Online Talks

Synopses and reviews of TED talks and similar things

Sarah Kay - If I should have a daughter

Sarah Kay is an amazing spoken word artist. She begins with a beautiful poem (and also ends with one). In the middle, she has a description of her own reaction to spoken word, the importance of it, and how she teaches it. I highly recommend watching it (at least the poem at the start).

Scilla Elworthy: Fighting with non-violence

Bullies use violence in three ways: political violence intimidates, physical violence terrorizes, and mental or emotional violence undermines. Using more violence usually isn't the best answer to violence.

What are some effective nonviolent strategies?

The change that takes place has to occur on an individual level through self-knowledge. Soldiers are often afraid, and if users of nonviolence can master their self knowledge and master fear, they can avert a violent situation.

Ramesh Raskar: Imaging at a trillion frames per second

Femto photography (femto means trillionth) lets you create slow motion videos of light in motion. That means that we can actually see how light moves around. We can see inside people without an Xray because some light bounces around inside you. We can see around the corner by looking at how light bounces off things around corners (or build medical technology or make a way for disaster responders to find people inside burning buildings). We can make art. Also, because we're recording at close to the speed of light, we get relativistic effects.

Malte Spitz: Your phone company is watching

Spitz discussed an EU law that requires phone companies and ISPs to store 6 months to 2 years of information on everyone. He sued his phone company (the company that owns T Mobile) to get the information they had on him. He then talked with a company and made a public visualization about it. As a result, you can see exactly where he was for 6 months of his life. He thinks that governments knowing where you are, what you're doing, and who is talking to whom (and thus who the leaders are in any social group) has scary 1984 possibilities.

James Stavridis - How NATO's Supreme Commander thinks about global security

NATO's 20th century strategy was building walls.  That led to a lot of death.  Instead, we need to build bridges with what Stavridis, the NATO supreme commander, calls open source security.

He identifies threats to the global commons: piracy in the seas, cyber crimes (which are a $2trillion per year industry), drug, weapon, and human trafficking.  While there is a need for strong military, we won't deliver security solely from military means.  We need international "public private partnerships for strategic communication on the internet."  

Vinay Venkatraman - Technology Crafts for the Digitally Underserved

Venkatraman talked about little shops in the developing world that fix broken electronics. They have a culture where they fix things locally and use cheap fabrication. During the industrial revolution, people made stuff at home, and now people are doing the same thing – tinkering. Venkatraman worked to repurpose some technology to make a cell phone projector lunch box that can bring video to classrooms in India. He also made an alarm clock mouse microcontroller that can provide cheap health diagnostics.

Neil Harbisson - I Listen to Color

Harbisson was born color blind, but he found a computer scientist, attached a camera to his head, and attached it to a chip in his skull. Now, the chip emits sounds based on the colors in the camera, and his brain can interpret the sounds as colors. He decided that he wanted more than the visible spectrum, so he added on infrared and ultraviolet.

He talked about a lot of the ways that hearing color has changed his perspective. Someone might have an ugly face that sounds beautiful. He stopped coordinating his dress based on color and started coordinating it based on sound.

Homaro Cantu + Ben Roche - Cooking as Alchemy

Cantu and Roche own a restaurant where they take random ingredients and make them taste like other things. They made hay and crab apples taste like barbeque sauce; they made watermelon look, taste, and behave like tuna; they made beets, barley, and corn into a burger patty.

The wonders of science!

Hans Rosling - Public Health Statistics

Hans Rosling is a public health statistician. He talks about the millennium development goals and gives meaning to some numbers in global public health. He has lots of very nice, colorful bubble charts!

In particular, he confronts the notion of western and developing countries. Towards the end, there is a graph that shows decrease in child mortality over time for every country, and the trends are amazing! Then he reads a UN report that labels countries like South Korea, Singapore, and Qatar as developing even though they have a lot of wealth and low child mortality.


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