18 Minutes of Fireworks: Ted Talks

Posted on 20 April 2011

Just heard about a great website on Vermont NPR.  Their motto is: “Ideas worth spreading”, with the mission: “Bring big ideas to everyone”.  The basic concept is that by sharing 18-minute, thoughtful and animated talks on various topics of our day online, anyone who visits the site can benefit from information and be inspired to act, change or just laugh.  The speakers are from around the world and include some of the top academics, professionals and thinkers of our time.  Known in some circles as a “spa for your brain.  It’s great!  It’s Ted Talks.  Check it out.

For example, one incredible post lauded by NPR: the Virtual Choir, a compilation of 2,000 voices from around the world singing a single piece of music that was compiled from individual recordings.  Complete with video of the individual singers!  Bizarre, a little creepy (especially the floating conductor), and very new age: the realization of an inherently communal activity entirely lacking in social contact, through the power of technology alone.  Wow.  Watch the video here, and hear the creator talking about it, here.

Another neat one they mentioned on NPR is about ants and how they know what to do without the use of language, memory or leadership.  Watch it here.

One I loved: Stuart Brown discussing the importance of play and what it means to our happiness and education, as people as well as animals.  According to him, play is something for its own sake rather than for any specific purpose.  Moral of the story: PLAY MORE!  Learn more about it here.

For the anthropologically-inclined, there’s one with Jane Goodall speaking on what separates humans from apes (including her best imitation of the classic chimp greeting!)  Excellent.  She also discusses some of the most disturbing trends in resource management around the world; and gives a hopeful message about how we, as humans, have the power to change where we’re heading.  Watch it here.

Another one I enjoyed: an alternately funny, sad and interesting talk on dogs and dog-training, given by a veterinarian, dog trainer and animal behaviorist.  Watch it here.

And, last one—I promise!  I’ll let you explore it on your own, from here—an excellent talk on “5 Dangerous Things you Should Let Your Kids Do”.  YES!  We need more of this out there.  Watch it here.

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