After the month-long bender known as the World Cup, I figured it was time to feed my brain rather than my liver.
Enter TED. Specifically, TEDx Amsterdam, a combo live event and video screening of the TED main event in Oxford.
TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, and Design and has attracted a considerable global following from its website at www.ted.com. Covering big-picture issues like climate change, human interactions, charity and crowdfunding, this recent event was a meeting of the minds. And I'm of two minds when it comes to the whole thing.
I sincerely appreciate TED's aspirational aspects, its desire to inspire. Speakers from all walks of life who aim to rise above the fray of YouTube videos and inane, illiterate pop culture and really make a difference.
At the same time, I can't help feeling 75% of it is straight from the pages Stuff White People Like, full of quasi-interesting nuggets that people consume to feel and sound smarter for a week. (The same way Malcolm Gladwell aficianados sound at parties - the next time someone uses the vacuous term "tipping point", you are free to laugh at them).
The Amsterdam event was held at Boom Chicago, a theatre/comedy club venue. It opened with - and mark this name down - Noam Vazana. She's tough to categorize as she went from jazz to classical to pop on multiple instruments, but she had a voice that had most people turning their heads to each other and say "whoa". Here is a sample. The rest of the four days covered a ton of material and can be seen on the TED website now and in the coming months.
Overall, once again, virtue triumphs over cynicism though, and there some great ideas on this planet. Despite all the problems happening right now around the world, there are some exceedingly bright and well-intentioned people working on the solutions.
Some quotes, insights, and other items of interest from the event:
- Costa Rica is apparently the happiest place on earth.
- "Chance favours the connected mind".
- TED speakers love them some graphs - parabolas, reverse parabolas, pie charts, bar charts, delicious pie-on-the-bar charts.
- "Sustainable development in the Anthropocene is not Utopia". A) I concur or B) Oh no he dih-int!
- Irony: the gentleman who spoke so eloquently about the challenges our planet faces in terms of over-consumption was considerably overweight.
- Fun speaker: Ze Frank. Google this guy.
- Interesting: the Harvard Origins of Life Initiative.
- "Incremental change is no longer an option". Except perhaps at toll booths and peep shows.
- "You can't wake a person who's pretending to sleep". This is actually quite profound when you think about it, and it refers to many people exercising willful ignorance towards tough problems.