Speed of Light

TED is the Anti-News

When I was younger, I used to watch CNN all Summer long. There was always something new to hear about the world and I got to learn about what was happening as it happened. Knowing about what's happening in the world is part of our new quest for Fire after all.

But as I grew up, I started to grow apart from television news as it seemed to change. September 11th happened and channels like CNN introduced the news ticker, which constantly streamed textual headlines while you were listening to the headlines (yo dawg). News stations like CNN literally started playing a beating war-drum sound between segments of broadcast, as America entered a war in Afghanistan and invaded Iraq. It was no longer exciting or fascinating, it was just scary and sad.

Around that time is when I stopped watching the news and when asked if I'd heard about such and such an event, I'd just say “I don't watch the News, because it's really just Bad News.” Had I heard about a hurricane or a tsunami or a mineshaft collapse? Had I heard about economic downturn and corporate scandals? In time, I eventually heard about some of these events, but not knowing didn't negatively affect me. In fact, I've felt better for not knowing.

It's strange to live in a world where hearing about wars or stock prices or even copyright lawsuits is more newsworthy or interesting than learning about scientific or artistic discoveries. People originally started sitting down to watch the evening news to get a sense of what was happening in their greater community, but that's not what's shown on the news these days.

This is why I feel TED fills that role better than what's on the news. TED is a set of conferences for the world's greatest thinkers and doers, scientists, politicians, engineers, teachers, artists. All the greatest minds giving 20-minute or shorter presentations on new ideas and discoveries. TED videos are every bit as professional and entertaining as television news, and are just as informative. But the subject matter is positive and fosters inspiration, instead of fear, in the community.

Every night when I get home from work and want to catch up on what's new in the world, I visit TED and watch a video or five. I learn and become inspired to do good in the world. I could probably link to just about any video hosted on the site, but I've narrowed it down to a few favourites for your perusal.

  1. How fiction can change reality
  2. The real-life culture of bonobos
  3. The linguistic genius of babies
  4. The birth of a word
  5. Erin McKean redefines the dictionary
  6. Jeff Hawkins on how brain science will change computing
  7. What we learn before we're born
  8. Chip Kidd: Designing books is no laughing matter. OK, it is.
  9. Tim Berners-Lee on the next Web
  10. Ayah Bdeir: Building blocks that blink, beep and teach

Enjoy.