TED2013: The official download.

The TED2013 conference did not disappoint. My third TED conference, I watched it from the beautiful desert setting of Palm Springs and with the other attendees to TEDActive.

So. Which were my favorite talks? Let’s say I could not choose JUST ONE if you forced me.  But I have categorized the ones I feel are worth sharing (once they eventually make it to ted.com).  Before I get to those, I’ve come up with the top five types of talks (not based on subject matter) we saw.  After all, my inner geek watched nearly every talk with an eye to deconstructing their structure but fortunately, only a few speakers were weak in their delivery. (Speaking of Speaker delivery, I was proud to have been interviewed during TED for this special TEDx post on how to prep your speakers, thanks TEDx!)

Here’s my top 5 list of types of talks for TED2013:

1.  I’m going to change the world, dammit.  This includes reforming our entire political system, designing a worldwide system for grassland grazing, redefining how non-profits are treated, re-designing an energy system, and making sure you never ever get hacked again.

2.  Speak from my heart and rip out your heart (many with no or few slides).  These were the personal, heart-wrenching, tear-jerking stories. Like escaping from North Korea, how I embraced my shake, facing the voices inside your head and sharing my passion for getting everyone to be kind in the world.

3.  Let me reveal to you my inner geek. I’m going to make you love and laugh with me about the world’s largest prime number, why ducks need to be saved from window murders, and how I will re-design a way to use solar and nuclear energy together (not exactly but close).

4.  Let me tap dance for you.  The demonstrations of Baxter the robot, new technologies to help autistic kids communicate, how my open sourced architectural drawings work, and then a whole host of unbelievable performances from a yo-yo artist to a gorgeous symphony from East Congo.

5.  Are you shitting me? talks.  Including how an undercover journalist is tackling massive corruption in Ghana, grazing by herds of animals may be the only solution to re-claiming the natural grasslands and ultimately impacting climate change, how the world’s sanitary system is wildly outdated (okay I included that one in this category for the intended pun), and who knew we made so many consequential decisions in our twenties?!

These might be the general categories of talks every year — so if they are — then TED has done a great job of keeping us wildly engaged and thinking wildly.

Now, for the talks themselves. By the time I post this – or by the time you are reading it – who knows how many talks will be live.  As of now (leaving Palm Springs on Friday at 2pm), only 3 were live.  Remember, TED is a publisher so they’ll drip out the talks over the next weeks and months to keep us coming back to their site for more.

There were 25 talks out of the 70 that we saw that I will absolutely watch again and want to share. That’s not to say the other 45 aren’t worthy (well, I’ll get to that at the end) but these are the ones I liked most.

Architecture / Design / Creativity

Phil Hansen – The designer that started to have an uncontrollable shake in his hand had to embrace it in his art, and did so with grace and beauty.  INSPIRING

Alastair Parvin – One of the best delivered and organized talks (I’ll say that about only 5-6 of them) has an open sourced system for sharing architectural drawings.  MOTIVATING

Jim Sop Lee – A multi-sensory designer, the inner storyteller in me saw an internet application for the senses I try to inspire in my classes.  THOUGHT PROVOKING

Michael Green – Michael wants to build skyscrapers made out of wood, something currently prohibited in the US. He makes a strong case how this is better for the environment than harmful to it.

Technology / Discovery

Young Richard Turere – Build a security system for his family’s farm in Africa out of scraps and pieced together with a wing and a prayer. HOPEFUL and CHARMING

James Lyne – Hopes that we all change our passwords often and not make dumb mistakes to get hacked. ACTIONABLE

Jack Andraka – The 15 year old wiz-kid has designed a $3 test for pancreatic cancer at the earliest stages. I wonder how many college scholarships he will get?  ASTONISHING


Jennifer Granholm – The former Governor of Michigan opened the conference with a bold statement about the US energy policy and how we can finally have one.  BOLD

Larry Lessig – The lawyer activist gets the award for the most slides using the most different font types. But his message was a much simpler one: Our political system is broken, period. He is also the first to use the word “TEDivism” – clearly a nod toward TED’s experimenting with impacting our US political system.  EVEN BOLDER

Anas – The journalist in Ghana who has gone undercover to stop the killing of disabled or deformed babies, killings in prison and all sorts of other unconscionable corruption.  MASKED


John McWhorter – In his talk defining texting as an extension of our verbal language (not a bastardization of our written one) was when he said “We may talk like we write, but we certainly don’t write like we talk.” FABULOUS

Dan Pallotta – While his talk was about the horrible habit we have as not valuing non-profits for their potential scalability, it came down to one word: overhead. PROVOKING


TED Prize winner Sugata Mitra – of course his talk will be worth watching. His wish for Self Organized Learning is creative and inspiring as an alternative way to educate.  ASPIRATIONAL

Freeman Hrabowski – The president of a college in Baltimore, he’s shaken and stirred how black students can excel in the sciences. HOPEFUL


Steward Brand – He’s all about bringing back extinct animals through their kept DNA and cloning.  One of those talks with an icea I HAVE NEVER CONTEMPLATED.

Allan Savory – The grassland guy.  Another one, having lived in a city my whole life, the greatest grass issue we have is crabgrass. He took me somewhere I never knew existed. STRETCHED

Ron Finley – One of the most truthful, wholehearted talks about growing gardens in South Central LA.  PRIMAL

Kees Moeliker – How could we not laugh at this serious museum curator who wanted to save ducks from killing themselves by flying into windows? WITTY


Amanda Palmer – So, she stole the show. The week. The tweets and the posts.  AMAZING

Adam Spencer – He may be a radio personality, but he’s a math geek too.  Self-depricating and HILARIOUS.

Personal / Life

Shane – The poet from the Canandia Olympics who produced a mesmerizing video about being bullied, performed the same script on stage.  TEAR JERKING

Meg Jay – Makes the argument that 30 is NOT the new 20, but that the 20s have a set of life-changing consequences so make the decisions carefully.  CONTEMPLATIVE

Daniel Reisel – His studies about prisoners and the ability to grow the empathetic system lodged in the amygdala sparked many chords. INTERESTING

Eleanor Longden – Her mis-diagnosis of schizophrenia lead her to manage the voices that did exist in her head, as a result of early childhood trauma.  MESMERIZING

Jim Flynn – Begins to explain how access to technology and products has helped to grow our IQs.  RELEVANT

Joshua Prager – His personal journey to meet the bus driver that left him a quadriplegic was beautiful and poetic.


Orly Wahba – Her pursuit of spreading kindness was supported by a tear-inspiring video and spirited soul.  GORGEOUS

And then a few Ooops!

Jordy – An artist and architect delivered a rambling mess of a talk, highly self-centered and barely acknowledge that the audience was in the room. ABSORBED

Lesley Perkes – An activist from South Africa wandered through her story only to admit to Chris upon leaving the

stage she knew she went over. BRASSY

Christopher Ryan – When he opened with the words “I hope to be accomplished enough someday to be in the audience here at TED,” made me shut out the rest of his talk. And insecure arrogance will get you no followers.  UNPRACTICED

That’s a wrap.  And after I’ve read this list again, it is probably more for me than you – so I don’t forget all the goodness I’ve just digested amongst the brain warp that I’m feeling about now!