I have several favourite TED Talks from over the years, such as Elizabeth Gilbert, Barry Schwartz, Alain De Botton, Shashi Thooror, Chimamanda Adichie, Phil Zimbardo, Jonathan Haidt, Sir Ken Robinson, Helen Fisher and more...and even the worst TED talks seem to be more thought provoking than the best of most conferences I go to. But there was something about this year that just popped for me. It wasn't necessarily a single talk - though there were many that made me stand on my feet crying in joy - it was more the thread. It all started when Chris Anderson said, "I'm angry" and though he said it in his very polite, British way, I could tell he was seething and this was going to be a good year. So though TED 2010 was, as one speaker said, "worth the sum of the whole rather than any individual part" (I believe it was the presenter from Pivotal?), these are my top 10 moments that tied the parts together for me:
1. Sir Ken Robinson
SKR spoke of how we kill passion and that we need to start over again with education (rather than reform, transform). I can't wait until this video comes out. He gets funnier and funnier and better and better.
2. Philip Howard
Howard spoke of a world without lawyers...or rather...a world in which we don't rely on lawyers to solve our issues anymore. Connected me seriously to the talk by Schwartz last year on the loss of wisdom.
3. Jane McGonigal
I'm both a friend and fan of Jane's work and her talk was more awesome than ever. I love her quest to bring more play into the day to day and her research on bringing what creates that sense of euphoric flow to the gaming world into the real world is fantastic.
4. Glenna Fraumeni
Glenna provided the biggest audience tears of the entire conference, but not gratuitously or saintly. She talked about being 25 and having a short time to live and that she was just going to keep on doing what she loves to do: learning. No jumping off of bridges or visiting the Taj Mahal for her. Inspirational and reminds us to savour the everyday.
5. Jamie Oliver
This talk is up! See for yourself why obesity is worse threat to America than terrorism. Really: http://video.ted.com/assets/player/swf/EmbedPlayer.swf
6. Dan Barber
When I saw Barber's talk on happy geese and Foie Gras, he changed the way I look at food altogether (and I stopped loving Foie Gras - it was an expensive habit anyway). This talk about fish he loves was hilarious and mind-opening. And really made me believe we could feed the world on a large scale without damaging the environment, overprocessing and treating animals with kindness.
7. William Li
Before I saw Li's talk, I didn't think I would care about something called Angiogenesis, but afterwards I recognize this is an enormous breakthrough in cancer research. Truth is, we all have cancers in our bodies as we age, but they don't do anything until they are fed our blood, then they grow quickly and kill us. Li explained this and how to stop it from happening beautifully.
8. Daniel Kahneman
When I watched this talk, I was only partially interested, but I've found myself explaining it more than all of the others. Kahneman talked about our split selves: our experiencing self and our remembering self. This is pretty revolutionary and also good fodder for jokes (Ze Frank's was great...and I made one while setting up to speak the other night).
9. Esther Duflo
I think Chris Anderson called Duflo a small French woman...well, she didn't come across as small at all. The way she questioned assumptions about foreign aid and brought forth her ideas on A/B testing solutions was brilliant. Now we need to listen to her.
10. Temple Grandin
The moment Grandin stepped onto the stage, I fell in love with her. She knows who she is and obviously thinks on a higher plane than the rest of us. The beauty of her talk is that she was able to bring it to a level where even those of us who think conventionally can understand...through identifying with animals. When she said that dogs can get a lot of data off a fire hydrant: "Who has been there" "When" "How many" "What they ate" etc, I had an a-ha moment I'll never forget!
BONUS: Jake Shimabukuro
Jake isn't a speaker, he's a ukulele player...but I think the world needs more ukulele and Jake Shimabukuro. Here is a video from another source:
Most of these talks aren't online yet, but I'll be sure to post them on my blog (and update this post) as they come available.