TED 2009 Highlights: Day 1
A cultural dialogue on sex, Bill Gates releases more bugs into the world, and lots of caffeine.
By Maria Popova
Let’s get one thing out of the way first — live-blogging TED turned out to be much harder than we thought, especially fighting the 10-hour time difference and Red-Bulling our way to the dog hours of the morning. But it was tremendously exciting.
You can check the speaker schedule for the line-up, but be sure to catch on our real-time updates, as there were a number of surprise appearances, including two of our greatest heroes: Al Gore, who gave us an even more chilling update on global warming, and Yves Behar, who unveiled his latest project — the fully electric Mission One motorcycle, a beautifully designed 150-mph wonder.
But perhaps the most noteworthy of the day’s wildcards was a short cameo by professional jaw-dropper Cindy Gallop, who unveiled her new site, MakeLoveNotPorn.com — a humorously framed yet enormously culturally ambitious project that takes the myths of pornography and balances them with the reality of sex.
Gallop talked about the failure of cultural institutions to address the issue of sex adequately, especially to teenagers.
So it’s not surprising that hard pornography has, in effect, become sexual education.
The site even invites visitors to submit their own porn myth busts, which Gallop hopes would create an open dialogue about the cultural meaning of sex. And this — the ability to create an open forum for a cultural taboo — is just one of the billion reasons we love TED.
Another delight — despite our initial skepticism — was Bill Gates, who not only managed to release a box of very real mosquitoes into the audience while talking about malaria mortality, but also cracked a rather hilarious impromptu joke during the Q&A at the end: Chris asked him what he’d like written on his tombstone when he dies “in 10 or 15 years,” to which Gates responded with something to the effect of:
10 or 15? I certainly hope I live longer than that. So, in that case, it’ll say “Check my pulse!”
A geek god, an iconic philanthropist, and now a standup comic? Who new. Even we in the vicious Mac camp have to give it to the guy.
Finally, two simply titled yet truly promising Earth-centric documentaries were revealed. Home, by Yann Arthus-Bertrand, explores life on Earth from a bird’s eye perspective, showcasing phenomenal aerial landscapes that are disappearing before our eyes.
Oceans, produced by the amazing Jake Eberts in collaboration with Jacques Perrin, was edited down from over 300 hours of footage from a worldwide deep-ocean expedition costing $75 million. From the phenomenal cinematography to the pure stride-stopping brilliance of the Blue Planet that it captures, Oceans is an absolute must-see.
And while both films are a gloomy reminder that we’re going faster than the planet can sustain, they also do something much more valuable: Give us hope there is still time to avoid disaster.
We’ll be live-blogging today as well, so be sure to follow us on Twitter if you’re into, you know, hearing stuff before everyone else does.
Published February 5, 2009