Saturday, February 13, 2010

On the road again: TEDActive, day 6

TED 2010 is over. As usual, I'm mentally exhausted, full of notions and emotions that will take me a long time to process. And, yes, I'm already looking forward to 2011's conference, for which I registered and paid a couple of weeks ago.

Before I give today's verbal snapshots, I need to mention an important observation from yesterday that I forgot to include in last night's post: Sergey Brin, like Kyle, wears toe shoes. Sergey was sporting his black pair when Chris Anderson interviewed him on the TED stage yesterday. Kyle, you are not alone!

Now, on to a few highlights from today's two sets of sessions.

Philip K. Howard made a compelling and well-considered case for major legal reform. At the risk of upsetting him or some other lawyer, I'm going to reproduce here his four propositions:

"1) Judge law mainly by its effect on society, not individual situations.

2) Trust in law is an essential condition of freedom. Distrust skews behavior toward failure.

3) Law must set boundaries protecting an open field of freedom, not intercede in all disputes.

4) To rebuild boundaries of freedom, two changes are essential:
* Simplify the law

* Restore authority to judges and officials to apply the law."
Yes, I know that's really five points; he is a lawyer, after all.

Seriously, when his talk appears on, definitely check it out.

Chip Conley argued that rather than focusing so much on our GDP, we as a country should pay more attention to our Gross National Happiness. I know it sounds like a hippy-dippy notion, but it's not; he uses real metrics to gauge this very thing in his extremely successful business.

James Cameron's eighteen minutes were illuminating, interesting, insightful, and very definitely worth watching. He was a childhood SF fan who never stopped being one. One thing I learned is that one of his major motivations for making Titanic was to get a studio to pay the expenses for him to dive the original wreck.

He also supplied one of my favorite lines of the conference, one I am going to be working hard to take to heart:
"In whatever you're doing, failure is an option, but fear is not."
Okay, I've changed my mind: James Cameron, would you please direct Will Smith in the first of the many Jon & Lobo movies?

John Kasaona showed us how he had attacked so successfully the problem of conservation in Namibia and how the lessons of his work could help all of us.

In a talk filmed at a Tuesday morning Palm Springs TEDYou session I now regret having skipped, Glenna Fraumeni, a Nurse Practioner student, discussed the brain cancer that will kill her in less than two years. Her choice of how to spend the time: living normally, going to school, helping others. To say she was inspirational is, of course, to indulge in vast understatement. Remarkable.

Perhaps the most polished of the conference's many speakers was the remarkable Sir Ken Robinson, who spoke eloquently and entertainingly on the need for massive education reform. He said that we've created a fast-food, factory model of one-size-fits-all education, and instead we need a vastly more customized system that accommodates the incredible diversity of human talents and passions. His TED talk from some years ago was one of the first to go public and has since drawn a huge audience, and I definitely understand why.

Youg Adora Svitak noted that education should be reciprocal and that grown-ups should be learning from kids. She was amazing.

Ze Frank gave a wrap-up talk/comedy act that mashed up a great many of the previous presentations and was vastly entertaining. I was dead impressed by this guy's skill at weaving the talks and his commentary into a routine that left us all laughing until we hurt.

We at Palm Springs closed the show with a made-, written-, drawn-, performed-, recorded, and edited-here music video, "What the World Needs Now." To my surprise, I quite liked it.

We then migrated to the pool for lunch and final conversations.

I'll definitely be back.

For now, though, I have some of the remastered mono Beatles albums playing on the JBL travel speakers via my iPod nano, I'm catching up on work, and I'm hoping I will emerge from this experience a better person. I aim to try.


Kyle said...

Sergey Brin wears toe shoes. I wear toe shoes. Sergey Brin has his own personal 747. I have a thirteen-year-old Saturn. We're like soulmates!

Mark said...

Exactly my point!

Jeremy S said...

You can find a transcript of Chip Conley's talk and information about how Bhutan actually measures happiness at

Mark said...

Thanks for the info, Jeremy.

Anonymous said...

Mark, I am so glad that my words meant something to you. Keep doing your thing! -Glenna

Mark said...

And you, Glenna.


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