A Little About TED

For about the past week or so I’ve been reading (and often re-reading) entries on both the WorldChanging.com site (Link) and on the TED blog (Link). TED – which stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design – is a conference held each February in Monterey, California which brings together a diverse, elite crowd to basically share ideas and information. I don’t know about previous years, but last year the conference took a decidedly humanitarian slant after U2 singer Bono won one of three TEDprizes and made his “wish”… to be granted by those in attendence (you can learn more about that on the TED website – Link).

This year I suspect there will be continued emphasis on social issues. Rightly so. And one person who will doubtlessly be helping to inform attendees will be WorldChanging’s Jamais Cascio. I don’t know of anyone currently more vocal than he about the potentially positive role technology can play in correcting some of the planet’s most pressing issues.

Because the things on which I am working – or hoping to work – are closely related to a number of things being discussed both on the WorldChanging site and at the TED conference, I’ve been checking the TEDblog for updates. Here are some bits I enjoyed reading taken from the blog (I’ll forego the “blockquote” tag this time):

– “Creativity is now as important in education as literacy, and we should treat it with the same status”. — Ken Robinson

– “The battleground is moving from the physical to the ideological.”—Warfare expert Jim Crupi

– “It’s extremely important to design from within the community.” —MIT inventor Amy Smith, explaining her philosophy on developing tools for third world countries

– “One of the tragic aspects of human-right abuses is that they’re too easily forgotten or denied; but it appears that if there are cameras around, they tend to happen less.” —Peter Gabriel

– “I don’t know if a film can change the world, but I believe it has the ability to take you across borders, into another world, and maybe that has the ability to transform”. —TEDPrize winner and documentary filmmaker Jehane Noujaim

Let me briefly explain why I focused on the above quotes:

– I’m in complete agreement with Ken Robinson.
– I’d extend Jim Crupi’s comment to say this: Business is moving beyond the physicality of things to the exchange of ideas.
– Being familiar with Amy Smith’s work I understand her point, but I’d reframe her comment and flip it on it’s head by saying: As designers we need to realize that we’re all a part of a global community, and that the bigger issue is understanding community hierarchies and interdependencies. If I design a product for the first world which does not consider the impact on the third world (where it is often fabricated in our increasingly global economy), then I do harm to the greater global community. There is no conflict between the idea of designing within a small community to meet its needs while designing for a global community; we’re all part of the same system.
– I like Peter Gabriel’s comment because in essence it’s the meatspace version of online reputation systems. The potential for behavior modification simply by introducing the possibility of destroyed anonymity is profound.
– With regard to Jehane Noujaim, I wonder the same thing – hope the same thing – of virtual world interfaces.