If you enjoy learning about trends, technologies, and ideas that will be shaping our lives and culture, check out the videos posted on TED.com.
TED is a nonprofit organization devoted to “Ideas Worth Spreading.” It originated in 1984 as a conference for leading thinkers in Technology, Entertainment, and Design, and has since broadened its scope. TED now conducts two annual conferences, offers other idea-sharing platforms, and covers topics such as business, culture, science, and global issues.
TED.com was designed as a clearinghouse of free knowledge and inspiration from the world’s most inspired thinkers. It was also developed to enable curious souls to engage with ideas and each other.
On TED.com, you can watch videocasts of some of best talks and performances from TED conferences. Each talk is no longer than 18 minutes long. The interactive transcripts that accompany the videos enable you to preview the key points in the talk.
Two talks that caught my attention recently were given by sculptor Janet Echelman and author Eli Pariser.
Janet Echelman: Taking Imagination Seriously
In this nine-minute video, self-taught artist Janet Echelman tells the story of her first creative breakthrough into sculpture and how it became a catalyst for monumental artworks that were commissioned in Portugal, Phoenix Civic Space Park, the Vancouver Winter Olympics, and at the San Francisio International Airport.
She recalled walking through a fishing village in India and recognizing the latent beauty and sculptural possibilities in fishing nets. “I’d seen it every day,” she explained. “But this time, I saw it differently—a new approach to sculpture, a way to create volumetric form without heavy solid materials.” With the help of local fishermen, she used the ancient knotting craft to produce a billowing sculptural self-portait entitled “Wide Hips.” Today Echelman is internationally known for her place-making sculptures that transform urban environments.
Eli Pariser: Beware of “Filter Bubbles”
He talks about some of the unintended consequences that are occurring now that web companies use algorithms to predict what type of content they think we want to see while filtering out other information we should see. As as example, he shows the vastly different results two individuals received after searching for the word “Egypt.”
Pariser contends that when online companies “personalize” our content for us (without our knowledge or consent), we get trapped in a “filter bubble” and don’t get exposed to information that could challenge or broaden our worldview. He believes this will ultimately prove to be bad for us and bad for democracy.
“We really need the Internet to be that thing we all dreamed of it being,” said Pariser. “We need it to connect us all together. We need it to introduce us to new ideas and new people and different perspectives. And it’s not going to do that if it leaves us all isolated in a Web of one.”