Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘TED’

20 JULY, 2009

Behind the Scenes of TED


Why TED is really in the package design business.

We’re off to TEDGlobal for what’s bound to be the intellectual equivalent of a Roman feast. Starting tomorrow, you’ll be able to follow along with exclusive daily updates, highlights and photos here on Brain Pickings.

But, in the meantime, what better way to celebrate the tremendously fascinating week ahead than with a special behind-the-scenes look at all the incredible energy — physical, intellectual, emotional — that goes into the making of a TED talk?

In a way, this only confirms our belief that TED is very much in the package design business.

TED takes what’s already out there — most speakers have published extensive books, written dry research papers, even given long talks at other conferences — and packages it brilliantly and beautifully. Stuffed in a bite-sized 18-minute box, glossed with shiny production value, and placed in the exuberant context of the (as some would argue, “cultish”) conference itself, each talk is a premium package that makes the ideas inside all the more appealing. It makes them feel richer and more valuable and more meaningful, and thus, it makes them matter more.

And when ideas matter to us, we internalize them, we propagate and advocate them, we tell our friends about them, we make them — truly — ideas worth spreading.

So here’s to intellectual package design — the true currency of ideas.

via TEDBlog

08 JULY, 2009

Mapping Big Ideas: BIGVIZ


200 pages of world-changing thinking, or what a sheep and a dog have to do with universal compassion.

When two of our favorite ideas — TED and data visualization — converge, it’s a beautiful thing. Naturally, we’re all over BIGVIZ — an ambitious effort by the fine folks at Autodesk, who took it upon themselves to visualize the entire 2008 TED conference.

BIGVIZ is the work of visual cartographers David Sibbet and Kevin Richards, who created over 700 spontaneous sketches in real time at TED. The 200-page PDF book — a free download — visually captures the gist of each speaker’s talk, mapping out the broader themes and the connections between them.

You’ll also find a number of fascinating charts and graphs on information patterns, some rather humorous illustrations of memorable TED moments, and even a few blank pages for you to sketch whatever ideas, connections or insights the talks may have sparked in you.

Go behind the scenes with the Autodesk team as they create the visualizations on-site, using multi-touch technology to interact with the sketches and view them as a history timeline or an interactive digital corkboard. Then, download BIGVIZ and enjoy.

And in case you’re wondering just why this visualization model works, watch information designer Tom Wujec’s excellent short TED talk about the 3 ways the brain creates meaning out of words, images, feelings, connections.

17 JUNE, 2009

Clay Shirky on Social Media, News and the Democratic Process


The news on news, or what Twitter has to do with democracy.

Today’s continuation of video week is a particularly timely piece of sociocultural commentary — Clay Shirky’s TED@State talk about how cell phones, Twitter and Facebook are changing the world. Timely not only because those of us in the modern democratic world are completely immersed in these technologies, but mostly because we’re beginning to see them as tools of citizen activism and freedom of speech in areas where the democratic process falls short — most recently, the case of the social-media-powered Iranian national strike.

Media, the media landscape that we knew, as familiar as it was, as easy conceptually as it was to deal with the idea that professionals broadcast messages to amateurs, is increasingly slipping away. In a world where media is global, social, ubiquitous and cheap, in a world of media where the former audience are now increasingly full participants, in that world, media is less and less often about crafting a single message to be consumed by individuals. It is more and more often a way of creating an environment for convening and supporting groups.” ~ Clay Shirky

Although the idea isn’t new to those of us who have been paying attention in the past couple of years, Shirky contextualizes it in a way that points to the ever more rapidly impeding end of top-down news, which is in turn effecting the next big leap in the evolution of politics.

Watch, appreciate the era we live in, and go tweet about it.

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