Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘TED’

15 MAY, 2012

Animated Anatomy of Shakespearean Slurs

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Heartless hinds, fishmongers, and lots of thumb-biting.

Nearly two years ago, The Snark Handbook: Insult Edition gave us high-brow verbal sparring lessons with some of literary history’s finest comebacks, taunts, and effronteries. Now, from educator April Gudenrath and the team at TED-Ed comes this primer on Shakespearean insults, which served to unify the audience and to develop relationships between characters in a very short and sharp way.

Do you bite your thumb at us, sir?

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10 APRIL, 2012

500,000 Strangers’ Secrets: PostSecret Founder Frank Warren at TED

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Cracking open the shell of the human condition.

A friend once told me she believed secrets were these beautiful things that “break” when shared. But the breakage itself can be a thing of beauty.

Since January 1, 2005, strangers have been writing, drawing, collaging, doodling, and otherwise revealing their most tightly guarded secrets on anonymous postcards and mailing them to Frank Warren’s PostSecret project. Last month, Warren took the TED stage to share the remarkable story of this collective exercise in compassion and crack open the shell of the human condition.

Secrets can take many forms. They can be shocking or silly or soulful. They can connect us with our deepest humanity, or with people we’ll never meet.”

The project has since been adapted in a series of books, dancing in visceral detail across the entire spectrum of being human.

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20 MARCH, 2012

The Power of Simple Words, Animated

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Getting from “no coordinates exist like one’s domicile” to “there’s no place like home.”

“Use the right word, not its second cousin,” Mark Twain admonished. “Use short words, short sentences and short paragraphs,” David Ogilvy advised.

Last week, my friends at TED launched TED-Ed — a wonderful new series of short animated videos for high school students and lifelong learners, using visual storytelling to deliver compelling messages in equally compelling ways. To kick off, this lovely video by copywriter Terin Izil, animated by the one and only Sunni Brown (remember her?), makes an appropriately succinct case for using simple words and brevity in writing, in just two minutes.

Variety may be the spice of life, but brevity is its bread and butter. So when it comes to $10 words, save your money and buy a Scrabble board.”

Then again, even E.B. White — the quintessential champion of brevity — felt compelled to play devil’s advocate against brevity for brevity’s sake:

Writing is not an exercise in excision, it’s a journey into sound. How about ‘tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow’? One tomorrow would suffice, but it’s the other two that have made the thing immortal.”

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