Truth and Dare – Confronting Truths at TED

I have just returned from a week at TEDActive, the event held in parallel with the annual TED Conference. It features a live simulcast of the conference in beautiful Whistler, and tends to attract the doers of TED’s community — people from around the world who create ripple effects from the ideas shared at TED.

The theme for this year’s TED conference was Truth and Dare, and we certainly heard many uncomfortable truths and were dared to address many difficult issues. For me, three talks in particular made me think hard, reassess previously held beliefs and motivated me to do something. Read more

When a hashtag offers a collective hug

Cynics are quick to criticize social media campaigns in support of charities or social issues, saying that a hashtag makes it easy for people to indulge in armchair activism, rather than taking the extra step to make a difference in the real world. It may well be that #bringbackourgirls brought no serious pressure to bear on the government of Goodluck Jonathan in finding the more than 200 schoolgirls taken by Boko Haram. After Elliot Rodger’s murderous rampage through the streets of Santa Barbara in May 2014, thousands of women posted their personal stories of misogyny and sexual violence with the hashtag #yesallwomen, yet it is unlikely that many of the targeted culprits changed their behavior as a result. Read more

What I Learned at TED 2014

Last week at TED2014, we had the opportunity to participate in almost one hundred talks, from the 18-minute main stage talks to four-minute shorter versions, on topics ranging from suicide, transgender acceptance, girls’ education and autism to bionics, space exploration, satellites, microbes, bio-mimicry and the right to privacy. While the five days covered more topics than a good college education, what stood out was the importance of Brutal Simplicity of Thought. Given the sheer volume, it is almost impossible to recall the content of each and every one of these talks. The ones that stand out are the talks that make a single, powerful point, often without visual aids. These talks resonate because they typically tap into a universal truth, perception or belief, and either challenge or build on it to produce something simple yet memorable.
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