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If you aren’t familiar with TED, check out the previous post: TED, Day 1.

I’ve been able to attend TED this year, with my colleagues at Newell Rubbermaid, via the TED Associates webcast. This year’s conference addresses The Rediscovery of Wonder.

Day Two featured a neuroscientist, cellist, director, designer, inventor, musician, deep-sea explorer, two C-level executives (Ford Motor Co. and PepsiCo) and several educators. It was another incredible day with many take-a-ways. Here’s my personal recap of the Best Of TED Day Two.

Deb Roy, Cognitive scientistDeb Roy
What if you signed on to record every movement within your house, all day, every day, for three years? Why might you want to do that? What would that look like? Deb Roy set up cameras throughout his home in preparation of his son’s birth and recorded over 200 terabytes in three years, resulting in the “world’s largest home video collection.” He, along with his team at MIT, wanted to analyze the birth of a word. He was able to take new words his son was learning and trace them back to how often he heard them, how they were said in conversation, and where in the house they were spoken. In his talk, he played an audio time-lapse of the transformation from “gah-gah” to “water”. It’s pretty amazing. Deb then discussed how his team at MIT is working to apply this technology and tagging of information to public media. He showed social graphs of co-viewing of certain television programs. There wasn’t any new concept discussed here. It was about the importance of influencers, as they affect the most number of other viewers, but he did add a significant amount of data to back this up.
TED Video

Julie Taymor, Director and designerJulie Taymor
This was an impressive walk through Julie Taymor’s portfolio. She showed examples of her stage work in The Tempest, The Lion King, and Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark  and her film work in Across the Universe and The Tempest. One of my favorite quotes from her is about her belief in storytelling:

How you tell the story is equal to the story itself.

You can have an amazing story, but unless you tell it in an incredible way, no one will listen.

Morgan Spurlock, Filmmaker   @morganspurlockMorgan Spurlock
The guy who made Super Size Me is doing it again. He’s making a new documentary film on marketing and product placement that will be called, The Greatest Movie Ever Sold. His goal was to finance the creation of this movie with product placements within the movie itself. He was able to get 17 brands who were interested in this opportunity, but it wasn’t easy. Apparently, most brands were unwilling to participate in this film about product placement and marketing. Why? Transparency. They were uncomfortable with letting a documentary filmmaker in on how their business operates. The film was shown at the Sundance Film Festival and was a great success. It will be released for general viewing in April 2011 and I can’t wait to see what Morgan has come up with in The Greatest Movie Ever Sold.

Terrence McArdie & Ben Newhouse, InventorsTerrence McArdle and Ben Newhouse
A new medium has been invented: Bubbles. No, this isn’t your soapy, sticky bubble. It’s Bubbles, powered by Bubbli, and it links unbounded images together to create a new experience. Terrence McArdie and Ben Newhouse demonstrated this new medium on their iPads (of course). They showed several examples of how this could be used, including a Bubble in a news article, that allows you to seemingly step into an entirely new world and see the news content. They also showed how it could be integrated with stories to allow users to step into scenes and view the characters’ world from all angles. Next up for Bubbles: audio and geodata.

Salman Kahn, Educator   @kahnacademySalman Kahn
What started as a personal project to tutor his cousins on YouTube, has now become a place where any one can go and “learn almost anything – for free.” Kahn Academy has over 2,100 videos that have been viewed over 43,000,000 times. While this is impressive, it is Salman Kahn’s perspective on education this is really fascinating. He believes that the success of his videos is due to people being able to pause and repeat lectures and set their learning at their own pace. This attribute could improve classroom settings if teachers could assign lectures for homework and do what was homework, as classroom exercises with the teacher. Doing this would use technology to humanize the classroom and arm teachers with data. Not only could the videos be assigned as homework, but the teachers would be able to access data that would tell them which videos were watched, how long it took to complete the videos, and where in the videos did most students pause. Of course, there is a lot that goes in to implementing a large change like this, but it is worth thinking about how the future of the classroom experience will look.
TED Video


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UPDATE: Videos of Cady Coleman, David Brooks, and Eric Whitacre have been added from

Before I start: Do you know what TED is? TED is self-defined as:

… a small nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design.

I’ve been able to attend TED this year, with my colleagues at Newell Rubbermaid, via the TED Associates webcast. This year’s conference addresses The Rediscovery of Wonder.

Day One featured a physicist, explorer, media players, artists, designers, musicians, composers, doodle expert and one astronaut. As I’m sure you can imagine, it was an incredible day with many take-a-ways. Here’s my personal recap of the Best Of TED Day One.

Cady Coleman, Astronaut   @Astro_CadyCady Coleman
TED started with a habitat of the International Space Station addressing attendees and described her experience in space. Since childhood, I’ve had a fascination with space and have always wondered what it would be like to be in space. It blew my mind when she said: “8 1/2 minutes after leaving Earth, all the rules as you’ve ever known them are different.”
TED Video

David Brooks, ColumnistDavid Brooks
New York Times columnist, David Brooks, had a lot to say in a short amount of time. He moved quickly from one point to another, almost scrambling to get everything all into one presentation. What I was able to take away from his talk was his perspective on emotions. “Emotions are at the center of our thinking. They are the foundation of reason,” he said, “because they tell us what we value.” This is no big surprise, but it was good to rethink our emotional connections and how they drive us. Brooks also claimed, “the strength of our conclusions should be based on the strength of our evidence, but it rarely is.” Why is that? Why do we make “strong” conclusions based on weak evidence?
TED Video

Eric Whitacre, Composer/conductor   @ericwhitacreEric Whitacre
Wow. This was incredible. Eric Whitacre was inspired by a single video from a fan to create a virtual choir. Last year he held auditions on YouTube for his composition, Lux Aurumque. It was such a success that he received requests for a second video. This new virtual choir brought together over 2,000 individuals from 58 countries to perform Eric Whitacre’s composition, Sleep. The video itself is amazing. It shows the thousands of people, all over the world, coming together to perform as a choir. The really impressive part, though, is that one fan started an entire project that would have been impossible six years ago.
TED Video

Sunni Brown, Visualizer and gamestorming   @sunnibrownSunni Brown
I was especially excited to hear what Sunni Brown had to say. For a while, she worked with Sharpie (Newell Rubbermaid brand) as a Doodleologist. She not only teaches adults how to doodle, but that doodling is acceptable. How many times have we been scolded by a teacher or looked down upon by colleagues for doodling when we were supposed to be paying attention? The first roadblock toward the acceptance of doodling is the definition of doodle. Let’s look at some synonyms associated with the verb “to doodle” from Merriam-Webster: fiddle (around, fool around, goof (around), hang about [British], kick around, mess around, monkey (around), play, potter (around), putter (around), and trifle. My goodness, even the sample sentences are insulting to the art: “She doodled in her notebook instead of taking notes.” “I plan to spend the entire vacation just doodling.” Sunni Brown offers an alternative definition to be considered. This is a definition that challenges a culture so focused on verbal communication to think of doodling as a preemptive measure to keep from loosing focus.

To Doodle: To make spontaneous marks to help you think.

She makes the argument, based on research of retention, that doodling can actually improve your ability to learn. Sunni Brown listed four ways of learning: visual, auditory, reading/writing, and kinesthetic. Any one of these methods improve your ability to learn. Doodling incorporates all four of these methods plus emotion.

Paul Nicklen, Polar photographerPaul Nicklen
Hired by National Geographic, Paul Nicklen set out to document the Spirit Bear, which had never before received the attention this photographic spread would give. He had to sit and wait for two months for this Spirit Bear to appear. At any point he could have second guessed himself and left, but he stayed and waited for this opportunity. He reminded himself that National Geographic “can’t publish excuses.” It was clear that his perseverance paid off as he shared some of his work with the TED audience.

Carlo Ratti, Architect and engineerCarlo Ratti
We have talked about our world for years, but Carlo Ratti proposes that we are at a point where our world can start speaking back to us. He covered several examples, but one was especially interesting. He worked on a project in Seattle where people volunteered to tag their trash. 3,000 common items like paper, banana peels, batteries, and light bulbs were tagged and tracked by Carlo and his team to see where this trash ended up and how long it took for it to travel there. The results were astounding. Trash from Seattle spread all over the United States, reaching as far as Florida and New York and was still traveling up to two months after the initial disposal. While this is interesting, the benefit of this project shows in the hope that if people see that their trash doesn’t magically disappear, we can start to change behavior.

Aaron Koblin, Data artist   @aaronkoblinAaron Koblin
Before Aaron started to speak, I knew that this would be an interesting presentation. I love the concept of classifying yourself as a data artist. I’ve always in intrigued by infographics, which is essentially what Aaron creates, adding an interactive factor. He makes data beautiful. What a concept! He walked the TED audience through flight patterns across the US and SMS messages on New Year’s Eve in New York City. He then used Amazon’s, which finds a way to complete tasks that are easy for people and difficult for computers, to tap into people’s minds on other projects. Some of these projects include The Sheep Market, Ten Thousand Cents, and Bicycle Built For Two Thousand. If these weren’t interesting enough, he also worked on The Johnny Cash Project: a music video for Johnny Cash’s last recording, “Ain’t No Grave,” with each frame of the video drawn by individual fans. All of these projects have one similar thread: bringing individual work to be represented as a whole.

Mike Matas, Co-founder of Push Pop Press   @mike_matasMike Matas
Push Pop Press demonstrated the first truly interactive book (Al Gore’s “Our Choice”) for the TED audience, showing the ability to scroll though pages, play video and audio, map data, zoom in and out, display interactive infographics, and even respond to “wind” by blowing on the device. Push Pop Press is a tool that has been built to be licensed out to publishers to make more books like this demonstration. This is so much more impressive than the digital readers we currently have on the market, which are little more than digital copies of books as we have always interacted with them. Alternatively, the Push Pop Press demonstration showed how new technology can be applied to books to rethink how we interact with our reading material.

Have you been one of the lucky few to watch TED 2011 live? Do you have anything to add to this Best Of TED Day One post? Were there other speakers that you specifically appreciated? Have you seen any TED videos from previous years? Do you have any questions about or additions to this post?

Note: Images taken from and

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