TED Talks To Watch, Week of July 22, 2013

TED TalksI've been tearing through my backlog of TED talks; as I move into the 2011 and 2012 talks, I find there are a lot of talks that seem to start out focusing on the speaker, not so much the topic.  It's like somebody told the speaker "TED Talks are powerful if you can link the subject to your life," so I'm seeing more talks that have the most tenuous connection between the personal experience of the speaker and the topic they're there to talk about.  I'm noticing that when I binge-watch TED talks like that, the technique gets tiring and fewer and fewer TED talks stand out.

Having said that, here are a few TED talks that still stood out for me.

The title of Eric Mead's relatively short TED Talk (nine minutes) is "The magic of the placebo" and sure, he does talk about the placebo effect.  But mostly the talk is two magic tricks, and a lot of fun.  I hadn't seen this guy before; now I'd like to find more of him.

Ever wonder if you can have any influence whatsoever on your local, state, or national politicians?  Omar Ahmad tells us that you can, and he tells you the most and least effective ways to get your politician's attention.  It's simple, but you gotta watch him to learn why.

Tom Wujec talks about a simple team-building exercise that he's done many, many times with many different groups of people.  The task is to build a tower with some sticks of dry spaghetti and other stuff, with a marshmallow on top.  What I liked about the talk, though, is that he describes what tends to work and what tends not to work, and why the most successful groups to build the little towers are children.  I like what he has to say about organizational behavior as a result of this simple team-building task.

Christopher "moot" Poole built a website called "4chan", which is this wild, wild west of an online discussion and image posting forum.  It looks like anything goes - no censorship - and Moot points out that the key is that people on the board are anonymous.  It's a short talk (about 11 minutes and change), and interesting to hear about some of the pranks and issues that the board took on.

Patrick Chappatte is a cartoonist; his talk about cartoons' role in journalism is a lot of fun to watch; you'll laugh while hearing a serious talk.


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