Wednesday, February 27, 2013

On the road again: TEDActive, day 4

Today was the kind of day that makes me keep coming back to TED.  Not all of the talks were great--in fact, some were weak--but so many were wonderful that I left the last session filled with ideas and exhilarated at having heard so many excellent presentations. 

Before I mention a few of today's talks, though, I want to point you to the talk from this year's TEDPrize winner, Sugata Mitra:  check it out here.  I'll be very curious to see the results after he's set up his school in the cloud. 

Now, back to today.  Let me just skip through a few of the many notable presentations. 

The TED organizers portrayed Amanda Palmer's talk as being about making digital content free and asking fans to support artists on a patronage basis, but what she really discussed was the connection between artist and fan, the truly personal connection, and the power it brings to both parties. 

I lack the dance vocabulary to understand fully the performance that Rich and Tone Talayega choreographed and had performed for us, but I found it mesmerizing.  

Leyla Acaroglu debunked a great deal of environmental folklore and pointed out that if we really want to help the environment, we have to consider the full lifecycles of our goods--and fundamentally reduce our consumption.

Ron Finley discussed his efforts to grow food in small gardens on public land in South Central LA.  He was forceful, strong, funny, and persuasive. 

Allan Savory fascinated us with his presentation on desertification and his experiments that suggest that the best cure is through the careful management of huge herds of grazing, roaming livestock--quite in contradiction to conventional wisdom. 

We saw young scientists--high-schoolers--doing amazing work, artists, and many others. 

The best talk of the day, though, was from Lawrence Lessig.  He discussed a huge American problem:  the unreasonable influence of a very small number of Americans on elections today.  He pointed out that 132 Americans gave 60% of the money that went to SuperPACs.  This is a problem, he noted, that we can and should fix.  I hope we do. 

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