28 June 2006

A Taste of TED

For those of you who haven't attended TED ... this 3-minute trailer will give you a taste ... Once we've whet you're appetite, you can dive into the full-length TEDTalks presentations (and by full-length, I mean roughly 18 minutes: the aggressively brief spot each TED speaker is allotted). New talks will be posted weekly ... To receive each episode automagically, Subscribe on iTunes.

27 June 2006

Introducing TEDTalks

Tedtalks_170x170_2Today, for the first time ever, we're thrilled to present some of the most remarkable talks from TEDs past. We launch with six from this year's conference — Al Gore, Tony Robbins, David Pogue, Majora Carter, Hans Rosling and Ken Robinson — with more coming weekly. All the talks are downloadable as audio or video, searchable and free.

It's a big moment for us: Until now, the TED experience has been limited to 1,000 people each year. But we believe passionately that these talks deserve a much wider audience. Now — thanks to the maturation of online video and podcasting, and a visionary sponsorship from BMW — we can share them for the first time.

TEDTalks are designed to fit into your life: You can subscribe, to easily receive updates each week. There's an audio series (produced with WNYC/New York Public Radio) that commutes well, as well as the video series, offered on this blog and TED.com, and downloadable through iTunes. Plus, the talks are fully searchable, so you can always find exactly what you're looking for.

Our intention here isn't to draw attendees (TED2007 already has a long waiting list), but simply to share these profound talks — which have had such great impact on us — with the widest possible audience. They're ideas worth spreading. So whether you're a TED veteran or virgin, we encourage you to clear your schedule and watch at least three talks, back to back. They have a cumulative effect ... — Chris

Sir Ken Robinson on TEDTalks

Ken RobinsonSir Ken Robinson is author of Out of Our Minds: Learning to be Creative, and a leading expert on innovation and human resources. In this talk, he makes an entertaining (and profoundly moving) case for creating an education system that nurtures creativity, rather than undermining it. [Recorded February, 2006 in Monterey, CA. Duration: 20:02]


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Al Gore on TEDTalks

Al Gore 

Al Gore, in his own words, "used to be the next President of the United States of America" but has since changed professions. This talk is a follow-up to his now-famous presentation, featured in the movie, An Inconvenient Truth. In it, he outlines what we can do to avert a global climate crisis.
[Recorded February, 2006 in Monterey, CA. Duration: 16:55]


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Majora Carter on TEDTalks

Majora CarterMajora Carter is the Macarthur-winning founder of Sustainable South Bronx, an organization dedicated to holistic community development, sponsoring projects that create jobs, protect the environment and bring beautiful green space to the inner city. In this charismatic presentation (which received a prolonged standing ovation), she explains her commitment to environmental justice and her vision for a renewed South Bronx. [Recorded February, 2006 in Monterey, CA. Duration: 19:14]


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David Pogue on TEDTalks

David PogueDavid Pogue is the personal technology columnist for The New York Times, an Emmy award-winning tech correspondent for CBS News, and one of the world's bestselling how-to authors. In this unconventional talk, he offers a sweeping (and unusual) view on the state of software, partially set to music. [Recorded February, 2006 in Monterey, CA. Duration: 22:05]


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Tony Robbins on TEDTalks

Tony RobbinsTony Robbins is father of the life-coaching industry. In this talk, he explains how to unlock your true potential, and asks the audience (including former Vice President Al Gore) for a bit of high-level interaction. [Recorded February, 2006 in Monterey, CA. Duration: 26:02]


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Hans Rosling on TEDTalks

Hans RoslingHans Rosling is a public health expert, director of Sweden's world-renowned Karolinska Institute, and founder of Gapminder, a non-profit that brings vital global data to life. Here, with the drama and urgency of a sportscaster, he debunks a few myths about the "developing" world. [Recorded February, 2006 in Monterey, CA. Duration: 20:34]


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"I suspect... the Auto Industry, in the Conservatory, with the Wrench."


Just got back from a screening of "Who Killed the Electric Car?" an entertaining documentary - opening this week in NY and LA - chronicling the remarkable story of the little car that couldn't: the GM EV1.

I had the privilege of visiting the film crew on location, in the summer of 2004, mere days before GM carted away the last of the EV1s. I drove it, literally, into the sunset, and you may not believe me when I say it, but that car packed a serious PUNCH.

The film tends to wear its message on its sleeve, but a cast of colorful characters (including one of the more adorable on-screen romances of all time) plus unspoken parallels between the short-lived EV-era and the demise of the LA Red Car keep it moving. If "An Inconvenient Truth" only whet your appetite for environmentally engaging cinema but left you yearning for more, visit http://www.whokilledtheelectriccar.com for a quick fix.

26 June 2006

For the collection: Phaidon Design Classics

I admit it: When I first saw the reviews for Phaidon Design Classics, I was hoping this authoritative 3-volume set would turn out to be over-rated. I live in New York, I have a book-buying problem, and I just don't have the room for yet another "essential" reference. But it looks like I'll be clearing some shelf space ... these enormous yellow volumes are not only useful, but utterly delightful. The 999 entries cover everything from the chopstick to the Atari joystick, beautifully tracing the evolution of design from the 1600s on. The appeal here lies not only in the definitive selection of objects, but also in the curation of images, which incorporate standard product shots as well as blueprints, patents, drawings and vintage ads for products from vacuum cleaners to Volkswagens. The only downside, ironically, is the design. The books come encased in an unwieldy and impenetrable exoskeleton, which photographs well, but fails to function as either a carrying case or a display.

22 June 2006

Ads We Love: Pac-Man Puppet Show

Gametap AdSome of the best-loved TV ads can hold their own as short films, with compelling characters, surprising twists, emotional resonance ... and maybe a mariachi band. For example: Pac-Man Puppet Show, an exceedingly endearing ad, which may well be the sweetest spot we highlighted at TED2006. Created for Gametap by Mullen (Wenham, MA), and filmed on location in Tijuana, Mexico.

20 June 2006

Welcome guest blogger: Bruno Giussani

Starting this week, we add a new pen to our TEDBlog team: Bruno Giussani, who kicked off his tenure yesterday with a piece on rogue gerontologist Aubrey deGrey. Bruno left us all in awe with his nearly minute-by-minute coverage of TED2006, and was producer of last year's TEDGlobal in Oxford, UK. Based in Switzerland, he writes the EuroScan column for BusinessWeek, and his blog, LunchOverIP just won the Swiss "Golden Mouse" award. We're looking forward to his filter on all things TED, translated from five or six languages. Welcome, Bruno!

Musical Juggling

Yes, it is true that Chris Bliss does not have a McCarthur Genius Award like TED alumni Michael Moschen.  Nor is he as funny as TED mainstays, the Raspyni Brothers.  But Bliss did warm up for Michael Jackson on the "Victory Tour" and he can juggle a mean routine to the Golden Slumbers Medley.  Check it out here:

19 June 2006

Ze Frank and his wikicomedy

Zefrank_1There's been a lot of talk in TED HQ lately about The Show. That is, Ze Frank's show. The one he writes, films and posts each weekday, as a result of a New Year's resolution. (Many of you will remember Ze's resolutions from TED2005). With this new daily format, Ze's really hit his stride. But over the last few weeks, he's stumbled on yet another winning idea: recruiting viewers to write the show for him.

Tired of virtual heckling, he invited the nay-sayers to come up with a script (If you're so funny, YOU write the show.) What's resulted is a sort of wiki-comedy, where fans collaborate to put words in Ze's mouth (and props on his lap). Their freshman effort: Fabuloso Friday may be more fascinating than funny, per se. But we're staying tuned for more. And we're not the only ones: This entertaining profile of Ze and The Show (complete with the photo at left) snagged a front-page slot on the NYT Sunday Styles section.

Aubrey De Grey: scientist or dreamer?

Could someone with the proper scientific credentials please stand up and tell us whether Aubrey de Grey's claim that we can defeat aging has any credibility? That's the challenge put forth by the MIT Technology Review last summer - and a few people did stand up. The dispute is not resolved yet, but the controversy is becoming red-hot. In the coming days, a "jury" will try (try) to settle it.

Aubreydegrey Flash-back: British biogerontologist and computer scientist Aubrey de Grey - who carries a resemblance to Gandalf - stunned and fascinated the attendees at both TEDGLOBAL and TED06, claiming that there is no reason why science could not figure out how to make us live until the age of 200 or beyond. De Grey says (I'm oversimplifying) that aging, like a disease, can be cured; that it is essentially a set of accumulating molecular and cellular transformations in our bodies, caused by metabolism, that eventually lead to pathology and kill us. Therefore, it could be approached "as an engineering problem": identify all the components of the variety of processes that cause tissues to age, and design remedies for each of them. He calls the approach "Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence" (SENS).

At TEDGLOBAL, Kari Stefansson, the founder of Iceland's DeCode Genetics, called the idea "peculiar": “Survival of the species is dependent on the death of the individual and on new generations; what matters is the presence of life, not the absence of death”. But clearly it takes more than that to debunk de Grey's theory. Turns out that a long profile of de Grey was one of the most widely-read articles in the MIT Tech Review last year, attracting thousands of letter and e-mails. Jason Pontin, the editor, went out searching for a biogerontologist who would take on de Grey's claims, "but while a number of biologists have criticized SENS to me privately, none have been willing to do so in public".

Why? It's possible that they just didn't want to waste their time on such a silly issue. Or could it be an immodest unwillingness to examine the details of SENS? Pontin wanted to find out, and last summer the Review announced a prize of US$ 20'000 for any molecular biologist who could demonstrate - in 750 words or less (plus annexes and footnotes) - that "SENS is so wrong that it is unworthy of learned debate".

A few scientists had a go at it. Charles V. Mobbs, associate professor for neuroscience and geriatrics at Mt Sinai School of Medicine, developed his argument around the fact that SENS would treat the symptoms (damages caused by the metabolism) rather than the causes (full text; de Grey's rebuttal; Mobbs counter-response - all in PDF). Bret Weinstein, a PhD candidate at the University of Michigan, went on a full-frontal attack (full text; rebuttal; counter-response), as did 9 researchers from universities and private organizations: "SENS is pseudoscience ... The prefix pseudo means false", they write (full text; rebuttal; counter-response). Those are the three submissions that, according to the Tech Review, qualified for consideration.

Now, a "jury" will deliberate, and present their conclusions. It includes TEDsters Rodney Brooks, Craig Venter and Nathan Myhrvold, along with Vikram Kumar, CEO of Dimagi, and Anita Goel, CEO of Nanobiosym. Their deliberations will be published in the July/August issue of the Technology Review, and on July 11 on the magazine's website.

(cross-posted on LunchOverIP)

15 June 2006

Lego my Audi

Could digitized analog be the new black?

From Pixar's incredible Zoetrope to the time-lapse interstitial films we saw between sessions at TED 2006, capturing analog events on digital media suddenly seems a lot more interesting and compelling than slick computer graphics or a carefully manicured piece of Photoshop wizardry.  I think it has something to do with authenticity and tangibility, that Deer Hunter-esque aesthetic sensibility articulated by Robert De Niro which says "This is this.  This ain't somethin' else.  This is this!".  Ultimately, digitized analog just feels more human.

Cover101 For example, the Audi race car depicted in the illustration to the left is actually a digital photo of a hand-built sculpture made up of, oh, a few quadrillion-zillion Lego bricks.  As you can see from this video about the making of the illustration, starting with a photograph and building a Lego rendition of the image and then taking another photo of the sculpture entails a lot more work than would have gone into a simple digital manipulation of said original image, but the end result is so much more compelling.  It's cool, it's a fun story to watch, and I'm glad that artist Todd Osborn did it.

By the way, the Audi R10 will be racing at the 24 Hours of Le Mans this weekend.  A wicked piece of technology, entertainment and design, the R10 is the first serious diesel-powered entry at the historied French endurance race, and will make big news if it wins.  No, it doesn't feature quattro, but its V12 diesel motor represents a serious leap in the state of the art.

14 June 2006

Malcolm Gladwell & Steven Levitt: It started at a TED salon ...

A great TED tidbit we missed the first time around: In TIME Magazine last month, Tipping Point author Malcolm Gladwell (TED04) wrote a tribute to Freakonomics author Steven Levitt (TED04, TEDGlobal), who was honored as one of the TIME 100. It starts like this:

Not long after Freakonomics came out, Steven Levitt and I had a public debate at a salon in downtown Manhattan. The subject was crime. In my book The Tipping Point, I had argued that the cluster of innovative policing strategies known as "broken windows" played a big role in the dramatic drop in New York City's crime rate. Levitt and his co-author Stephen Dubner argued, to the contrary, that "broken windows" was an illusion and that other factors, like the demographic changes brought about by the legalization of abortion, played a much bigger role. It was a straightforward back-and-forth. Levitt got up and made his case. I got up and made mine. But halfway through, I glanced over at Levitt and had a realization that I'm not sure I've ever had before with an intellectual opponent—that if I made my case persuasively and cogently enough, he would change his mind. He was, in other words, listening. More >>

The above-mentioned event was, course, a TED salon. Held at the TED loft in Tribeca, it featured the friendly, timely debate between Gladwell and Levitt, the week Freakonomics was published. Very pleased to see the salon had as much impact on them as it did on us!

13 June 2006

Ads We Love: Adidas football fresco

In celebration of the World Cup, Adidas has launched a series of unconventional, high-profile ads across Germany. We just laid eyes on this one: A 9,000-square-foot fresco, painted Sistine-chapel-wise on the ceiling of Cologne's central train station. It took Hamburg-based illustrator Felix Reidenbach 40 days to complete this pantheon of soccer gods, featuring 10 superstars of the sport (all Adidas-sponsored, of course). Click the image below for a closer look at the lads, who include the UK's David Beckham and Germany's Michael Ballack. Created for Adidas by TBWA/Germany. (Hat tip to Bruno)
Adidas Football Fresco

12 June 2006

Great Ideas, Part 2

Greatideas2We applauded last fall, when Penguin released a series of beautiful paperbacks, breathing new life into Great Ideas. We're gushing all over again, now that the second series has arrived, with 20 more brilliant little books. (They arrived in discerning bookstores, like New York's Three Lives & Co., last week.) The lovely lightweight volumes feature heavyweight thinkers — Hobbes and Hume, Confucius and Kierkegaard, Thoreau and ... Marco Polo. My summer reading list just got a bit more substantial ...

11 June 2006

DesignWatch: Building a better wheelchair

WheelchairAn inspired piece of design news out of the UK: Mike Spindle, who's spent most of his career designing Formula One race cars, spent the last five years designing a better wheelchair: One that's lighter, more stable, more versatile, and way better looking. The Trekinetic K2, unveiled at the Mobility Roadshow in Gloucestershire, UK, has three wheels, rather than four (including 2 nubby mountain bike tires upfront), and replaces the tubular metal chassis of standard chairs with a carbon fiber 'monocoque." Full story on the BBC.

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What We're Reading

  • Untied2 The Untied States of America
    By Juan Enriquez

    As always, Juan Enriquez looks at the same facts you and I do, but discovers insights that we miss. His book, shockingly, predicts that the next 50 years could see the US fragment in dangerous and unexpected ways.  He writes as he speaks: Every page is stuffed with intriguing images, surprising graphs and wonderful humor.

    Whatwebelieve2 What We Believe But Cannot Prove
    Edited by John Brockman

    An irresistible book that sprung out of the annual question asked by TEDster John Brockman of Edge. The contributors include dozens of TED speakers, and what they write is almost universally thought-provoking. Plus it's easy just to dip in, dip out out of the bite-sized brilliant essays. An absolute treat.

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