Archive for March 2011

TEDActive – Mobility Project Conclusion

March 9, 2011

Had a great week with the Mobility project team – both the work and getting to know a great crowd of interesting people.  Final blog post for the week is up on the team blog, so linking it here.

Remember, it’s about the journey, not the destination 😉


TEDActive 2011 – Digest

March 6, 2011

TEDActive 2011 is over.  Back to reality Monday.  It will surely be a while before I fully assemble meaning, but thought it might be helpful for my own recollection to assemble my personal highlights in a digest.  So here goes….

TED Talks from 2011…

Shared seeds of wisdom

  • Where the unconscious mind, and human nature meet public policy (David Brooks)
  • Leadership in a virtual world (Stanley McChrystal)
  • Social danger ahead if we all live in our own personal bubble (Eli Pariser)

Inspired my heart

  • Creating a global virtual choir (Eric Whitacre)
  • Speaking poetry (Sarah Kay)
  • Revealing simple art as change (JR)
  • Reinventing education through YouTube (Salman Kahn)

Intrigued me with creepy technical wonders…

  • Making anything taste good (Homaru Cantu)
  • Reversing evolution (Jack Horner)

Pulled back the curtain further on life’s simple wonders

  • Variation on building blocks of life (Felisa Wolfe-Simon)
  • Beauty of the luminescent deep sea (Edith Widder)

Amazed me with profound technological achievements

  • Every moment of life captured and analyzed (Deb Roy)
  • Synthetic silk as a “do anything” material (Fiorenzo Omenetto)

And redefined the limits of what’s possible with true human miracles

  • Enabling the lame to walk again (Dennis Hong), and
  • The blind to see (Dennis Hong)
  • Mind control (Ed Boyden)
  • Printing new body parts (Anthony Atala)

The TEDActive Projects, put forth seeds to…

  • Reinvent education by shifting power to students
  • Create swift impact through smart use of social networks
  • More efficiently use resources (incl mobility) by rebuilding social capital first

And I feel privileged to get to know many intriguing new people, including…

  • Someone who has decided to go to the moon to inspire his children and his homeland
  • Someone who aims to eradicate ubiquitous diseases no one else cares about (yet)
  • Someone who is reinventing exchange currency

…and many fabulous new friends.

Thanks, TED, for another inspiring year and a real world reminder that “there’s an app for that.”  I’m exhausted, but energized.  Not sure what I’m going to do with it all yet, but you’ve sure reset the bar higher for me.  Something tells me we’ll be doing more together between events until we gather again in 2012.

TEDActive 2011 – TED 2010 Aftershock – Social Networks

March 5, 2011

Last year, one of the most meaningful speakers to me was Nicholas Christakis on the “hidden influence of social networks”….

Nicholas Christakis – TED 2010

The big idea (supported by rigorous data analysis) was that people within 3 degrees removed from me have a surprisingly powerful but hidden influence over me.

So one of the first things I do when I get home is add 10 people I want to make sure I stay connected to to my LinkedIn network, and I’m blown away that each and every one is precisely 3 degrees removed from my current networks.

This means that all the people I added were already influencing me without me knowing it, but they’ve now popped from the edge of my universe to the center.  Even intriguing to see the pathway to each revealed by LinkedIn.

Thanks TED! Guess this means we can now all reach out another 3 degrees 🙂

Day 4 – Heading Home

March 4, 2011

Well, having once again over-stimulated so many neurons, I crashed hard on the first leg out of Palm Springs. Hope to let all the new ideas roll around in there for a while, but absolutely confident that this inspiring week around ‘my kind of people’ is going to leave a real mark. For now, I’ll look forward to seeing my wife and sons when I get home.

Day 3 – The Juan Enriquez Magic Show

March 4, 2011

I can’t recall how long ago it was (7-8 yrs?) that I read Juan Enriquez’s brief but provocative book “As the Future Catches You” about how biotechnology was going to change everything.  I do recall it served it’s purpose in making me think, but I was quite ready for today when the future actually caught me.

TED asked Juan to be the “curator” for this afternoon’s session.  As in a museum, the curator goes out and finds, and then on stage introduces the material to the audience.  Juan is a quiet, unassuming guy, but if anything, he undersold the material both then and now.  All the talks were good, but three really stand out big time….

Fiorenzo Omenetto – Having reverse engineered the cocoon, he’s now making synthetic silk.  Of course it has the properties and applications I expected, but so many more, too: Solid optical fiber for communications, sensors – including bio-implantable electronics, and biodegradable drinking cups.  Seems like endless possibilities for this very interesting material.

Ed Boyden – This guy guy blew my mind so far away I still haven’t retrieved that part to digest what he said! Ed leads the “Synthetic Neurobiology Group” at the MIT Media Lab.  Ed has essentially linked directly binary computer technology, neurology and behavioral psychology to train mouse brains to respond to internal light impulses (i.e. a laser implant).  But implications seem profound – e.g. basis for complete integration of computing technology and your brain (can you say “human memory upgrades” or “SAT AP Math module, please”).  I just don’t know what to say – both exciting and scary.  To keep an eye on it, click on their group website here.

Anthony Atala – Regenerative medicine isn’t a dream, it’s a reality.  Not just growing bone on scaffolding (which I knew of), but now making kidney’s on 3D printers from a patient’s own cells (running live on stage while we watched).  Brought out a young man who 10 yrs ago had a synthetically grown bladder put in at age 10 – now a sophomore in college.  Showed us video of functioning heart valve.  Organ replacement is now clearly a matter of scale up.

This is the session that should have been labeled mindblowing.  This stuff is much more mature than I realized.  They’re going to have to think up some new science fiction – ’cause the old stuff is already here.  Juan, consider me “caught!”

Day 3 – Eli Pariser – Filter Bubble

March 3, 2011

I had no idea! Search and profiling has become so ubiquitous and ‘good’ that we each now live in separate ‘Filter Bubbles.’. Depending on your click history and where you are, you might have no idea something important happened today. What we each see is totally different – no wonder society is increasingly polarized! Watch for Eli’s book out in May.

Day 3 – Dennis Hong – Driving Blind ;-)

March 3, 2011

Dennis Hong’s talk about a car for the blind, is going to be one of the must see talks of TED 2011.