Thursday, June 21, 2007

TED talks

Ever heard of TED Conference? That’s TECHNOLOGY. EDUCATION. DESIGN, an annual conference that is headquartered in California. A friend’s lead brought me to the non-profit foundation’s website where its stated aims include the spread of ideas to change the world. You can find out all about it here and and their blog here.

What immediately caught my attention was its series of talks which are archived on the site. More than 100 talks from some of the world’s most innovative thinkers and performers may be viewed or downloaded here. Fascinating. Even inspiring.It’s almost like YouTube with brains. Its PR blurb gushes that TED represents a gathering of “remarkable people exchanging ideas of incalculable value.”

I would certainly agree that, yes, they’ve got a slate of extraordinary people who are completely engaging in their scale and scope, covering global issues from a wide range of communities and disciplines.Whether their ideas are of incalculable value is, erm, for you to decide. Most of the talks and performances average 18 minutes. But a lot are longer. Here are a few I caught that was so stimulating I was hooked for nearly an hour:

Rachelle Garneiz (accompanied by Thomas Dolby). Quirky NY singer whose offbeat performance of the Edith Piaf standard "La Vie en Rose" started with a sweet but loopy bell-ringing prelude.

Richard Dawkins throws down the gauntlet, urges worldwide opposition to theism and their crackpot proponents. But atheists need of a rallying new war cry (‘atheism’ just doesn’t hack it) and lots of funding, the trenchant Darwinists admits.

Hans Rosling demonstrates a new stats software that turns figures into animated globules and graphic flotsam. Using UN data from the early 60s to the year 2000, he argues that the so-called third world gaps are already narrowing.

The deaf percussionist Evelyn Glennie explains how music may be experienced as a multiple range of vibrations. This renowned musician also demonstrates her prowess on the snare drum and marimba in her talk.

British singer/songwriter/cellist Caroline Lavelle enchants on her cello and with her haunting vocals. Spellbinding. Made me do a search on her and promised myself to get her music very soon.

In the archives, Dawkins speaks more than once, while fellow atheist Dan Dennet gives Rick Warren a thrashing. Also interestingly, Rev Tom Honey (who’s presently vicar of CS Lewis’s church) wonders if God and the recent tsunami devastation shouldn't drive Christians out of their traditional boxes in search of deeper truths.

All in, very stimulating. Makes for good conversations and discussions.

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