Thursday 14 June 2012

Eight Great TED Talks I've Watched Recently

TED talks. What a wonderful way to explore new ideas. Online videos that are interesting, inspiring, educational and thought-provoking. And since I've downloaded the (free) TED app on my phone I can save a library of talks to watch or listen to later, without needing an internet connection. But there are currently 1100+ talks available. Which ones to choose? 

Here are some of the talks I’ve recently watched. Do you have any recommendations for TED talks? Please add them to the comments section.

Eli Pariser: Beware online filter bubbles (9 mins)

February 2011
"Facebook was looking at which links I clicked on, and it was noticing that I was clicking more on my liberal friends’ links than on my conservative friends’ links. And without consulting me about it, it had edited them [the conservatives] out. They disappeared."
A thought provoking talk on how the flow of information online is changing as services (such as news and search results) are being tailored to individual preferences by companies like Google and Facebook. Eli Pariser argues that we need the web to introduce us to new ideas, new people and different perspectives. And he’s worried that is happening less and less with these ‘filter bubbles’.

JP Rangaswami: Information is food (8 mins)

March 2012
"When I saw ‘Supersize Me,’ I started thinking, now what would happen if an individual had 31 days of nonstop Fox News?"
Questioning how we consume data, JP Rangaswami compares it to how we consume food. He has some sharp and funny insights about information.

Chimamanda Adichie: The danger of a single story (19 mins)

July 2009
"Stories matter. Many stories matter. Stories have been used to dispossess and to malign, but stories can also be used to empower and to humanize. Stories can break the dignity of a people, but stories can also repair that broken dignity."
Novelist Chimamanda Adichie grew up in Nigeria reading British and American children's books. So when she started writing stories at the age of seven, they featured white-skinned, blue-eyed children who played in the snow. Never mind that she had never seen the snow. Then she discovered African books. This talk examines how our lives and cultures are composed of a multiplicity of stories about each other, and warns of the danger of the 'single story'. 

Chip Kidd: Designing books is no laughing matter. OK, it is. (17 mins)

March 2012
"Much is to be gained by eBooks: ease, convenience, portability. But something is definitely lost: tradition, a sensual experience, the comfort of thingy-ness — a little bit of humanity."
Chip Kidd takes you on a tour of the book covers he has created – with a sense of humour that makes this topic come to life. A fascinating insight into design that made me look twice at the cover of the novel I’m currently reading.

Brewster Kahle: A digital library, free to the world (20 mins)

December 2007
"I'm a librarian, and what I'm trying to do is bring all of the works of knowledge to as many people as want to read them. And the idea of using technology is perfect for us.... I'm going to try to argue only one point today: that universal access to all knowledge is within our grasp."
The founder of the Internet Archive shares his ideas about digital libraries, and the importance of archiving our online history.

William Kamkwamba: How I harnessed the wind (5 mins)

July 2009

At fourteen, William Kamkwamba made a windmill to provide electricity and pump water for his family in Malawi. How did he do it? Based on books he got from his school library. This talk reminds me that access to information matters.

Susan Cain: The power of introverts (19 mins)

March 2012
"There's zero correlation between being the best talker and having the best ideas."
Do we design our schools and workplaces for extroverts? If so, does this bias waste the talent and energy (and happiness) of introverts? Cain argues that culturally we need a much better balance when it comes to creating space for introverts.

Solitude and quiet are becoming harder to find in our connected, socially networked world and it’s refreshing to hear someone passionately advocate that they still matters. Oh, and I love that she brought a suitcase full of books onto stage with her!

Amit Sood: Building a museum of museums on the web (5 mins)

March 2011

Amit Sood explains where his idea for Google’s Art Project came from. One word: access. If you haven’t played around with Google’s Art Project this is a great introduction to it.

One last thing - take a look at the new site TEDEd: Lessons Worth Sharing. It's a wonderful resource for students and educators. You can customise lessons, take a quiz after watching a talk or delve deeper into a topic. 

Sarah Fearnley

Sarah is an Events Officer for the ALIA Sydney Committee. She works at the University of Western Sydney Library. Her substantive position is as a Digital Librarian; however she is currently on secondment as a Liaison Librarian.  All opinions expressed are her own.


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  2. I think one of my favourite TedTalks would have to be the following:
    It's by a guy called Luis von Ahn and it is incredibly inspiring as you see the way in which they are using CAPTCHA in a variety of amazing ways.

  3. My all time favourite?

    My most recent must watch? Lorimer Moseley on the psychology of pain... I was lucky enough to see this one live and he was PERFECT!

  4. I remember being absolutely blown away by the idea of the 'flipped classroom' in Salman Khan's TED talk
    This is one of the best things about TED Ed, which I will have to spend some more time exploring!