The Internet Connectome

Documentary filmmaker and Webby Awards founder Tiffany Shlain has a new project called Let It Ripple. Drawing from her earlier work with the film Connected, TS has combined a TED Book with a short film exploring the parallels between a child’s brain development and the development of the global brain (Internet), offering insights into the best ways to shape both. I just finished the book and viewed the film and find her work both fascinating and important. She is in fact catalyzing the work of a significant brain-trust exploring new and unexpected global connections being made at an accelerated rate. Comparisons of the Internet connectome to the rapid growth and development of a child’s brain seem a fitting metaphor. Highly recommended reading, and  

Equal Justice Initiative

Just back from TED2012 Conference in Long Beach California. Thomas Dolby asked me to play guitar in the house band this year. I’ll post some photos in a bit. Bryan Stevenson gave what I believe will become an iconic talk — in the same league as Jill Taylor or Sir Ken Robinson. Deeply inspiring and motivational, Bryan asks us to balance “TED” (technology, entertainment, design) with empathy, humanity, justice, and compassion. “We will not be judged by our technology, intellect, or reason. Ultimately, the character of a society will be judged not by how they treat the powerful, but by how they treat the poor.” After his talk, he received a breathtaking standing ovation. The raw energy and length of ovation was unequaled by any talk I’ve experienced at a live conference (probably 45 seconds of applause is edited from the video). He is asking us to do something about the injustices in our own country. Later in the conference, Chris Anderson (TED’s curator) asked the audience to help Bryan’s work. Within a short time, over $1.1 million had been pledged.  

CES 2012 Innovation Award

The Consumer Electronics Show is the largest convention in the USA (140,000 visitors, 3,100 exhibitors, 1.4 million square feet). This week, we learned that our latest generation SafePlug invention won the top award of the show:  “Best Innovation of 2012” in the Home Systems category. Want to know more? View my TED Talk which describes the technology. The TED Talk has been translated into 25 languages, has over 300,000 views, and has been featured in Scientific American, Fast Company, and dozens of other  

Power of the Crowd

Humanity wastes 550,000 hours a day typing in the annoying Captcha (200,000,000 Captchas per day * 10s per instance). Luis Von Ahn, inventor of the Captcha, explains why this is a good thing. And if you’ve ever been frustrated by the poor quality of Google Translation, please take 16 minutes and watch his brilliant TED Talk on Massive-Scale Online Collaboration. While you’re hearing about the historically unprecedented power of 100 million people working towards a common goal, be dreaming up your own ways of helping the planet while using your  

Back From TED

Just back from the TED Conference in Long Beach. I went with an agenda this time – to find professional filmmakers who could be my mentors. We’re producing a film on the Ethiopian tribal practice of child sacrifice called mingi. Did I find mentors? Hey, it’s TED. When you put out a little energy, an enormous amount of similar energy comes back to you. In years past, I seem to have helped a number of people with their dreams and ventures. This year, the TED community rallied around our fledgling film project. Thanks to everyone for joining us on this journey. A lady I met at TED blogged about her experience. I love the way she expresses this. It captures what many have expressed about our annual gathering: “Being at Ted was like sitting on the edge of the coast and out of nowhere “ a whale jumps out of the water right in front of you. The encounter takes your breath away. Everything about that animal is magnificent. And then two minutes later a hawk flies close enough that you hear its wings flap and then a pack of pelicans and life just keeps happening – one breathtaking sight, sound, movement and essence after another… The encounters at Ted were like seeing human beings at their most beautiful and free. I’m not a jaded person. The experience of being there went in deep. Their eye contact, thoughts and presence forced growth in me and like much growth “ it was painful. My heart, my lungs, my eyes, my ears and even the inside of my head felt swollen and tender. At the end of five days I was demolished. I also realized there are lots of brilliant people everywhere.” Demolished!! Veteran TED’sters describe something called the “TED Crash” which is a mildly depressive state that sets in about 24 hours after returning home, and lasts for a few days. I’m just coming out of the crash myself. See, when you’re there time is frozen, thoughts and senses are profoundly energized, exceptional ideas are the norm and fly around the conference at light speed. There is almost no way you will be standing or sitting next to someone without striking up what invariably becomes a life-altering conversation. A TED gathering releases the equivalent of intellectual and spiritual adrenaline. From early in the morning to late into the wee hours, there is nothing like a TED Conference. I stay across the harbor at the Marriott, so every morning I can take the 1.5 mi walk to the conference. On my walk, I cross over the Queens Bridge and pass the Long Beach Aquarium. One day, as I approached a pigeon perched at the bridge’s apex, it swooped down gracefully, almost to the water below, and then flew back up over my head. Five minutes later, I passed a field trip of mentally challenged children outside the aquarium. They were cleaning up papers and debris – all of them grinning from ear to ear and having the time of their life, in the moment. Normally, I wouldn’t feel too strongly about the bird, or the kids. But that day, the moment went very deep and caused me to weep with joy and gratitude. Within 10 minutes, I had typed a poem into my Blackberry (I’ve never written a poem in my life!). It’s a little embarrassing, but I’ll share it: Soaring bird. They are speaking to you. The challenged children, Happy to be, Soaring, swooping. In language you may not understand. They will help you to listen. to hear. with their Wings fully extended Soaring. in the moment you have forgotten Both old and new Together, in the ageless dance, conspire and subvert. As a reminder, of timeless harmony and symmetry as certain as old must become New Until both arise, soaring in the sacred unknowing of their  

Addicted to Risk

“Ignore those creeping fears that we have finally hit the wall. There are still no limits. There will always be another frontier. So stop worrying, and keep shopping.” – Naomi Klein, TEDTalk I appreciate Naomi’s voice in the conversation on sustainability vs. risk as we enter the era of “extreme energy.” This is a compelling talk about “master narratives” which may challenge you to reconsider your preconceptions. Her overview on the Alberta Tar Sands is especially powerful. “Just when we understand that we must live off the surface of our planet – off the power of sun, wind, and waves – we are frantically digging to get at the dirtiest, highest carbon-emitting stuff imaginable… This is how Jared Diamond and others have shown that empires commit suicide – by stepping on the accelerator at the exact moment they should be putting on the brakes… Life is too precious to be risked for just any profit… We need different  

Like Spiders Across the Stars

.. “The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars.”  –Jack Kerouac .. In remembrance of Zoe Anderson  

The 18th Camel (15,000 Tribes)

William Ury’s brilliant TEDxTalk on the mediation of conflict. The solution to global mistrust? Invest twenty minutes and find out (as we meet on the balcony). I also want to share one of the comments from TED.com addressing William’s talk… “From this moment on I will no longer identify myself as a member of any group which is in opposition to anything, anyone, or any other group. I will focus my energy on the creation and maintenance of a ‘balcony’ perspective. My position will be one which surrounds issues, my view will be one which includes the right of all views to be represented, my action will be to embrace US ” all of US ” on behalf of the enlightened future we can grow together.” -Puran Lucas