TED Talks Worth Your Time. And how!

Movies, TV, Books… and TED talks

I used to post short reviews of good Bollywood films. This is becoming a lost art because they are so few and far between. Living in India, I rarely see movies anymore – the junk they churn out week after week after week. That is why I am amazed when I happen upon a jewel like this. There has been an interval of some six months between good movies, so clearly I’m not going to be spending too much time on this form of entertainment.  

Then, I posted on Indian TV shows. But there was really only one (and what a one that was!). That season’s over too. 😦

Books. Ah…those will never end. I hope that capacity to inhale books will never end either! I read and read. Voraciously. I consider it a precious gift when someone tells me about a good book. Note to myself: I need to get more active on posting about good books and passing it on.

Finally, there are TED talks.  Most are worth every minute of your time. And more.

Why TED Rocks

However, there are thousands of TED talks to pick from. Where do you go?

My secret sauce is to subscribe to TEDTalks on Google Reader. And then, every now and then, I wander over there to see what new talks have been posted. Google Reader has a crisp summary of each and so I just pick up the ones with topics that interest me.   My hit or miss ratio is about 98:2. (The very rare ones that didn’t make the mark were those that did not come across as authentic – more style than substance).

Or you could just go to the TED website and use their search engine to pick what you are interested in.  You can even search on “Rated jaw-dropping“. 🙂

It is no accident that quality is so high. TED talks are carefully constructed and eloquently delivered by TED speakers who are meticulously, I mean meticulously selected. Each of them are given a very precise amount of (short) time – in the 4, 9 or 18 minutes range to deliver the goods.  That’s it.

Many of these talks revolve around topics that the speakers have spent years or even their lifetimes studying.  They are passionate about their topics and they are forced by TED to encapsulate their talks into digestible morsels of time. How can they help but be brilliant?

So, I submit to you, that anyone who has not taken advantage of this wonderful resource by watching, absorbing, learning from many of the TED talks that are freely available, is losing out. Big time!

I have become somewhat of an addict. I think of those few minutes as a great investment. Especially when I think of what else I could have been doing at that time (sleeping, eating, watching the idiot box, watching an idiotic movie….?). I’m a winner all the way. And you can be too.

If you’re not already there, I hope you get on this bandwagon. Pronto.

A Few Recent Picks

To get you started, I present to you my newest picks, each and every one of them definitely worth a watch.

Yah, yah….I know, everyone is too busy in life, blah, blah, blah. But (enter preacher) I tell you, you should make some time in that schedule of yours and if you do, I promise you won’t be sorry!

I have given you the time you would need to watch each one, in case you need more of an incentive to decide. You will receive so much for investing so little, trust me.

TED: Andrew Blum: What is the Internet, really? – Andrew Blum (2012)

Your time investment: 11:59 minutes

SYNOPSIS: When a squirrel chewed through a cable and knocked him offline, journalist Andrew Blum started wondering what the Internet was really made of. So he set out to go see it — the underwater cables, secret switches and other physical bits that make up the net.

My takeaway: You thought the internet was a virtual world? Think again. It is amazingly, incredibly physical. Get a peek into what it’s all about! Quote worth remembering – “Wired people should know their wires.

TED: Ryan Merkley: Online video — annotated, remixed and popped – Ryan Merkley (2012)

Your time investment:  4:25 minutes

SYNOPSIS: Videos on the web should work like the web itself: Dynamic, full of links, maps and information that can be edited and updated live, says Mozilla Foundation COO Ryan Merkley. On the TED stage he demos Popcorn Maker, a new web-based tool for easy video remixing. (Watch a remixed TEDTalk using Popcorn Maker — and remix it yourself.)

My takeaway: If you are in business, marketing, sales or a creator of content, you won’t want to miss this. Video is an often overlooked frontier although it appears to be making more of an appearance now, what with youtube and all the resources available to do-it-yourself. This fascinating talk gives us even more resources – and they are free!  Awesome!

TED: Pankaj Ghemawat: Actually, the world isn’t flat – Pankaj Ghemawat (2012)

Your time investment:  17:03 minutes

SYNOPSIS: It may seem that we’re living in a borderless world where ideas, goods and people flow freely from nation to nation. We’re not even close, says Pankaj Ghemawat. With great data (and an eye-opening survey), he argues that there’s a delta between perception and reality in a world that’s maybe not so hyperconnected after all.

My takeaway: Here’s an economist who is the “anti-Tom Friedman”. He’s packed with numbers and facts and not shy about using them to tell you why the world isn’t as flat as Tom says it is. So many people believe what Friedman believes – without any data to back up the claim (count me in as guilty too). This talk opened my eyes; I think it’s simply a must-watch.

TED: Melissa Marshall: Talk nerdy to me – Melissa Marshall (2012)

Your time investment – 4:34 minutes

SYNOPSIS: Melissa Marshall brings a message to all scientists (from non-scientists): We’re fascinated by what you’re doing. So tell us about it — in a way we can understand. In just 4 minutes, she shares powerful tips on presenting complex scientific ideas to a general audience.

My takeaway: Wonderful tips on the art of communication – especially for those who tend towards scientific, engineering or technical jargon. Sometimes we forget the most important job – how to communicate well – anything from amazing discoveries to life-changing feats, and because we don’t do that well, the world loses out.

TED: Amy Cuddy: Your body language shapes who you are – Amy Cuddy (2012)

Your time investment – 21:02 minutes

SYNOPSIS: Body language affects how others see us, but it may also change how we see ourselves. Social psychologist Amy Cuddy shows how “power posing” — standing in a posture of confidence, even when we don’t feel confident — can affect testosterone and cortisol levels in the brain, and might even have an impact on our chances for success.

My takeaway:  “Our bodies change our minds, our minds change our behavior, our behavior changes our outcomes”.  Don’t believe it? Just watch this talk.



TED, as most of you know, stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design.  

It may as well stand for Learn, Grow, Wonder (even if the letters don’t match). That more aptly describes what I gain (profusely) each time I watch a TED talk.





Posted on November 18, 2012, in expat, india, recommendations, technology, US and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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