Yet more TED talks… perfect background listening for work!

Today for you I have another linky post of TED talks. I promise that I also have the intention of posting more thinky content, but that requires more of my brain than I’ve had available of late. I’m working hard and often my background listening is TED talks, hence I seem to always have a plethora of those to share with you.

I have an incredible mountain of links just waiting to go into linksalads (yes, plural), but I think I will declare an amnesty on a truck load that have been stored in Facebook and nowhere else simply because we’re going on 8 months or so since I trawled through it and… well you can imagine how many links that would be. Maybe I will, but it’s likely I won’t. It really depends on the scrollback interface on whatever Facebook layout is engaged at the time. We shall see.

But for now, inspiring and thinky TED talks!

Geoffrey West: The surprising math of cities and corporations:

This was really interesting, according to West, the problems caused by the increase in ubranisation can also be solved through that same mechanism of cities and corporations through scalability and networks. I found it particularly interesting that if you double the size of a city, you increase all the good things and bad things, by about 15% (apparently up to and including walking speed o_O). Fascinating stuff.

Thandie Newton: Embracing otherness, embracing myself:

“I was an ‘other’ before anything else, even a girl.” This talk cuts to the heart of the interplay between self and individuality, and the abstract concept of connection and that sense of oneness. Newton speaks beautifully and with poignant insight, stating that “Race is an illegitimate concept, which our selves have created based on fear and ignorance.” It is a statement that I am in agreement with and think that the concept can be extrapolated to many other spaces where oppression and inequality lurk.

Mark Pagel: How language transformed humanity:

This talk was about language, how it is a tool for social cooperation. It allows us to take an idea that we have, and transfer it directly into the mind of someone else (through the filters of perception of course). I was interested in the way he referred to this as solving a crisis of ‘visual theft’ with groups of people. You could also call this copying or learning. Interesting to think for a moment and consider how the addition of language makes clear the intent and the purpose of actions. Language uniquely enables prosperity through the transfer of ideas.

Julian Treasure: 5 ways to listen better

If we take ‘listening’ to mean ‘making meaning from sound’ then it is also reasonable to consider what filters we utilise through listening. Filters such as our culture, our language background, values, beliefs, attitudes, intentions and more. Listening is distinct from sound in that we often become desensitised to sound in general. Treasure mentions some concern with how the art of conversation has been replaced by personal broadcast, that it doesn’t facilitate conscious listening which is required for understanding. I like the idea that spending 3 minutes per day in silence that we can maintain a high degree of sensitivity to sound, something I’d like to try. I am aware through other talks also of the concept mentioned about the ‘hidden choir’ in the chorus of sound and the different ways it comes together, for example birds and trickling water and road noise. By far the most important point for me is that listening promotes connection, and that depending on your listening position, the opportunity for connection is increased or decreased accordingly. A favourite (judging by my notes) from this set of talks.

Josette Sheeran: Ending hunger now:

This was fascinating and moving. Hunger and starvation horrify me and it made me so overwhelmingly happy to hear the ways in which the World Food Program is working to combat hunger. I agree with the speaker in that it seems inexplicable that we can have all this technology, all this advanced society (so to speak) and yet… we’re still dealing with this basic lack of food for a significant portion of the global populace.

It was interesting to find out that stunting as a result of malnourishment from conception through to two years of age is apparently irreversible and thus limits the capacity of those individuals to participate in society fully and advance their position. School feeding is apparently a significant way in which significant wins against hunger have been achieved. Not only is there food for consumption, but it promotes education and keeps kids in school longer. Sheeran states that if you use local agriculture and produce from local farms for school feeding programs, that the effect is “transformative”. An example of this is Brazil, whose school feeding program comprises 0.5% of the GDP per annum. I also agree that in order to solve hunger globally that it needs to be a global commitment with a collective approach.

Jeremy Gilley: One day of peace:

In 1999, Gilley was part of an effort to create a global day of ceasefire and non-violence. A global day of peace. This is one of the most interesting examples of how a commitment to idealism inspires individual action in people worldwide toward a common commitment to peace.

Alex Steffen: The shareable future of cities:

There is in today’s world an opportunity to consider how we tackle climate change. Steffen urges a call to rethink how our cities can help rather than hinder. Our energy use is predestined by the types of cities and communities that we live in. I love this particular quote where Steffen states:

“Right now, our economy by and large operates as Paul Hawken  said, ‘by stealing the future, selling it in the present and calling it GDP’ And if we have another 8 billion … people living on a planet where their cities also steal the future, we’re going to run out of future really fast”

Ultimately, the point is that it is not about the leaves above, but the systems below as a part of our ordinary and everyday that provide us with the most useful ways in which to engage with climate change and future humanity considerations.

Eve Ensler: Suddenly my body:  (TW: sexualised violence and rape culture references)

Author of ‘The Vagina Monologues’ Eve leads us in a deeply personal, confronting account of how she came to understand her disconnection and eventual connection with her body. This is is quite intense in the language and it might be triggery for anyone sensitive to sexualised violence, so keep that in mind and look after yourself if you wish to watch this talk. I am a fan of Ensler’s poetic metaphor, the charismatic and intense way in which she speaks, commanding respect and challenging us to think and to listen regarding what goes on in the world around us.

Joan Halifax: Compassion and the true meaning of empathy:

This is probably my favourite talk of this set of links. In this talk, the speaker asserts that love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries and that they are vital to life. Halifax has a unique perspective on death through her work with the dying and condemned and how one aspect of wonderousness is that people all around us can be dying and we do not quite take on that can happen to us – it is disassociated. I thought her statement about “the strength that arises when natural compassion is really present” in those who tend to the dying as being very poignant.

This talk moved me on many levels and this quote is another example of how deeply this resonated with me: “compassion is comprised of the capacity to see clearly into the nature of suffering. it is that ability to stand strnog and to recognise also that I’m not separate from this suffering”. I am not separate from the suffering around me. This resonates strongly with me and it’s something that I am thinking on increasingly.

Halifax speaks with conviction that we “aspire to transform suffering” and that although seeds of compassion must be activated, that they are present in all human beings. I agreed with her that it is fear, pity and moral outrage that are enemies of compassion and that our present experience of the everyday is overladen by terror and fear and such a very narrow band of moral rightness. This global condition is insidious and it pervades our ability to perceive and act with compassion and love. The answer is to consciously take on compassion, to actualise compassion and nurture the quality of resilience that it brings to our lives. Far from draining us, compassion supports us and provides us with an inner well of strength with which to deal with our experiences.

So much food for thought in this talk, one I think would be worthwhile to listen to more than once, perhaps periodically. Much like the Brene Brown talk on vulnerability (I’ve linked to that before).

Sasha Dichter: The generosity experiment:

This talk was interesting and I appreciate a lot of the context where he engages with the ‘no’ reflex and how that closes off opportunities for generosity. Generosity is about ‘yes’, and that what that means is that there is potential and possibility involved in listening to someone and taking a risk on an opportunity to address issues and global problems that are generally considered ‘impossible’ or inevitable. Well worth listening too and considering how you yourself engage with generosity. Are you always responding ‘no’ to requests for help? Is the ‘no’ a reflex or a considered response? All good questions that I’m letting tick over in the back of my brain.


A slightly shorter links post than I usually give you, but I must admit I’m rather pleased by that 🙂  Enjoy! Let me know what your thoughts are about these talks, I’m interested in how other people hear these ideas from visionary people that I’m exploring and find inspiring.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *