The TEDBlog has moved to tedblog.typepad.com

Dear Readers,

You will find the new TEDBlog here: tedblog.typepad.com. Our new blog is updated daily with fresh news from the TED community and beyond. Be sure to bookmark the new location. This blog will remain as an archive from the TED2005 conference.

Tom Rielly


TED PhotoBlogging

Here's an awesome slideshow of all the TED photos on Flickr, which are tagged ted2005.

Punks, Physicists

Video Shot and Edited by:
Ryanne Hodson


TED: "Heaven" Party

Video Shot and Edited by:
Ryanne Hodson

Party every night in Monterey, CA!

TED: Vlog Hangout!

Video Shot and Edited by:
Ryanne Hodson

TED Day 2 Afternoon Session Grade Out

SESSION 5: RISK TAKING overall grade: ****

Elon Musk: **
I have a lot of respect for Elon. When you go through a transaction of the scale he did on the sale of Paypal, there are few advisors around you who are truly equipped to think in the scale of what that kind of money can accomplish. There is a pressure to settle into a defensive management mode. For him to decide to do something audacious and truly worthy of the scale of his windfall is admirable. That being said, I was a little disappointed in the actual presentation. The question asked at the end was telling “What did you do better than what NASA and its suppliers are doing?” Afterall, if we’re 25 years or more since the last fresh design work in aerospace; we’re dealing with new materials for construction, possibly propulsion. If he’s working on a 100% re-usable rocket, then there’s got to be an interesting design/materials story there alone. Perhaps too much of his work has to be protected as trade secrets, but if so, he didn’t say so. What I wanted to see was what happens when a true entrepreneur enters the dusty staid world of the current aerospace industry and challenges their assumptions.

Anna Deavere Smith: *****
Anna gave us one of those profoundly human moments at TED where we realize how inspiring, tragic, and touching stories are bound up in the lives of every last one of us on the earth – the shopkeeper, the cowboy, the convict. The depth to which she assumed the characters she re-created was wonderful. When she portrays people of other races, genders, and dialects, it just drives home how connected we are. That a series of monologues built from the answers to deep questions of ordinary people could be so engaging and powerful is one of those surprising ideas that I’ve come to count on TED to provide.

Ze Frank: ****
Ze came out of the gates strong, scoring with one gag after another to where his haikus on neutered dogs was actually cramping my abs from laughing so hard (not that they’re used to working hard normally). He is so creative, its just impossible to tell where he’s going next. Ze also has a project downstairs that must be seen – he and a colleague have developed a robot “scribbler” that is drawing portraits of TEDsters using one continuous scribbled line. The portraits take about 15 minutes to draw and are fascinating to watch.

Ben Saunders: ***
TED is full of people with pretty unique claims. Another thing I look for from TED is to show me people with experiences and accomplishments that I’m unlikely to encounter anywhere and anytime else in my life. Ben is one of four people who have EVER made a solo trip to the North pole. His pictures and story were very interesting. When I reflect on it, the two most memorable parts were his description of being utterly alone when the helicopter left him, and him try in vain to phone someone when he’d met his goal of reaching the pole. I wish I got more insights into what it felt like to be him during this adventure and what makes someone like this tick.

Ted Day 2 Morning Session Grade Out


Session 3) ELEMENTS overall grade: ****

Shacht/Kaplan *****
One of the things I look for from TED is the opportunity to see and think about new technologies and inventions. This team was made for TED. Their combination of new technologies with design ideas and entertainment possibilities were a great fit and a great start to the day. The freebie of Squishy magnets for a handout was a great idea as well. I would love to see them be a regular feature at TED, and I think many would look forward to their session. A workshop with one of their kits on a Pre-Ted Wednesday session to design a product and present in a 5-minute slot later in the conference would probably go over well too. My third wish would be for Chris to annually include one of their kits in his book mailings like he did this year.

Greg Lynn ****
When I first learned of TED, I was sold on the T and E, but was skeptical about the D. Designers lived in a different world and I wasn’t sure how much they had to offer me. After my first TED, it was clear how the designers can lend a sense of gravitas and form to the talks and give the whole a better sense of balance and depth. Greg’s talk was this kind of ingredient. His discussion of classical ratios being driven by the lack of decimal math was enlightening and unexpected. I liked how he quickly transitioned to a discussion of how calculus opens up design to a world of curves and organic forms. His samples were visually interesting and illustrated his points well. I just wish his tea and coffee sets were in use at the breaks. I would have loved to see them in person.

Brian Farrell ***
There have been several talks where I felt I was hearing two 10-minute talks jammed together. Dr. Farrell’s was one of them. His discussion of how the mystery of the ants was solved was interesting, but seemed more like his colleague’s story. I think he could have spent the whole time on his database. Chris’ introduction about how beauty isn’t just in man’s scale, but can be found “all the way down” was a wonderful statement; but in the actual talk, the beauty took a back seat to some more prosaic aspects of Dr. Farrell’s work. I would have loved to have heard someone with his expertise tell us about unique and exquisite insects that were native to Hispaniola. Not only would it have underscored Chris’ point about scaleable beauty, but it would have tied nicely with Craig Venter’s discussion of biodiversity.

Terry Moore ****
Again, the 5-minute TED talk comes through. His useful and whimsical presentation on how to tie shoes correctly was an easy way to return home from Monterey a better and wiser person.

Craig Venter ****
Another thing a look for from TED is the chance to learn about something from someone who’s ridiculously over-qualified to do so. The idea that the person that history will likely identify as one of the key players in driving our understanding of DNA would be explaining what he’s learning to us is what gets me looking forward to TED months in advance. Craig’s observation that for every 200 Miles he’s traveled across our oceans he’s found almost a completely new set of species changes the way we look at oceans. Instead of being just a big soup of life forms, there appears to be many distinct neighborhoods of life. I’m hopeful he will return next year to share more of his findings with us.

SESSION 4: ASTONISHMENTS overall grade: ****

Kevin Kelly *****
There’ve been several speakers I’ve been tempted to give 5 stars to; but I’ve been holding back because there are certain talks you hear that you know you will still be thinking about and talking about months from now. Kevin’s talk was one of those BIG TED TALKS. Kevin asked the big question “What does technology want?” His comparison of technology to the families of life and what they trend toward was a big and meaty connection to make. Whether or not Technology deserves to be placed as a peer with Man and other life forms as a fellow traveler on our journey through time, it is a thought that I know will stick with me for some time to come.

Irene Pepperberg ***
Sometimes a talk doesn’t go as you planned. For a parrot to be astonishing after a long trip in front of a strange audience was maybe a little too much to expect, but a risk worth taking. Irene did a super job -- laryngitis and all -- of explaining why what Alex has learned is so impressive. Again, life teaches us not to underestimate it.

Arthur Benjamin *****
Another way to make a TED moment is to blow our minds by doing something that seems impossible. Arthur did that in his first few minutes, and then continued to go over the top again and again. If he does write an explanation of how he does it, I hope it makes the book club.

Lennart Green ***
Lennart had an original and entertaining act. Even when you knew what he was doing, you still couldn’t make your eyes see it.


TED Day 1 Grade Out

First, let me start by saying I don’t think I could do what Chris Anderson and the rest of his TED team does. I deeply appreciate passion he pours into the conference and his belief that TED is something important is infectious. This is my Fifth TED, though, and I’m beginning to get a sense for what talks are “TED Quality”. With that in mind, here’s a summary of what I’ve seen at TED2005:

Day 1: Wednesday

Session 1: FOREPLAY Overall Grade: ****

James Watson ****
Talk about starting a conference off with a bang! Having a chance to meet one of the most famous scientists and the second-most-famous Dr. Watson in history was exciting, and the man did a great job of being genuine and engaging. Telling his story as that of two young bucks chasing after the golden prize has given me a personal image to associate with his discovery which I will carry for the rest of my life. When he got to more recent pursuits I found it a little difficult to follow his graphs; but clearly he’s trying to using his original discovery to make the world a better place, even at a stage where he could be coasting. Thank you, Dr. Watson for joining us and showing us how its done.

Janine Benyus ***
Janine’s talk went from her general principles on Bio-mimicry and quickly zoomed to the details of how it was being applied in diverse areas like waste water treatment and construction. This was a good example of what I come to TED for: the chance to hear a world-class expert speak on something they are passionate about in a way I can understand and relate to. She could have gotten a fourth star by choosing less than 12 items to cover when she had 10 minutes left in her talk. They are probably 12 items she uses all the time (they’re in the program), but less would have been more here.

Brian Greene ****
After hearing Brian this morning, I understand the envy in the voices last year’s TED-Edge Astrophysicists when they referred to him. He clearly has the best computer graphics of any physicist I’ve ever seen. His clear explanation of some of the most complex ideas in human history in 20 minutes was another great TED Quality talk. Towards the end, he seemed to wrestle with the anthropic principle and how certain universal constants are set to almost the only values that would allow an organized universe. However, if his explanation of how the shapes of additional dimensions determined those constants was meant to give relief the from the eerie feeling that the universe wasn’t an accident, it only seems to move the question from “why all those numbers set to those values?” to “why all those dimensions set to those exact shapes?”

Frans Lanting ****
Frans is one of the most gifted photographers of our age. He presented what was probably his magnum opus to us yesterday. It felt an honor to be in the auditorium. At first, I was a little thrown by his narration, which was mostly in a matter of fact voice; but on reflection, it seems to mirror the distance a camera puts between photographer an subject. While he was painting the history of the world on the screen, he was also painting the mind of the photographer with his voice. A good choice, I think.

Bonus Talk – The “Secrets to Success” guy ****
So far, the 5 minute bonus talks have been a surprisingly good idea. The first speaker shared some work he’d been doing for TED for years, trying to capture the essence of TED attendees and speakers. He showed clearly how much he valued his 5 minute opportunity with the preparation and thought he put into his talk.

Session 2: Intimacy Overall Grade *

James Surowieki **
I loved James book when TED sent it this summer (by the way, Chris, the TED Books has been a great upgrade). That may be partly the reason why his talk was disappointing. I really wanted to hear him talk about where he’s taken this idea of “the wisdom of groups” since publishing the book or, for that matter, anything else he was working on that was as interesting as that topic. Instead, he killed half his time by reading and showing other people’s content when I would have happily accepted that Blogs allowed people on the scene to give us a better picture of it without actually hearing what they wrote. Towards the end of his talk, he started to explain how the “echo chamber” nature of political blogging and how that could stifle the “wisdom of groups” effect. I wish he’d led with this question and then given us his best thoughts on any solutions and his predictions of where we will wind up. Alternately, I would have loved to hear him talk about whether, based on his book, we could conclude that every US President elected was the wisest choice that could have been made. THAT would have started some conversations!

Olivia Judson **
Something I look for from TED speakers is to tell me something about the world that I didn’t know and that is interesting. Olivia certainly had the content for this, but somehow seemed to fall short of the mark anyway. Perhaps it was the gratuitous falling back on sexual terms (I could swear somewhere behind me in the room I heard Beevis saying to Butthead “huh huh… she said ejaculate huh huh”). Previous TED speakers who talked about animal behaviors set the bar a little higher, where their enthusiasm for a little known fish, primate, or shrimp was infectious and memorable for years. Although she covered little-known facts about several animals, I don’t think the put enough of herself into her descriptions for me to still remember them after the conference.

John Clark (zero stars)
This was an embarrassment and a momentum killer. I didn’t know that the word Pornography didn’t arrive until the 18th century, but if the point was that pornography wasn’t bad before then, I doubt many people before the word was invented had a chance to see the “money shot” of man on boy action zoomed in and blown up on a 15x15 foot screen. The words “Nuclear fallout”, “Crack Baby”, and “Leisure Suit” weren't invented until recently either, but I just don’t see what that has to do with their moral value. Clearly there are thought-provoking questions about how a culture percieves the naked form. Anyone who's seen Greek-era sculpture has to marvel at their study of muscle and sinews. This talk, though, mostly appealed to the prurient interests of graphic depictions of sex. If there was a nobler purpose to the talk, it was lost on me.

Carmen Agradeedy **
I think there are two ways Carmen could have gone with her talk that would have gone over better. One was to talk about story-telling with personal anticdotes on how it brings people together, the effect it has on children, what makes a really good story, anything. The second was to tell a really good story. Her story-telling skills were highly refined, but the amount of work she had to do to keep the audience engaged shows that the story could have been stronger. This was a talk that I think could have redeemed the whole sub-par session with true poignancy and transparency and a story that we would carry the rest of our lives. Instead we got some character sketches and some cheap poignancy at the end with the reference to a dead parent. I appreciate how difficult it must be for her to size up what kind of audience she was speaking to. I think what we wanted was for her to tell us something that was authentically true.

Thomas Dolby **
I got very interested at the beginning of Dolby’s talk where he talked about representing information as music. People are natural pattern recognizers, and the notion of listening to data for patterns is fresh and intriguing. So far, though, he’s way under-achieved on this promise. By graphically rendering his raindrops and his weather data in such visually compelling ways, the audio data seemed to add little information. For that matter, I doubt anyone would need novel ways of rendering California rainfall data to deduce there was a rainy season and a dry season anyway. Render data that doesn’t say anything to the naked eye: Dow Jones performance, sports scores, cancer rates; let us hear these things and see if we can detect some knew knowledge with our ears. Thomas may yet do this in subsequent sessions. I hope so.


Be sure to check out the complete set of Haikus for a Newly Neutered Dog on Ze Frank's site.
Left is nothing but
your guilt, my shame. if
I had thumbs, I would cut you.

TED Aquarium Welcome Party

TED Aquarium Welcome Party
shot and edited by:
Jay Dedman

click to watch!

Remembrance of African Grays past

Irene Pepperberg's talk brought back memories of when I lived with an African Gray. Mahorn wasn't as demonstrably clever as Irene's parrots. However, she was well-stimulated and loved practical jokes. Her favorite was to call out "I've got it" when the phone rang ... in perfect mimicry of one of my housemates.

We missed a lot of calls that way.

Animate Forms

I caugh architect Greg Lynn's presentation this morning. It was a little early for calculus but damn those were some really cool structures. I want to live in a giant flower.


Come Learn to Videoblog

Click to watch

TED: Talk with Dick C. Co-Founder Feedburner

Video Shot and Edited by:
Ryanne Hodson

James Surowiecki

Originally uploaded by elcaseo.

Per Biz's post, here's a photo of Surowiecki giving his talk.