TED Talks are awesome. The “About our organization” section on the TED website neatly sums up why we like them so much. Here’s an extract:

TED is “… a nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks (18 minutes or less). TED began in 1984 as a conference where Technology, Entertainment and Design converged, and today covers almost all topics — from science to business to global issues — in more than 100 languages. Meanwhile, independently run TEDx events help share ideas in communities around the world.”

On Tuesday 16 February 2016, avid TEDster Carel Nolte and the legends at Purple Group hosted a private viewing of the “Radical Repatterning”, part of the TED Talks live from Vancouver. Team CN&CO joined team Purple and a few other guests in watching six TED talks – each inspiring in their own way.

  • Adam Savage (of Mythbusters fame) focused on the human emotions in cosplay and how we are all fully immersed in the costumes that we portray in everyday life – even if we aren’t aware of it
  • Cédric Villani (a truly charismatic mathematician from France) spoke about his passion for mathematics; how sexy the subject is (especially in America); and just how much organised chaos there is in mathematics. It was interesting to learn that France has the highest number of mathematicians per capita.
  • So Percussion (a percussion ensemble – no surprise there) performed a rather interesting piece of avant-garde percussion using pencils and some instruments I’ve never seen before.
  • Joe Gebbia (designer and cofounder of Airbnb) shared his story about Airbnb, based on the air mattress that he first let a totally random person sleep in his lounge. A key point Joe made was how the human connection beyond the transaction (of booking with Airbnb) is something that motivates the company to continuously improve. The main element we took home from Joe’s talk? “How design can overcome human bias; Airbnb design overcame the ‘stranger danger’ bias that is instilled in most people at a young age. What else can design overcome?”
  • Travis Kalanick (problem solver-in-chief and cofounder of Uber) shared some facts about how Uber has changed transport in the world, particularly the latest concept of UberPOOL. He also touched on why regulation is a bane to their business. Ironically, the city he was speaking in, Vancouver does not have Uber in it due to regulation.
Both Travis and Joe made the point of what the future *could* look like if cities were designed around the “sharing” model.
  •  Haley van Dyck (part of the US Digital Service) was the final speaker in the mix. She who focused on how  important it is to reform government services for the good of the people, “by the people”.

And while we may not have been sitting next to Harrison Ford (as Carel was, at TED, in Vancouver) we sure did have a very good evening spent in great company! And all the live-streaming tech worked, which is always a phenomenal surprise.

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Travis Kalanick from Uber talking about regulation


Mathematician Cedric Villani










Although there are many talks that will inevitably captivate prospective listeners, one of the first talks from the conference has been posted online already. Shonda Rhimes talk entitled My year of saying yes to everything is a prime example of why the TED Talks are so inspirational.