Yesterday, I was at Kansas City’s Gem Theater in the historic 18th and Vine District to live tweet TEDx18thAndVine with streamed, time-shifted sessions from 2012 TEDGlobal in Edinburgh, Scotland.

At least that was the original plan for TEDx18thAndVine. Unfortunately, technical challenges at Kansas City's Gem Theater and with the video server had the production team valiantly scrambling onstage and off to keep the crowd engaged, leading to a generous mix of TED Talk archive videos throughout TEDx18thAndVine. Nonetheless, the day was marked by enough intriguing content under the Radical Openness theme to leave one’s head swimming by the end of the day.

Nine mini-recaps from TEDx18thAndVine TED Talks:

Philosophical Espresso

Fast-talking, performing philosopher Jason Silva starred in a 2012 TEDGlobal Radical Openness theme video and then joined Chris Anderson onstage. Talking with Anderson, he described his rapid-fire musings as "Shots of Philosophical Espresso" and "Movie Trailers for Ideas." Just one of the big thoughts from Jason Silva: "Awe makes things new again. And that's ultimately the best drug in the world."

"RADICAL OPENNESS" - for TEDGlobal 2012 by @Jason_Silva from Jason Silva on Vimeo.

Those Who Remember the Past Too Well Are Doomed to Not Understand the Future

Discussing our need to determine a course of action incorporating climate changes underway and those in the future, environmental policy influencer Vicki Arroyo reminded the audience we are entering uncharted territory, and we cannot use the past to plan. Or as Arroyo put it, “Stationarity is dead.”

Learning and Changing Priorities

Andreas Schleicher (Education Surveyor) discussed what sets apart those countries who are leading in educating their youth.  Three specific ideas from his 2012 TEDGlobal presentation that struck me were:

  • "Everyone says education is important. But how do you weigh that priority against others?" (You can ask this question about anything people think is important.)
  • How well kids can extrapolate from what they know to new situations is a measure of their change preparedness. (When facts change rapidly, this is a fundamental future learning skill.)
  • "Learning is not a place but an activity." (A small sentence packing a big challenge to the educational system as we have known it for a century or more.)

Eye Contact vs. “i” contact

One of the previous TED Talks shown at TEDx18thAndVine was from the TED 2012 “Connected, but Alone?” presentation by Sherry Turkle. Her focus was how the constant availability of communication devices changes how we think and interact with others. There weren't necessarily many supporting facts, but there were a variety of standout comments from Sherry Turkle:

  • "If we don't teach our children to be alone, they'll only know how to be lonely."
  • "I share therefore I am."
  • "We expect more from technology & less from each other. Technology appeals to us most where we are most vulnerable."
  • Facebook and Twitter pages make it seem as if other people are listening to you.
  • People think the problem with conversations is that conversations happen in real time (you cannot control when they happen), and you cannot control and limit the interaction.  What matters most to people is to control their own attention for what they want.

Integration > Innovation

Jonathan Trent from NASA focused his TED talk on the OMEGA project that seeks to grow algae in the ocean to create new liquid biofuel. His wrap-up comments on the OMEGA project and success factors for the future came right out of our Brainzooming innovation work:

Suffice it to say the perspectives Jonathan Trent shared about making change happen were right on target.

The Earth Is Rounder than We Think

Globalization thinker Pankaj Ghemawat shared a variety of statistics form his book World 3.0: Global Prosperity and How to Achieve It (affiliate link) to support his point of view that the spread of globalization is many times less than the public believes. Pankaj Ghemawat has a word to describe the big messaging behind the earth being flat (affiliate link) and the pervasiveness of globalization: Globaloney. He suggests globaloney is a result of a dearth of data, peer pressure to see the world as one, and what he calls, “technotransis,” or an inability to NOT be sucked up into the expectation that technology will be all-pervasive and solve the world’s ills.

Step Up and Step Back

At day’s end, percussive guitarists Usman Riaz (the young gun) and legendary guitarist Preston Reed (affiliate link) collaborated on a striking, first-time guitar duet. Afterward, TED host Chris Anderson asked them to do something more, acknowledging they may not have prepared anything by saying, “We just want to see another 30 or 40 seconds, and if it goes horribly wrong, it's fine."

Sure, go for it in front of a global audience. The two guitarists talked briefly and launched into another number, playing out a great lesson if you’re ever asked to improv with someone else: let the junior person shine (Riaz played lead) and the more experienced individual support, providing background and structure (Reed was more “percussive” than “guitarist”). The natural tendency might be to have a more junior person take a step back, but their collaboration showcased Usman Riaz, while making it apparent that Preston Reed was the underpinning to their guitar collaboration.

Words to Live By

"If you want to make something you love (i.e., TED stage time) better, give it away." – Chris Anderson

2012 TEDGlobal Wrap Up

As I tell anyone who asks, watching a streamed TED event is different than watching popular TED Talks from the TED website. When looking at individual videos, you’d think every TED Talk is fantastic. When you watch a whole array of them as they’re delivered, your takeaway is that there are boring and ho-hum TED Talks, too.

You also take away, as I did during yesterday’s 2012 TEDGlobal Session 6: Misbehaving Beautifully that it is good to experience people on the fringes, but you need to not confuse yourself by thinking they represent the mainstream. Radical Openness is fantastic, but sometimes Radical Wariness is called for in equal doses! – Mike Brown


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