Friday, March 20, 2015

On the road again: TEDActive, Whistler, day 5

For this last day of the conference, the TED organizers tried something new:  a single two-and-a-half-hour session, Endgame, with only a five-minute bio break in the middle.  The plan worked well, at least in my opinion, and the talks were awesome.

They opened incredibly strong with a presentation by 2014 Nobel Peace Prize winner Kailash Satyarthi.  He talked about what fuels him and has always kept him going:  anger.  As you might imagine, I could relate to this motivator.  He argued that you should use anger to power you to create ideas and then to take actions on those ideas.  Again, I can relate.  His story started from the moment his activism began as a fifteen-year-old and ran to the present day.  Though he was not the most dynamic speaker, I was fascinated by all he has done.  Don't miss this one when it goes live. 

The organizers wisely turned to something completely different--music--after this talk.  Aloe Blacc came onstage and performed several songs, including the wildly popular "Wake Me Up."  I'd heard him in person last night, but I still enjoyed hearing him again. 

Next up was British neuroscientist, laughter researcher, and occasional stand-up comic, Sophie Scott.  She did a great job of weaving interesting information with jokes and left me wanting to learn more about the science of laughter. 

Dame Ellen MacArthur then took the stage to tell us first about her time setting a record for solo sailing around the world and then her ongoing efforts to create what she calls a "circular" economy.  The sailing parts were the most compelling bits, because the economic sections were (probably unavoidably) short on detail, but I quite enjoyed her presentation.

For the fifth talk of the morning, Chris Anderson came onstage to say that though the person involved had not been able to fit TED into his schedule, he had agreed to an exclusive taped interview a few months ago.  Anderson then rolled an entertaining and touching video of a chat he had with the Dalai Lama.  "Happiness is the purpose of life," the Dalai Lama said, and then he explained further what he meant. 

In a sobering but intriguing talk, B.J. Miller, a palliative caregiver who himself nearly died in college--and who did lose big parts of three limbs in the accident that almost killed him--talked about death and how we deal with it.  This one wasn't always comfortable to watch, but like all the others today, I recommend it. 

Author and comedian and MIT Director's Fellow Baratunde Thurston turned in an often hysterically funny wrap-up of the conference.  I don't know if they post these wrap-ups online, but if they do, do not miss this one. 

After a quick lunch, we did email at the hotel until the car arrived to take us back to Vancouver.  We're staying in the hotel that is quite literally in the airport, but it's a nice and quiet place nonetheless.  Exactly what do I mean by "in" the airport?  Here's the view through my room's floor-to-ceiling window.

Yeah, we are definitely part of the airport.

Tomorrow, I get up in the sixes (about five hours from now) to start the very long journey home.

I'm very happy to be going home, but I'm also very glad I was able to go to TEDActive.  I hope to do so next year. 

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