TED Global Highlights

Posted: July 28th, 2009 | Author: Manuel Lima | Filed under: Uncategorized |

On the last day at TED Global, in Oxford last week, Chris Anderson warned about the famous “TED crash” - a recurrent feeling after 4 days of dopamine and lack of sleep. I was certainly feeling the “crash” on the train home from Oxford, having got used to being ignited by so many mind-blowing talks, ideas and discussions. The conference had a great start with Alain de Boton and Gordon Brown, leading to 3 more days of an intellectual marathon.

Here are some of the highlights:

Learning from Nature

It was interesting to see how Janine Benyus‘ research on Biomimicry had apparently contaminated many of the designers and architects at TED Global. Janine’s talk was awe-inspiring, showing many examples where researchers and scientists went to Nature in search of innovation and problem-solving. Later on, designers Ross Lovegrove and Mathieu Lehanneur showed us a great variety of projects inspired by natural shapes and behaviors.

Local Resilience

Anthropologist Stefana Broadbent and Food Urbanist Carolyn Steel reflected on the social and urban consequences of the industrial revolution on modern society. Carolyn proposed o new sustainable urban model, which she calls Sitopia, while Eric Sanderson, from the Mannahatta project, showed many views of a lost Manhattan but also a balanced vision for the future. But the most interesting thing was to see how many of these ideas in urban agriculture and local resilience were put into practice by Architect Bjarke Ingels, who delivered an outstanding presentation.

Measure results, not time

Just as Daniel Pink described how many companies are now realizing that employees should not be measured by how many hours they work but by the results of their work (apparently obvious, but not quite), it reminded me of Stefan Sagmeister’s talk on the very first day. Sagmeister explained how every 7 years he closes his design studio and takes a 1-year sabbatical and that most of his ideas come from that period. Very enticing…

The Power of Narrative

Emmanuel Jal and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie delivered powerful stories from a continent that tends to be highly neglected and misunderstood. Emmanuel’s war child story was emocional and extreme, but his message went beyond a personal testimony, making a wide appeal to the TED community: “The importance of education for me is what I’m willing to die for, because I know what it can do for my people. You’re killing a whole generation by just giving aid. If you want to help, give education”. Besides receiving a standing ovation from the audience, Emmanuel was later that day awarded with €10,000 for his education initiative. I was truly impressed by TED promptness in supporting such an incredible cause. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie talked on the last night of TED Global, in the beautiful Sheldonian Theatre, addressing the African stereotype as the result of a narrow westernized view, where one story is many times taken as the whole story.

Other Talks

90-year-old Elaine Morgan delivered a convincing argument for the Aquatic Ape hypothesis.

Cary Fowler, from the Global Crop Diversity Trust, talked about the amazing Artic Seed Vault.

Architect Magnus Larsson is trying to gather support for his enormous project - a sand wall across the entire Sahara desert. More info

Photographer James Balog talked about the Extreme Ice Survey, the most wide-ranging glacier study ever conducted using ground-based, real-time photography.

Neuroscientist Henry Markram showed us some stricking images from the Blue Brain Project, featured 3 times in VisualComplexity.

Impressive photography by Taryn Simon.



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