Sunday, March 27, 2011

Meet TED

Today’s digital world offers so many choices for getting news and entertainment. Not only is there is a seemingly endless number of cable and satellite TV channels, with about 80% of all US households having access to the Internet, the web provides even more options for spending our free time. There are social media sites that many of us visit more than we should. If you are Facebooked out or can’t read one more Tweet, and are looking for some outstanding content on the web, I would like to introduce you to TED. Don’t worry. I am not sending you to a weird dating service. TED is not a guy it is a web site that features videos and discussions that will challenge your brain. TED (Technology Entertainment and Design) began in 1984 as a conference sponsored by the Sapling Foundation. The foundation’s mission is to disseminate "ideas worth spreading.” The initial conference invited the very top minds in the fields of technology, entertainment and design to share ideas, discoveries and inventions. The conferences are still held but videos of the individual presentations are now made available free on the web. Today there are more than 700 videos and the subject matter has broadened. You can find presentations on religion, psychology, astronomy, education, medicine and many other subjects. The great thing about TED is that it invites very best and brightest. Right now you can watch Jane Goodall, Bill Gates, and several Nobel laureates. All you need is a computer and access to a broadband Internet connection. Point your browser to The presentations are very fast paced. TED asks each presenter not to exceed 18 minutes. Some make use of videos and graphics while others stay with a standard lecture format. Each presentation is translated into several languages. There are topics and opinions that will challenge you. All of them will make you think. I have watched several and each of them has been outstanding. You will find a new presentation posted about every day and all of them are archived and searchable by topic or presenter. Two of my favorites were just posted recently. One is a 5 minute presentation by volunteer firefighter Mark Bezos. He tells a story of an act of heroism that didn't go quite as expected -- but that taught him a big lesson: Don't wait to be a hero. In five short minutes he captures the essence of what it means to give back to your community. Perhaps the most jaw dropping talk was by Surgeon Anthony Atala who demonstrated an early-stage experiment that could someday solve the organ-donor problem: a 3D printer that uses living cells to output a transplantable kidney. Using similar technology, Dr. Atala’s young patient Luke Massella received an engineered bladder 10 years ago; we meet him onstage. The next time you find that the 500 channel cable universe offers little to watch or your Twitter account less than stimulating, spend some time with Ted. It will be time well spent.



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