The non-profit organisation devoted to encouraging, spreading and broadcasting great ideas on the subjects of technology, education and design – more commonly known as TED – last month published their top talks of all time by popularity. The statistics have been gathered from a variety of outlets, including YouTube, iTunes, Hulu and the website’s own embedded videos.
If you’ve never watched a TED talk before then this list provides the perfect introduction to the infectious creativity and forethought demonstrated by some of the planet’s most inspirational thinkers. In short, it’s a great way to catch up on the buzz – just be sure not to have too much to do before you start watching!
So join me this week in examining a selection of what I’m going to call “Top of the TEDs”, and add your own favourites in the comments below this post.
The first talk on the list, which made this one the most popular TED video ever, is from author and educationalist Sir Ken Robinson on the controversial subject of education reforms. The British speaker has received numerous educational awards and honorary degrees and in 2003 was knighted for his services to the arts.
In this light and entertaining talk, Ken sheds some light on his theory that schools should focus on nurturing creativity rather than what they are currently doing, which is apparently the reverse.
2. Jill Bolte Taylor’s stroke of insight (2008)
In 1996, Jill Bolte Taylor had a massive stroke, and watched as her brains functions began shutting down one by one. She couldn’t move, talk, think or remember and it took her 8 long years to recover the functions she lost. She also had an opportunity, and studied the debilitating experience of a brain haemorrhage as it happened.
Jill has since written a book, and this talk goes into some of the details she discusses within that text – about having a stroke, about studying the event and of course about regaining what she lost.
SixthSense is a very promising device that has geeks the world over salivating at the potential real-world uses for such a thing. Incorporating a projector, mirror and camera, the augmented reality device is designed to use surfaces and gestures to better make use of the world around us.
If you’ve yet to hear much about SixthSense then Pranav Mistry’s talk about what can potentially be achieved with such a device in time will probably stir up some anticipation. Interestingly, the device has been open sourced which will allow development and input from anyone who wishes to try their hand at it.
4. David Gallo’s underwater astonishments (2007)
In 2007 oceanographer David Gallo claimed that 97% of the oceans are uncharted territory – meaning we’ve only truly explored 3% of the bodies of water that make up the majority of our planet. In this talk David whets our appetites by introducing some truly stunning creatures that come from the deepest, darkest corners of the earth.
David has been involved in important projects such as the exploration of wrecks including RMS Titanic and the Bismarck. This particular talk is unmissable for its stunning footage of the incredible work of nature.
If the above talk about the potential and theoretical real-world uses for SixthSense was enough to pique your interest, this real-world demonstration of the technology will probably be of interest. While Pratav spearheaded the last talk this one is taken on mostly by Pattie Maes, associate professor at MIT’s Media Arts and Sciences department.
Featuring some proof of concept work such as reading a newspaper with moving video, using a wall to show off some photos and using the camera to detect what he is reading, Pratav gives us a demo of the device from his MIT lab.
6. Tony Robbins asks why we do what we do (2006)
Motivational speaker and author of several self-help books Tony Robbins asks an important and oft pondered question – why do we do what we do. It’s no secret that Tony makes a living from selling self-help materials, but don’t be put off because his TED talk is interesting even if you’re not a believer in self-help practices.
At one point in the rather interesting talk Tony Robbins high-fives environmental activist and ex Vice President Al Gore for his input to the talk. It’s actually hard to stop watching Robbins as he darts around stage encouraging the audience to join in.
The rest of the list featured in the TED blog post are as follows, with positions correct as of August 21 2012:
7. Simon Sinek on how great leaders inspire action (2010)
8. Steve Jobs on how to live before you die (2005)
9. Hans Rosling shows the best stats you’ve ever seen (2006)
10. Brene Brown talks about the power of vulnerability (2010)
11. Daniel Pink on the surprising science of motivation (2009)
12. Arthur Benjamin does mathemagic (2005)
13. Elizabeth Gilbert on nurturing your genius (2009)
14. Dan Gilbert asks: Why are we happy? (2004)
15. Stephen Hawking asks big questions about the universe (2008)
16. Jeff Han demos his breakthrough multi-touchscreen (2006)
17. Johnny Lee shows Wii Remote hacks for educators (2008)
18. Keith Barry does brain magic (2004)
19. Mary Roach 10 things you didn’t know about orgasm (2009)
20. Vijay Kumar demos robots that fly like birds (2012)
Don’t forget these are only the most popular TED talks, and not necessarily the best! Discuss the list and add your favourites in the comments below.