Friday, February 12, 2010

On the road again: TEDActive, day 5

The sessions started early again today, so I was up even earlier doing email and working. This morning was different from all the others, however, because the sessions were part of what the TED organizers call TEDYou, which here at Palm Springs meant a set of talks by people in our group.

First up, though, was a surprise visit from TED's Curator, Chris Anderson. In a move he should have made last year, he came here, thanked the attendees, spoke for a while, and answered some questions. Good on him.

The on-site speakers who followed generally did good jobs. Though I didn't have time to get their names, which were also not in the program, two stood out.

One gave a very funny presentation in which he analyzed the text and appearance of many TED talks and used the results of that analysis to offer recommendations for ways to give the best and worst TED talks. (Want to dress the way the previous best speakers did? Wear your hair slightly longer than usual for your gender and dress up slightly more than the rest of the TED attendees.)

Another talk showed off the new ability of some SeaWorld dolphins to create bubble rings. These rings are beautiful, and the dolphins play with them. After one dolphin, Calypso, figured out how to make them, other dolphins learned from her--but only female dolphins. Males can't do it.

From the main TED program, which resumed after TEDYou, here are the usual few visual snapshots.

John Underkoffler demonstrated a working version of the UI from the film, The Minority Report. Cool stuff, though I'm not yet convinced it would be as efficient for most normal business tasks as a mouse and keyboard.

Bill Gates focused on energy and presented us with a major challenge: We have 20 years to begin deployment of the technologies that will take carbon emissions to zero and 40 years to be at zero. He made a compelling case for making nuclear power a key player in this future.

Temple Grandin's talk was a wild ride but an interesting one. I really do have to wonder if we're not trying way too hard to use drugs to make all our minds fit some putative norm.

Chris Anderson of Wired magazine (and not the TED Chris Anderson) demoed his publication's upcoming (in the summer) iPad version, and it was very cool indeed. As paper magazines die, what will replace them has the potential to be visually stunning.

David Byrne, Thomas Dolby, and Ethel opened the last session, which focused on entertainment. I loved their music, found Sarah Silverman as funny and as offensive as always, continued to think Eve Ensler is nowhere near as good a writer as most people seem to find her, and enjoyed Natalie Merchant's performance, though I wish she could have been a bit nicer to the audience and the stagehands.

After the sessions, we dashed to our rooms, called home, and then boarded a bus for our last-night-of-TED desert party. We rode for half an hour or so and finally came to a very tourist-y place set right on the San Andreas fault. Despite the faux Western structures, the atmosphere was cool and even at times trippy, as you can see in this first photo. The colored lights certainly amplified that effect. The food was tasty, and the band, String Theory, played some music I quite enjoyed.

I even socialized, so relax all who wrote me concerned that I wasn't doing so.

We left on the early side, because work and the book beckoned, but I enjoyed seeing the place, listening to the music, and talking to a few of my fellow TEDsters.

The morning--and final--sessions begin in just over six hours, and I still have work to do, so off I go.

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