I can honestly say that I was astonished by this. A continual, unrelenting, stream of rhythm and rhyme for over two minutes which weaves in and out of a fantasy scenario of mockingbirds as recording devices while making references to a slew of TED talks from the same conference.
Of all the talks I have watched so far, this is the only one I want to watch again, straight away. I can’t offer higher praise than that.
Definitely back to the kind of talk which TED is famous for: Ric Elias: 3 things I learned while my plane crashed. Ric gives a razor-sharp view of his near-death experience, and the things he took from it. They are the same kinds of things that often occur to people facing their end, but it still feels as if we all need to be reminded. Savour every moment, don’t put things off, there’s no room for negativity, and be the best parent you can..
This was a bit of a surprise. Among all the worthy talks I didn’t realise that there are also comedy routines, songs and other stuff in the TED archive. I found Ze Frank’s stand-up routine pretty funny, although not really as “nerdcore” as it could be be – there is typically more nerd comedy in an episode of “Big Bang Theory”.
In this case reading the comment stream did not seem to add much. Many of the commenters don’t seem to like his humour, and unlike some of the other talks there’s not much development of the ideas in the presentation to be done. Fun, but not thought-provoking.
I’ll admit I am doing a bit of catching up here, having missed a day or two, but I’ll be back on track soon.
For day five I chose VS Ramachandran: The neurons that shaped civilization. This talk introduces the idea of “mirror neurons”, elements of the brain which trigger when observing other people’s behaviour, and goes on to imply that the existence and sophistication of this brain biology is what enabled the spread of human learning and the development of culture. As far as that goes I generally agree. Later in the talk he gets a bit metaphysical, deducing from some mirror neuron behaviour in cases of amputated or anaesthetised limbs that all people are linked.
Today’s talk was another short one, this one about 3.5 minutes. The idea was interesting – a relatively low cost cooling unit that “charges” itself in a cooking fire, then can be used to keep a big drum container cool for 24 hours.
Pitched at storing vaccines away from power, and also preventing food decay and disease it seems to address a need, but (as the comments point out) there are economic and financial issues as well as an apparent lack of progress in the intervening four years. This idea may not be a “go-er” after all. Shame.
Another pretty much random choice of a talk to watch, this one Charles Limb: Building the musical muscle) surprised me because it was not what I expected. From the title I expected something a bit more about the psychology of music or the brain’s perception of music, but what I got was a fairly detailed talk about cochlear implants as an approach to restoring hearing loss.
The main thrust of the talk was to demonstrate that while even the best current implants can greatly improve perception of speech, they fail miserably at all aspects of music – to the extent that many implant users find music co uncomfortable that they prefer not to listen to it.
Overall, I’m sure I learned something about the current state of hearing restoration surgery and its limitations, but this talk was not one which inspired me to think differently.
So, pretty much at random I chose another TED talk video to watch. This time it was John Bohannon: Dance vs. powerpoint, a modest proposal.
I found the talk interesting, thought-provoking, and decidedly tongue-in-cheek (the reference to Swift in the title gives that away). Although the apparent premise (use dancers instead of powerpoint) has many flaws, the underlying theme is fascinating. Hard science and dance are traditionally seen as so far apart as to be completely incompatible, yet here is a presentation which successfully conveys some quite complex physics with no diagrams or equations, just a few well chosen words and some moving bodies.
I am left with echoes of a discussion earlier today on the subject of whether software development can be art. The same sense of unexpected juxtaposition evokes interesting and thoughful perspectives which may lead to innovation. For me, that is the true value of this talk.
One my video site I have just completed Vlomo. Vlomo is one of the many “every day in November” challenges, along with NaNoWriMo, NabloPoMo, Movember and so on.
The end of November can be a bit of a let-down, though. One way or another the challenge is over.
While discussing this with a colleague recently, we hit on the idea of watching one of the TED talk videos each day in December, and blogging about it. This is a great idea both for learning and for getting back into the practice of reflective blogging.
I have decided to label this challenge “TEDcember”, and I will be using this tag in tweets and blog posts. Feel free to join in!
So, with all that in mind, Steve chose Matt Cutts: Try something new for 30 days as a first talk to watch, and then blogged about it. I was already running a little behind, so (on the premise that it is an appropriate starting point I watched the same one.
Guess what. This is my blog about it.
The talk was obviously motivating. After all I’m sitting here trying something new for 30 days, just as suggested. Two bits of the talk struck me particularly strongly, though. The first was the way that the speaker was happy to admit that his NaNoWriMo novel was rubbish, but that the process of producing it was valuable. This is something which I have found again and again during vlomo. The second stand-out point was the aggregate value of multiple such challenges. It’s so easy to concentrate on one challenge at a time and miss the big picture. The very act of continuing to take on month-long challenges, especially ones which are outside a normal “comfort zone” develops confidence and a sense of worth, even for the challenges which don’t work out.
And that’s the real reason why I felt compelled to roll off Vlomo and into TEDcember. To keep up the momentum of personal development. Let’s see how we get on…
The guys at ebay have released ql.io, which seems to be a way of using SQL-like queries to fetch and join data (typically in the form of JSON, it seems) from multiple web APIs to generate quick “mashups”.
I can’t help thinking that there are a lot of hidden issues around API compatibility and conflicts, as well as the complexity of specifying increasingly tricky business processes, though. All these issues have been encountered in the XML workflow and process modelling world.
This certainly looks an interesting way to get started quickly with quite a broad class of mashup applications, though.