Friday, February 29, 2008

TED University

Each year, on the morning prior to the beginning of the conference, a number of TED attendees give short (10 minute) talks on a range of interesting topics. People register and move from class to class like in university.

A couple stand out for me:

In How to Have Effective Board Meetings I heard the oft-repeated advice to start each board meeting with a short description of the good and bad things that have happened since the last board meeting. But the idea of calling them Peaches, Lemons and Lemonades was great.

The most powerful talk was packed with information about worst-case scenario climate change. The thesis was that climate change was full of discontinuities, and yet the IPCC report was based on conservative linear extrapolations of where we are today. He presented a lot of evidence that could argue for larger and earlier climate change than IPCC predicted, at least equally likely to their predications.
A session on water as game changer was a series of anecdotes about the benefits arising from bringing water to those who hadn’t had it. The story that struck me was the provision of a well in Kenya that enabled a mother to stop walking 5 hours a day just to get water, allowed her to grow a vegetable garden with the time, even produce some extra crops for sale, and allowed the children to go to school since they didn’t have to accompany her on the walk. My memories of the women walking along the roads in Africa for water made this particularly meaningful to me.

Majora Carter (a fabulous speaker from a previous year – see her at had us practising to have a difficult conversation. I was paired up with Jeff Bezos’ mother, a similar age and stage of life as me, and that was quite interesting.

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