which has mapped and cross-referenced every geographical feature and species of flora and fauna of Mannhattan going back to 1600 and culminating in a gorgeous virtual reality view; Constanza Cerruti showed the value of archaeology at high altitude (over 6,000m high!); Carolyn Steel was inspiring, forthright and downright fascinating on how cities were shaped by their food supplies up to the rail and road revolution and how important it is to reforge that broken relationship now; Bjarke Ingels was totally inspiring and also very funny in showing the real future of architecture - jaw-dropping designs (wish I'd known when I had breakfast with him!) that proved sustainability doesn't have to be boring; and Magnus Larsson showed how sand plus a special bacterium equals instant sandstone, which could create a wall of tress and dwellings across Africa to hold back the desert. One of my favourtie sessions, this one - fascintaing, inspiring and amazing in equal measure.

Session 12: Enquire Within
Dan Pink brilliantly and passionately exposed the massive business fallacy that extrinsic motivators, otherwise known as carrots and sticks, improve performance (disproved conclusively by science - they work for simple mechanical tasks but if there is even a hint of creativity involved they actually degrade performance by narrowing focus!) and showed that what work are intrinsic motivators (autonomy, mastery and purpose); Itay Talgam was absolutely brilliant in analysing the essential styles of his fellow great conductors and received a standing ovation; Daniel Birnbaum gave us a personal tour of the Venice Biennale exhibition; Cappucin Friar Br Paulus Terwitte was passionate but sadly to me largely incomprehensible due to langauge limitations; and Imogen Heap returned for a triumphant encore which involved a hang, her voice and a lot of audience participation. She is a gem.

And that's it for another year... now I need at least a week to process the connections! I have met incredible people, my brain is on fire and my faith in humanity has been restored - though not without a clear view of how scary our current challenges are. Thanks to Chris and the whole TED team for my best-ever TED experience. I've signed up for next year already - I wouldn't miss this for anything.


  1. Yeah its very good idea. I like it very much. Its great opportunity of Foreign exchange. Its very beneficial.

  2. One day I hope to be able to successful enough to visit TED, but for now I just watch the videos...and I'm like you, they make my brain HURT!
    Bear Spray


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