tag:tedchris.posthaven.com,2013:/posts TEDChris: The untweetable 2016-12-13T05:22:01Z Chris Anderson tag:tedchris.posthaven.com,2013:Post/169258 2012-11-04T15:22:00Z 2016-12-13T05:22:01Z Where the lights are still out...


As Hurricane Sandy restoration efforts continue, TED offices had power restored yesterday, along with most areas of Manhattan. But many other parts of New York and New Jersey continue to suffer. A member of the TED Team Thaniya Keereepart shared this experience from her visit to one of the worst-hit areas of Brooklyn:

"Tonight I went out with some friends down to the heart of Red Hook projects to volunteer for disaster recovery. I was sort of expecting that I would just drop off food, clothing, and supplies and help out at the center where I could. I found something different there that compelled me to share with you.

Upon entering the main office area of the volunteer center, the scene was pure chaos. A little girl rushed up to whoever she thought knew anything about anything. She wanted insulin for her mother who wasn't able to come down 16 flights of stairs in darkness. There was none to give out. She took the last of the ice packs and was told that it will help keep whatever insulin left in the house cold and longer lasting.

Rodents were also a big problem. The water had pushed critters up the building. Without light or power, they would crawl everywhere. Raccoons, rats, the works.

War breaks out at the sight of a flashlight, or batteries, or blankets.

We were asked to go get water from Coffey Park by one of the coordinator. Five of us set foot into the night. The streets were dangerous. Teenage boys howled at the sight of us. Crime is high here. Why were there water at the park? The National Guard came by earlier and dumped a bunch there as a part of their "rescue effort". The only light source around at this point was this one mobile flood light that shone on 3 cops who we spoke to briefly. Their job seemed to be simply to stand in the light to emit presence.

We quickly realize that this volunteer center was not only immensely inefficient, but will likely not be able to continue to provide support to the much needed community for all of the projected 14 days without more help. My friend JuAnne, a project manager at Google, and myself took it upon ourselves to analyze the workflow of the volunteer resources with the current heroic coordinator Kirby. Our hope is to build a light weight system that could help improve volunteer process efficiency ...in 36 hours.

Turns out, the tool the Red Hook team currently uses, and the one that i found them on, is from http://recovers.org -- and there's a TEDTalk on it! This same platform is deployed for LES, Staten Island, and Astoria as well ...all for Sandy."

[Edit: More details from Thaniya are included in this TED Blog post.]

I'm proud of Thaniya and the efforts of heroic volunteers all around the area. As we return to work tomorrow, we will take some time to share stories and figure out what else we might do to help.

Meanwhile, anyone wanting to engage could take a look at the following community sites:

...and here's a HuffPo report from Red Hook yesterday. 

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Chris Anderson
tag:tedchris.posthaven.com,2013:Post/169262 2012-11-02T17:00:00Z 2013-10-08T15:57:16Z A stealthy serial killer and a thought experiment

I took time out from Hurricane Sandy chaos yesterday to trek up town Manhattan to a cafe featuring actual electricity and a breakfast to meet Gordon and Avril Samuel, a British couple whose story I wish I didn't know so well.  We both lost a daughter in 2010 to carbon monoxide poisoning.  

Here is their daughter Katie (above) and my daughter Zoe. 

  

Here's Katie's story.  And Zoe's.  

And here's a thought experiment for you. If you knew there was a serial killer loose who entered people's homes undetected and silently dispatched his victims... and if you knew he had killed more than 500 people in the last year in the US and UK and showed no signs of letting up... and if you knew that any family could guard their homes against him for a couple hundred dollars...  but this wasn't happening because the companies and authorities who could do something about it weren't interested...  wouldn't you be a little bit outraged?

That's the carbon monoxide enigma.  Detectors are cheap and effective. But in the US and UK and most of Europe, there is no legislation requiring their installation.  Gas companies seem reluctant to highlight the dangers for fear of scaring people off gas. Insurers have no interest -- a human death, unlike a house fire, does not cost them.  The same governments who will make multi-billion dollar investments on commercial airline safety decline to act. Airplane risks capture the public imagination, despite the fact total deaths in recent years in the west are, literally, zero.   CO deaths trickle in one at a time, largely under the radar. Approximately 50 in the UK last year. 400+ in the US. Both numbers probably significantly understated, because the deaths are often mysterious. 

Meanwhile millions of home owners install smoke detectors, but not CO detectors, despite the fact that you can see and smell smoke, and you can't see or smell CO.  

Gordon and Avril are working to change all this. They started a foundation for Katie, launched a youtube video, and are campaigning to change the law in the UK.

I admire what they're doing.  And if anyone has suggestions for how to make a breakthrough on this issue, I -- and they -- would love to hear.  

And if you don't have CO detectors in your home, or those of people you love...  you should. Good guide here. An idea worth spreading.
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Chris Anderson
tag:tedchris.posthaven.com,2013:Post/169265 2012-10-22T17:58:00Z 2013-10-08T15:57:16Z Sports matches decided by God?

I've had a thing for the San Francisco Giants ever since I moved to the Bay Area (from England) in the mid 90s.  So I was as happy as anyone last night to see their improbable comeback continue, led by the stellar pitching of Ryan Vogelsong. 

How did he do it? Focus? Years of hard practice? Buster Posey's calls for a rare blizzard of fast-balls?  The intensity of the crowd?  All of the above plus a little luck? Vogelsong had a different explanation:

“I just believe that God had a plan for me this whole time,” Vogelsong said.  “I feel like all the stuff that I went through—going to Japan and going to winter ball at 33 years old, and getting back here last year, is stuff that He was doing for me to get me prepared for this moment.”
I grew up with that way of looking at the world.  Everything that happens to you is part of God's plan. As promoted in many evangelical circles, this idea is supposed to apply down to the very last detail, including which aisle you end up in at the supermarket.  It can be comforting in rough times, thrilling in great times. Only problem is it makes no sense. 

You can just about picture a god able and willing to execute a multi-year plan involving Japan and winter ball all in order for Vogelsong to win last night. But that same plan must then include a truly miserable evening for 400,000 people in St Louis.  Just seems a tad unlikely.  

Reminded me of the young woman I saw on US TV at the end of 2004 flown home safely from Sri Lanka,  gushing that God had saved her from the terrible tsunami.  (While for some reason deciding to leave a quarter of a million others to drown.)

There is no possible way to have a world view in which God plans in detail the interconnected, and often tragic, lives of 7 billion people (not to mention a world that includes such delights as the Guinea Worm) and still be someone who you'd want to, you know, worship.  Tom Honey gave a TED talk about this.  Make of it what you will. But meanwhile, please, good Christian sports heroes: try a different narrative. It's not surrendering your ego to "offer the glory to God".  Saying that is actually deeply ego-centric. It's claiming that God's plan for you matters more than his plan for all those people whose day you just spoiled.

P.S. In the unlikely event you ever read this, Ryan V... thanks for a great night!
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Chris Anderson
tag:tedchris.posthaven.com,2013:Post/169268 2012-07-19T18:09:14Z 2013-10-08T15:57:16Z 9 reasons I'm excited by the new TEDBooks app After a couple of weeks in Beta, the new TED Books app launched today on iPad and iPhone and I'm incredibly excited about it. Here's why.

1. It brings together all of our authors in one irresistible package. 16 current titles with new ones to be released every two weeks. 

   

2. It's free. I think a lot of people are going to download it. The titles cost $2.99 each BUT see 9 below for a tasty surprise....  

3. The app offers all the goodies you'd expect in the age of the tablet: glorious images, video, audio, links to maps, online resources, search, commenting, sharing, automatically updated editions, and much more.  

4. But, crucially, the app retains the linear narrative thread that makes reading so appealing. Some ambitious attempts to create ebooks on a tablet have somehow abandoned this. When you snuggle up with a book, you want the author to take you on a journey. You don't want to have to make constant choices as to what to look at. If you think of a book as a wonderful train journey, some ebook apps effectively boot you off the train and make you travel by rental car. They make you explore more than you want to. I see the the TEDBooks app as retaining the feel of a train journey but with the added bonus that you can look up from time to time and enjoy spectacular new views. In other words, you start at the beginning, and continue through to the end. But from time to time, when an image or a video or an external link could add to the meaning of what you're reading, they are there for you to enjoy. 
    This is why we commissioned our partners at The Atavist to build this app for us. Of all the e-book developers, it seemed to us they had best understood how to combine new media wizardry with the traditional lure of reading. Try it out. This are lots of enhancements to come.  But what's already here is pretty amazing.

5. Each book can be read in a single session. Just an hour or so. I see this as a terrific fit for our over-busy lives. One reason reading has been in decline is that it's just too daunting to start a traditional 80,000-word book knowing it will take hours and hours to complete. You could argue that traditional books are the length they are in part because people once had fewer competing claims on their leisure time, and in part because the physical nature of a printed product means that books have to be a couple hundred pages long to feel like value for money.   
    But today the question to ask of a non-fiction book is: what is the right length to explain this idea?  There are many 80,000 word nonfiction books that communicate most of their value in a couple of chapters, the rest padded out because -- well, gee --  books just have to be a certain length. We're excited to offer books that are mostly in the 15,000  - 20,000 word range. And just as an 18-minute talk can often (because of the discipline of compression) be better than a 60-minute talk, so these short books encourage authors to offer focused gems of explanation.

6. Our authors rock! Most of them have given TED Talks (and these are included by the way, in each book as a video epilogue), but the books dig into their subject matter far more deeply than their TED Talk ever could. A TED Talk is typically 2,000 words. These are 10x more. From the future of humanity to the secrets of happiness, these books offer transformational thinking.

7. We're offering authors a new publishing model.Traditionally the time from completion of manuscript to appearance on the street is as much as a year. In this format we can shrink that to a month or less. And instead of offering authors 10-12% of cover price, we split proceeds with them 50/50. (And by the way, all of our share of the revenue is being reinvested to grow this platform).

8. It's the logical next step for TED. Our mission is "ideas worth spreading". The talks have proved a hit, having been viewed more than 800 million times. But people inspired or intrigued by those talks tell us they want to dig deeper. The best way to do that is in a book.  

And last, but most definitely not least....

9. We're unveiling today a new way to collect books: by subscription. We're releasing a new book every 2 weeks, and we'd like people to own every single one of them. Why? The same reason why many people want to watch a wide range of TED Talks. There's terrific benefit to signing up for breadth of knowledge as well as depth. This is the path to:
- multi-disciplinary stimulation
- unexpected inspiration and insight
- a richer understanding of the world
- an expanded sense of possibility
- a reading experience shared with many others. "Have you read this week's TED book?!."
People have come to trust TED's curation of talks, accepting that we'll only post what we consider to be really interesting and significant. We're asking for the same level of trust when it comes to book selections. And in a time-constrained world that's going to be very appealing to some people. Given a landscape of millions of competing titles out there, it overcomes the difficulty of discovery.  
    Strategically, building a strong subscriber base is key to the future of TED Books.  That's why we've made the launch subscription offer irresistible.  $15 not only buys a three month subscription, and therefore the next six titles we publish. It also buys the right to download and own every single existing title, all 15 of them. I hope you'll download the app, become one of our founder subscribers and help us invent the future of reading.

P.S. Yes, an Android version (inc Kindle Fire) to follow. Yes, TED Books also available as Kindle Singles and on Nook, iBook and more. Details here

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Chris Anderson
tag:tedchris.posthaven.com,2013:Post/169273 2012-07-11T20:33:00Z 2013-10-08T15:57:16Z Behind TED's Global Talent Search
Today we unveiled the video results of a round-the-world tour.  It's a wonderful collection of 293 talks and performances, most of them shorter than 6 minutes. 

TED's Content Director Kelly Stoetzel and I attended special salons in 14 cities on six continents hosted by our local TEDx partners.  Our goal was to find new talent to invite to California early next year for our TED2013 conference whose theme is "The Young. The Wise. The Undiscovered."  

Here's what typically happened:
- hundreds of people had applied online for each event, giving a summary of what they wanted to do or say, and including a one-minute youtube video application. 
- these had been combed through in advance and the best 20-30 selected for the salon.
- we arrived the prior day and began a series of rehearsals with each speaker.
- the Salons themselves lasted a couple hours, watched by a local audience ranging in size from 150-600.

Kelly and I were thrilled by the overall quality of what we saw. We were hoping that one or two people in each location would merit an invite to TED2013, and we ended up excited at many more than that. But the whole process has been an experiment in crowd-sourcing talent, and you now have a crucial role to play!

We're eager for as many people as possible to view these videos and tell us which ones you'd love to see more of.  Just to give you a sense of the variety here, they include:
- a virtuoso violinist
- the inventor of a water-less bath
- a lesson in Vedic mathematics
hiphop dancers who use sign language
- a cabbage-catapulting comedian
- a National Geographic photographer of dangerous animals
- a dazzling artist-turned-architect
- a 13-year-old Masai boy who invented a lighting system to scare off lions

We suspect some of the above should get TED2013 invites, others probably not... but we're going to be reading every public comment before we finally make up our minds. And there are scores of other remarkable videos in the collection -- powerful personal stories, scientific discoveries, ingenious inventions, provocative ideas, gorgeous artistic endeavors and much more.

If you discover someone you really like, please share that link. If you do so on Twitter, use the hashtag #TEDTalentSearch. You'll be giving that speaker/performer a real gift.  (And if you come across someone you really don't want to see more of, it's good to share that too via the comment section.)

We'll make our final decisions on who to invite in September. Meanwhile, this video collection can act as its own generator of ideas worth spreading.

Over to you!
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Chris Anderson
tag:tedchris.posthaven.com,2013:Post/169282 2012-06-20T03:20:00Z 2013-10-08T15:57:16Z TED.com has a new video player!

This has been a long time in the works, and I'm really excited to see it live. Our new player allows much higher-definition video.  It also auto-adjusts for people's bandwidth to minimize any buffering issues.

Here's a screenshot from the old player at full-screen. (From Reggie Watts' hilarious "talk".)

And here's the same scene in the new player. (Click to full-screen to really see the difference.)

I'm currently at a hotel in Edinburgh on limited bandwidth. Last week, I would probably have had the dreaded buffering wheel. Today, not seeing it.  Just Reggie in HD. 

There's a lot more innovation coming on TED.com.  Exciting days...

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Chris Anderson
tag:tedchris.posthaven.com,2013:Post/169293 2012-05-17T18:16:00Z 2014-07-11T17:58:31Z TED and inequality: The real story

Today TED was subject to a story so misleading it would be funny... except it successfully launched an aggressive online campaign against us.

The National Journal alleged we had censored a talk because we considered the issue of inequality "too hot to handle." The story ignited a firestorm of outrage on Reddit, Huffington Post and elsewhere. We were accused of being cowards. We were in the pay of our corporate partners. We were the despicable puppets of the Republican party. 

Here's what actually happened.

At TED this year, an attendee pitched a 3-minute audience talk on inequality. The talk tapped into a really important and timely issue. But it framed the issue in a way that was explicitly partisan. (The talk is explicitly attacking what he calls an article of faith for Republicans. He criticizes Democrats too, but only for not also attacking this idea more often.) And it included a number of arguments that were unconvincing, even to those of us who supported his overall stance, such as the apparent ruling out of entreprenurial initiative as a root cause of job creation. The audience at TED who heard it live (and who are often accused of being overly enthusiastic about left-leaning ideas) gave it, on average, mediocre ratings - some enthusiastic, others critical.

At TED we post one talk a day on our home page. We're drawing from a pool of 250+ that we record at our own conferences each year and up to 10,000 recorded at the various TEDx events around the world, not to mention our other conference partners. Our policy is to post only talks that are truly special. And we try to steer clear of talks that are bound to descend into the same dismal partisan head-butting people can find every day elsewhere in the media.

We discussed internally and ultimately told the speaker we did not plan to post. He did not react well. He had hired a PR firm to promote the talk to MoveOn and others, and the PR firm warned us that unless we posted he would go to the press and accuse us of censoring him. We again declined and this time I wrote him and tried gently to explain in detail why I thought his talk was flawed. 

So he forwarded portions of the private emails to a reporter and the National Journal duly bit on the story. And it was picked up by various other outlets.

And a non-story about a talk not being chosen, because we believed we had better ones, somehow got turned into a scandal about censorship. Which is like saying that if I call the New York Times and they turn down my request to publish an op-ed by me, they're censoring me.

For the record, pretty much everyone at TED, including me, worries a great deal about the issue of rising inequality. We've carried talks on it in the past, like this one from Richard Wilkinson. We'd carry more in the future if someone can find a way of framing the issue that is convincing and avoids being needlessly partisan in tone.

Also, for the record, we have never sought advice from any of our advertisers on what we carry editorially. To anyone who knows how TED operates, or who has observed the noncommercial look and feel of the website, the notion that we would is laughable. We only care about one thing: finding the best speakers and the best ideas we can, and sharing them with the world. For free. I've devoted the rest of my life to doing this, and honestly, it's pretty disheartening to have motives and intentions taken to task so viciously by people who simply don't know the facts.

One takeaway for us is that we're considering at some point posting the full archive from future conferences (somewhere away from the home page). Perhaps this would draw the sting from the accusations of censorship. Here, for starters, is the talk concerned. You can judge for yourself...

No doubt it will now, ironically, get stupendous viewing numbers and spark a magnificent debate, and then the conspiracy theorists will say the whole thing was a set-up!

OK... thanks for listening. Over and out.  

[Edit: Had to switch off commenting for a couple days because of a Posterous notification bug that was driving people crazy. They say it's fixed now. If you comment and get notifications you don't want, you should be able to immediately unsubscribe.]

[Edit: One other reporter's take..]

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Chris Anderson
tag:tedchris.posthaven.com,2013:Post/169312 2012-04-25T11:52:00Z 2013-10-08T15:57:17Z The thinking behind the new open platform of TED-Ed

Big day. After more than a year of planning and dreaming, we're finally launching our new TED-Ed website, whose goal is to offer teachers a thrilling new way to use video.

The site is in Beta. But we think there's enough there to show why we're so excited about this.  Because the goal is to allow any teacher to take a video of their choice (yes, any video on YouTube, not just ours) and make it the heart of a "lesson" that can easily be assigned in class or as homework, complete with context, follow-up questions and further resources.  

This whole process is explained really well in a video the TED-Ed team just created.

So don't think of this site yet as a fully-fledged content library -- the  60 video lessons there currently are strong, but they're just seeds to demonstrate potential. Instead, think of TED-Ed as a new open platform.  

Let's step back a minute.  In recent years at TED, we've become enamored of a strategy we call "radical openness": Don't try to do big things yourself. Instead empower others to do them with you.

This has served us well. Sharing TEDTalks free online has built a global community of idea seekers and spreaders.  Opening up our transcripts has allowed 7500 volunteers to translate the talks into 80+ languages.  And giving away the TEDx brand in the form of free licenses, has spawned more than 4000 TEDx events around the world. 

So it's natural that we would look to this approach as we embark on our education initiative. 

TED-Ed uses the power of "open" in two major ways. First, many of you joined in our excitement as we launched our new TED-Ed YouTube channel last month and invited teachers and animators to collaborate in producing the raw video content. It's thrilling that almost a thousand of each have already stepped forward, and the first fruits of those collaborations are already coming through and are highly promising. Check out this one for example.

But the second part, launching today, incorporates the talents of a much wider group of teachers... and also many people outside formal education. Because what we've created is a set of tools that allows you to take a video and turn it into a powerful lesson that can easily be customized, shared and the usage of it made visible to you.  

I's not just professional teachers who can make use of it. Here, for example, is a lesson I just created in 3 minutes on TED-Ed. It's a customization of a brilliant animated TED-Ed video about atoms. I've added my own headline, intro, questions and follow-up links. If you go there and answer those questions (from a logged-in account) I'll be able to track how you did!

And it's not just TED-Ed videos that can be treated this way. You can do this with any video on YouTube that allows 3rd party embedding, i.e. almost all of them.  I'm a fan of a YouTube video that cleverly demonstrates pendulum waves. It took me just a few minutes to turn it into this lesson. (You can't yet add multiple choice questions to YouTube videos, but that's coming.)

It seems to us there are many possible uses of this functionality. Our longer term dream is that we will be able to aggregate the best lessons that teachers create and share them with a wider audience. 

So we see this next phase as being one of listening, learning and watching what people actually do with the site. Apart from anything else it will help enhance the educational potential of the rest of the TED website. One of the repeated requests from teachers regarding TEDTalks has been the desire to present them with added materials that allow someone to dig deeper. The TED-Ed tools allow anyone to do just that. (And we ourselves will be working with many of our speakers to encourage them to create such lessons based on their talks.) 

High on our developmental priority list is to enable translation of our TED-Ed talks via the large community of translators already supporting TED.  We also plan to make it possible for teachers and students to log-in using their Facebook accounts instead of having to set up a TED account. 

But I would love you to give TED-Ed a try in its current form.  Specifically, I'd like you to make sure you try "flipping" a video to turn into a lesson that you can then publish, even if you just keep the link private.  So go to the site, find a lesson, say this one, and click "flip this lesson" at the bottom right of the video.

The term "flipping" is intended as a respectful nod to the exciting concept of "flip teaching" in which lessons are assigned on video as homework to allow kids to learn at their own pace, and to open up class time. The benefits of flip teaching are still formally unproven -- it's early days -- but it holds great promise:
• Students using video outside class can learn at their own pace. Those who get stuck can replay and watch again.
• By allowing the students to absorb the basics of a lesson before coming to class, time is opened up in class for inquiry, discussion, collaboration, critical thinking and personalized attention.
Essentially, flip teaching allows teachers to time-shift and to expand total learning time.

We hope our new site will make it easier for teachers to experiment with this concept.

This would be a good moment to acknowledge the amazing encouragement we've had. Our Braintrust (see bottom of this page) includes Jon Bergmann and Aaron Sams, two of the pioneers of flip teaching, plus many at TED who've inspired us such as Sir Ken Robinson, Salman Khan, John Hunter, Melinda Gates and Jackie Bezos.  Also the spectacular work done by Seso in developing the site. And needless to say, I happen to think our fast-growing TED-Ed team, led by Logan Smalley, are miracle workers.

Do please share your feedback, either here in the comments or by emailing education@ted.com. We're eager to know how you think TED-Ed might best be used, and how we might improve it.  If it works, it will be, as ever, through the power of all of us.  

 


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Chris Anderson
tag:tedchris.posthaven.com,2013:Post/169319 2012-03-19T13:29:00Z 2013-10-08T15:57:17Z Abundance vs disruption: dramatically different views of the future
At this month's TED conference, there was animated debate between two sharply differing views of the future.

ONE: The future will be one of scarcity and disruption.  Economic growth has run up against the limits of what our planet can offer. 

TWO: The future will be one of abundance, driven by technological innovation. We're only just starting to tap human potential. 

The first view was eloquently represented in this talk by Paul Gilding, the second in a powerful talk from Peter Diamandis.  After they spoke, I brought them on stage to debate each other directly. Here is the footage of that debate, which quickly became the main talking point of the conference, with the TED audience split nearly 50/50.

What makes the debate especially fascinating -- other than the fact that, um, our entire future is at stake here! -- is that on top of the factual debate, there is another whole layer around the tools of persuasion. Which is the more powerful motivator to persuade humanity to shape a better future: fear or hope -- or perhaps some nuanced combination of both?  

I can't easily think of a more important set of questions we should be thinking about!

Do you agree? And who do you think won this particular debate? 
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Chris Anderson
tag:tedchris.posthaven.com,2013:Post/169322 2012-03-19T09:54:00Z 2013-10-08T15:57:17Z YouTube commenters let rip on TED-Ed!
When TED Talks first launched in 2006, it took more than 4 months for us to rack up our first million views. TED-Ed, which launched on YouTube last Monday, did the same in just one week. That's certainly exciting, but of course the TED brand is far better known now than six years ago. Numbers are only part of the story.

The biggest single factor on which I judge if something is going to take off is the tone of responses to it.  Like vs LOVE!  It's really only the latter that gives you a chance of viral lift-off. (It's fine to have critics... just so long as there's an audience who responds with real passion!)  Our goal was to spark curiosity... to make learning fun. Teachers we showed the material to seemed excited. But what about learners themselves?

I've been on tenterhooks this past week watching the comments come in. YouTube comments don't always make for comfortable reading. But to our delight, the YouTube hordes began offering up some gems. Real beauties. Here are a few of them... selected from comment streams to several of the TED-Ed videos posted.  Promising, right?

(click on right-hand arrow to advance to next comment)

At the same time, we've had more than a thousand teachers and animators offering to help create new videos.  And plans for part 2 of our launch (which will bring TED-Ed to TED.com in a surprising way) are nearing completion. Can't wait to launch this next month!  

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Chris Anderson
tag:tedchris.posthaven.com,2013:Post/169323 2012-03-12T11:00:00Z 2015-09-14T03:22:03Z Behind today's TED-Ed launch
Today marks a big new chapter in the TED story, as we unveil the first part of our TED-Ed initiative.  Announcement.  YouTube channel.

Viewed one way, it's just the release on YouTube of a dozen short videos created for high school students and life-long learners. But we're committed to growing this archive to hundreds of videos within a year, and I thought it would be helpful to jot down a few personal notes on why we're doing this... ...because there's a right and a wrong way to interpret today's launch.

The wrong way is to imagine that we believe this to be some kind of grand solution.  "TED claims its new TED-Ed videos will transform education"!  Er, no. We don't. 

The right way is to see this as our reaching out to teachers and saying: Can we help?

Teachers are heroes. That's pretty much the founding principle of TED-Ed.  TED's core mission is to spread great ideas and teachers are right there at the deep end. They've dedicated their lives to helping shape the minds of the next generation. There is no more noble or important work -- and it is scandalous that it is not better recognized or remunerated. 

One of the most thrilling developments at TED in the past few years has been seeing some of the world's best educators (in the broadest sense) reaching the size of audience that they deserve. The talk of education reformer Sir Ken Robinson has been seen on all platforms more than 11 million times... and is still being viewed by more than 10,000 people every day.  Indeed every talk we post now on the ted.com home page gets viewed by tens of thousands of people in its first few hours online.  But most of these talks are aimed at adults. And even though many of them are being used in classrooms, at a typical 18 minutes length, they simply displace too much class time.   

And so the question we've been asking with increasing urgency the past couple years is: could we do something similar to TED Talks that would work better in schools? Something that would give teachers a useful new tool. And more than that, could we create a platform that would allow teachers to share their best lesson to a much wider audience?

15 months ago we hired Logan Smalley, a TED Fellow with a proven passion for teaching and technology,  and together we've spent a lot of time this past year listening to educators, and members of the TED community, and figuring out what TED could best offer.  Here is some of what we heard.

- Video does indeed have a powerful role to play in education.  
- It allows great lessons to be shared online with vastly bigger audiences.
- It allows teachers to show things that would be hard to show live in every class.
- It also can allow kids to learn at their own pace (hello, replay button).
- The best length for a video to be used in class is under 10 minutes.
- The best videos often use animation or other visualization techniques to deliver better explanations and more compelling narratives.

HOWEVER, none of this, for a moment, displaces the teacher. On the contrary, it amplifies teacher skills. It may also facilitate the ability for teachers to play to their strongest card:
- Teachers who are great instructors can create lessons that may be seen by thousands or millions, and, like a text-book, be reused year after year.
- Teachers who are great coaches can invite to their classrooms, via the web, and without cost, the perfect instructor to ignite interest in a topic or to meet a specific child's needs.

We also heard that the deepest desire of many teachers is not to prepare their students for an annual standardized test, but to inspire them to become life-long learners.

And so, our vision gained clarity. TED should invite great teachers to help us create a new video collection, made up of short, memorable lessons. We should not try to recreate what Salman Khan of the Khan Academy and others are doing so brilliantly, namely to meticulously build up entire curricula on video. No. TED is known for its ability to evoke curiosity, wonder, and mind-shifting insight.  That should be our prime goal here. Short lessons that spark curiosity. That deliver memorable "aha" moments. That make learning thrilling. If we contribute just one iota to doing that, it would be a worthwhile project. 

We pictured grouping videos into series with intriguing titles that would allow them to be relevant to multiple subject areas. "Inventions that Shaped History." "Questions No One Knows the Answer to."  "Playing with Words." 

But how to populate them? Our strategy at TED on all projects we take on has become one of "radical openness". Any internal skills we have are vastly outweighed by people externally, and so we should simply seek to empower them. (See TED Open TranslationTEDx, etc.)

So that's what today's TED-Ed launch is. An invitation to teachers across the world to help us dial up the effectiveness of video lessons. As an initial offering, we have posted a dozen lessons that we think show promise. And now we're ready to assist teachers in creating hundreds more.

Most of the examples in our launch collection rely on animation to amplify the educator's words. We think this works. One way to think of the potential of animation is to ask: what could a teacher do if you gave her or him a magic blackboard -- one which could display literally anything that would assist in an explanation (and in holding the attention of the class)?  Would that help ignite understanding and excitement? We think the answer is Yes. Check out, for example, Mark Honigsbaum's talk on pandemics. 

And even in cases where a talk is recorded live on stage, it's possible to use animation to add a whole new layer of wonder. Take a peak at this TED-Ed talk by David Gallo, for example.

Greg Gage's cockroach beatbox and Jason Munshi-South's talk on animal evolution in New York City are further terrific examples of this technique.

At TED-Ed we have hired a lean, mean team of talented animators and producers who are now standing by to turn teachers' best lessons into memorable films. We are also reaching out to animators worldwide who wish to offer their services in this regard. The pairing of great teachers and animators offers amazing potential for spreading knowledge in the YouTube era.

As well as our in-house team, we have signed a contract with Cognitive Media, the groundbreaking animation team (led by Andrew Park) who are behind the wonderful RSA Animate talks. I wanted to experiment with them on how to do short videos specifically designed to catalyze curiosity.  So (tapping into my boyhood obsession with Physics) I tried writing a couple of scripts, and Cognitive developed a wonderful new style of animation to turn them into a short series called. "Questions No One Knows the Answer To."  Here's the brief intro.

As you can see, Cognitive's work is truly brilliant and they are now ready to animate lessons (or more questions-no-one-knows-the-answer-to) from real teachers! (Nominate one here.)

A further massive impetus to our launch came in our partnership with YouTube. They offered us significant financial help to accelerate our production plans, so that we are now looking to build this new archive into more than 300 videos within the first year.  YouTube have also done  a really smart thing to get round the fact that many schools block their content.  They've created a special YouTube For Schools program (which we are part of) that schools are now white-listing. They've also been great in working out with us limited commercial intrusion, including, importantly no pre-roll ads, and no advertisers inappropriate for children. In fact a teacher should be able to show these films in school without showing any ads at all. By launching initially on YouTube, we are giving these new videos their best possible chance to shine and attract an audience. 


This is the first part of a two-part launch. The second part comes next month when we open up a new section of ted.com devoted to TED-Ed and offer some powerful new tools to teachers.  But for now, I would love you to watch some of the initial sample of videos, ponder the opportunity TED may have to contribute to education, and give your feedback and insight in the comment section below. And, most important of all: if you know a great teacher or animator,  please send them to TED-Ed.  We would love to hear from them, or from you!

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Chris Anderson
tag:tedchris.posthaven.com,2013:Post/169326 2011-12-03T17:27:00Z 2013-10-08T15:57:17Z TED Goes to Jail

Seems like I learn something great or hear something great from a TEDx organizer every single day. This morning I was forwarded an email from  Antonella Broglia, organizer of TEDxMadrid.   Here it is...

On Dec 3, 2011, at 9:19 AM, Antonella Broglia wrote:

Dear friends, 
This morning I have been talking about TED to a group of inmates at Soto del Real Prison, near Madrid. A huge institution.
They have no access to the internet, so I brought a selection of historical and new talks with me in a CD.
They were amazed by the ideas, and we then engaged in a great debate about the power of ideas to free ourselves, and the power of video to educate people no matter if they are rich or poor.
While I will be sending  new talks to them,  I will be back in march to explain what I will have learned at TEDActive 2012.
And I will also teach them to prepare their TED Talk - style  speech about the story of their lives.
After the meeting, they called their families and talked to them about TED.
And that was the most incredible part.
It was such a great morning.

Antonella Broglia
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Chris Anderson
tag:tedchris.posthaven.com,2013:Post/169329 2011-06-29T12:23:00Z 2013-10-08T15:57:17Z Email Charter Feedback
Please use this space to add your comments on the Email Charter, launched today.  It's linked to the main Charter site so your comments will be seen by many people. Do you share a sense of rising email stress? Does the Charter make sense to you?  If you have suggestions for edits or changes, please make them -- we may be able to use them in a future update.

One thing's clear. The Charter has struck a chord. 50,000 people read the draft and hundreds offered comments, or tweets.  We incorporated as much feedback as we could in the final version.  Thank you to the many contributors. The main changes were:
- to shorten it to just 10 rules
- to keep it focused on the core idea of protecting the time of email recipients

One area of controversy was around acronyms. Some people hate them. In general we agree, but we did decide, based on other responses, that two acronyms were worth wide adoption because of their ability to save recipient time (see rule 8).

Finally, just to be clear: I don't hate email. I love it. Numerous relationships and ideas have been nurtured because of it.  It has brought laughter, excitement, productivity and insight. What I hate is being owned by email. Even if each individual message is a delight, their accumulation at some point becomes too much. Yet none of us wants to let people down. That's why this can't be solved by any of us acting alone. It needs a general recognition of the problem, and a gentle shift in our expectations of each other. Here's hoping the Charter can help do that.

If you agree, please spread the word!
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Chris Anderson
tag:tedchris.posthaven.com,2013:Post/169333 2011-06-09T19:49:00Z 2016-10-07T09:41:05Z Help Create an Email Charter!
Houston, we have a problem.

We all love the power of email connecting people across continents. But... we're drowning in it.

Every year it gets a little worse. To the point where we can get trapped spending most of our working week simply handling the contents of our in-boxes. 

And in doing so, we're making the problem worse.  Every reply, every cc, creates new work for our friends and colleagues.  

We need to figure out a better way. 

But how?

Here is the key cause of this problem:

The total time taken to respond to an email is often MORE than the time it took to create it.    

Because even though it's quicker to read than to write, five other factors outweigh this:
- Emails often contain challenging, open-ended questions that can't rapidly be responded to
 - It's really easy to copy and paste extra text into emails. (Email creation time is almost the same. Reading time soars.)
- It's really easy to add links to other pages, or video (each capable of consuming copious gobbets of time)
- It's really easy to cc multiple people
- The act of processing an email consists of more than just reading.  There is a) scanning an in-box, b) deciding which ones to open, c) opening them, d) reading them e) deciding how to respond  f) responding  g) getting back into the flow of your other work.  
So the arrival of even a two-sentence email that is simply opened, read and deleted can take a minimum of 30-60 seconds out of your available cognitive time.  
This means that every hour someone spends writing and sending email, may well be extracting more than an hour of the world's available attention -- and generating a further hour or more of new email. That is not good.

It is in fact a potent 'tragedy of the commons'.  The commons in question here is the world's pool of attention.  Email makes it just a little too easy to grab a piece of that attention. The unintended consequence of all those little acts of grabbing is a giant rats nest of voracious demands on our time, energy and sanity.

To fix a 'commons' problem, a community needs to come together and agree new rules.  That's why it's time for an Email Charter. One that can reverse the escalating spiral of obligation and stress.

I have reserved the url emailcharter.org for the finished product.  [Update, June 29. The Charter is live!]  But first let's figure out what the charter should be. Let's do this as a crowd.  It's a shared problem. Let's come up with a shared solution. It will only work if lots of people agree to it.

The Charter must focus on reversing the underlying cause. We need a world where it is much quicker to process email than to create it. Bearing that in mind. Here are some candidate rules for an Email Charter.  (And btw, much of this applies equally to other online messaging, such as Facebook.)

1. Respect Recipients' Time
This is the fundamental rule. As the message sender, the onus is on YOU to minimize the time your email gobbles at the other end -- even if it means taking more time at your end before sending. 

2. Be Easy to Process
This means:  crisp sentences, unambiguous questions, keep it short. If the email absolutely has to be longer than 100 words, make sure the first sentence is clear about the basic reason for writing. 

3. Choose Clear Subject Lines. 
Here are some that don't work:
Subject: Re: re: re: re    
Subject:
Subject: Hello from me!
Subject: next week....
Subject: MY AMAZING NEW SHOW starts next week at the Vctory Theater at 113-86 Broad Lane, every night 8 PM 6/7--7/12
    Here are some that do:
Subject: TED Partnership Proposal
Subject: Rescheduling today's dinner with Sarah G.
Subject: Noon meeting cancelled (eom). 
EOM means 'end of message.'  It's a fine gift to your recipient. They don't have to spend the time actually opening the message. 

4. Short Does Not Mean Rude!
Let's mutually agree that it's OK for emails -- and replies -- to be really short. They don't have to include the usual social niceties,  though the occasional emoticon is no bad thing ;-) . No one wants to come over as brusque, so don't take it that way.  We just want our lives back!

5. Slow Does Not Mean Uncaring!
Let's also agree that it's OK if someone doesn't respond quickly, or ever. I's not that they don't love you. They may just not want to be owned by their in-box. Avoid sending chasing emails, unless you're desperate. It's only exacerbating the problem. 

6. Abhor Open-Ended Questions
It's really mean to send someone an email with four long paragraphs of turgid text followed by "Thoughts?".  It's generous to figure out how you can offer people simple yes/no questions - or multiple choice! "When you have a moment could you let me know if you're A) firmly in favor, B) mildly in favor C) against or D) no opinion. Thanks!" 

7. Cut Gratuitous Responses
You don't need to reply to every email.  If I say "Thanks for your note. I'm in."  You don't have to reply "Great."  That just cost me another 30 seconds.  If you must confirm, put it in the subject line with an 'eom'.

8. Think Before you cc:
Cc:'s are like mating bunnies. Like Tribbles from Star Trek. Like spilling a tub of olive oil-coated spaghetti on a well-waxed floor. Like too many metaphors. Most of them are unneccessary, and they are hard to get rid of. The rule should be: for every additional cc, you must increase the time you spend making sure your outgoing email is crisp and that it's clear who needs to respond, if anyone.  And if you reply to an email, take care to ask whether you really need to include everyone cc'ed on the original email.

9. Speak Softly
DO NOT USE ALL CAPS IN THE BODY OF YOUR EMAIL. It's rather like screaming at someone. And they're hard to read - as are most unusual fonts and colors. Simple sans serif fonts like Arial, Helvetica, Verdana work best. If you want to add some zing to your emails, design a personalized signature tag.

10. Attack Attachments.
Don't use them unless they're critical. Some people have all kinds of graphics files as logos or signatures that appear as attachments at the receiver. Not cool. Time is wasted trying to see if there's something to open. Even worse is sending text as an attachment when it could just as easily have been included in the body of the email and saved that extra click-and-wait. 
If you send an invite to an event, it's fine to include an attachment that announces it  visually. But: 
- If there is a URL, include it in text form so it shows up as a clickable link. Or make the whole image itself a clickable link. Not fair to expect someone to retype a url !
- Please include the location, date and time in text format so that the information can be quickly copied and pasted. That way it can quickly be added to a calendar.  (And error free. You don't want "The Knickerbocker Club, 7:30 PM, black-tie required" to morph into
"The Kickboxer Club, 7:30 AM, black-belt required".)

11. Make it easy to unsubscribe
If you send out email newsletters, please make it easy to stop the flow. Letters that prompt rage are not helping your brand!

12. Think about the thread
Some e-mails depend for their meaning on context. Which means it's usually right to include the thread which they're responding to.  But it's rare that a thread should extend to more than 3 emails. Before sending, cut the crap! 

13. Don't reply when angry
Just walk away from the computer. Stamp your feet. Scream out the window. Do not send an email until your emotions have calmed. One rude, jerky email can tar you for life... and spark an even worse response.

14. Use NNTR
"No need to respond."  Use it in a subject line, right before EOM.  Or use it at the end of an email.  What a gift to your recipient!

15. Pay a voluntary email tax
The reason email is escalating is because it's free. No one wants to change that... but what if at the end of each month, you quickly totted up how many emails you had sent, multiply by the average number of cc's, and pay that number of cents into a personal book-buying account.  You'll end up with a lot of great books... and it might just pull you away from the goddam computer for a bit!  Speaking of which...

16. Switch off the computer!
This could be the most important rule of all. If we all agreed to spend less time doing email, we'd all get less email!  Consider... calendaring half-days at work where you refuse to look at email. Consider... email-free weekends.  Consider... setting up the following auto-response. "Thank you for your note.  As a personal commitment to my and my family's mental health, I now do email only on Wednesdays. I'll reply to as many as I can next Wednesday. Thanks for writing. Don't forget to smell the roses."

Now it's over to you. Which of these do you like? Which do you hate? Which need amending? And what new and better rules can you come up with?  We'll be monitoring the response carefully and will use the best of it to create the final charter.  That will be something we hope people will link to in their email signatures.   And maybe one day we'll all get to live a little better, and write a little less !
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Chris Anderson
tag:tedchris.posthaven.com,2013:Post/169334 2011-05-30T12:35:00Z 2013-10-08T15:57:17Z A speech to Harvard's architects of the future

I was invited to address the 2011 graduating class of architects from the Harvard Graduate School of Design last week. Some of them wrote me over the weekend asking to put the talk up online.  So here it is....

First of all, I'm not sure if your organizers today were aware of this, but I actually don't give a lot of speeches. I'm usually the guy doing the inviting. Frankly, it's a lot more comfortable that way. But... I couldn't pass up the chance to spend some time with a group of people who have so much to offer the world. Truly, it's an honor to be here.

To begin with, a favor. If you are one of the graduating class, I would like you please to stand up. I want to see you properly. Thank you. Congratulations. You made it. And if you would, I would like you to hold your heads very still for just the next 10 seconds or so. Because I  have an app on my ipad here that's pretty cool. I'm not taking your picture. What I'm doing, if you don't mind, is just grabbing a download of the contents of each of your brains. Thank you. You may sit.

Now unfortunately, this app is still in, let's say, pre-alpha mode. It doesn't work that reliably. But if it did, I wonder what a read out would reveal. Of course today there would be all manner of emotions around the years you've spent here and the prospects ahead. Excitement, nostalgia, hope...  regret, panic. We'd no doubt uncover a few unexpected jealousies, embarrassing memories, a complete record of everything that happened late at night over there in the trays.  (Don't worry, it's all 100% privacy protected, unless you forgot to check the box marked no public humiliation.) But along with all that, there would be something else in this data. We would be able to see an astonishing picture of...  the future. Better than any crystal ball, or forecasting tool, we could see what our world will look like in a couple decades' time.   

Now I mean this quite literally and seriously. By getting this far in this place, you, the Harvard Graduate School of Design class of 2011, have proved that you possess a certain, incredible talent. It's a talent that is unique to our species. And if you were to rank this talent among members of our species in general, I have no doubt you would all be in the top 1% of 1%. I'm not talking about intelligence, fine breeding, good looks, dress sense, or compelling social skills. (Though I have no doubt you excel there too.)  I am talking about the talent which some would call...   imagination or invention or innovation. It is the remarkable ability first of all to model some aspect of the external world inside our heads... and secondly to play with that mental model until suddenly... bingo... you find a a way to rearrange it so that it's actually better. This is the amazing engine that underpins both technology the T of TED, and Design the D of TED. It is this skill that has made possible the human progress of the last 50,000 years.

It's really astonishing that we can do this. For almost the entire period of life on earth, the appearance of design has been driven differently. By random trial and error. Like a drunkard lumbering through a dark maze of passages, life has lurched its way forward. For every evolutionary step forward there have been countless dead ends. In a single lifetime, change was not detectable. It happened slowly, painfully over millions of years. Somehow in our species the light came on. We actually found a way to model the future before lumbering into it. That... changed... everything.

Viewed from a different perspective, you could say our brains became the ecosystems for a new kind of life, a life that replicated and transformed itself at a rate hitherto unknown in our corner of the universe. The thrilling life of the world of ideas. TED is devoted to nurturing this life form. And in a sense, you're about to devote the rest of your life to that same mission. But whereas we at TED nurture ideas by putting free talks up on the Internet, you will be not just dreaming them but turning them into reality so that thousands or millions of other people will be impacted by them.

And that is why I'm so excited by this group brain scan I'm holding here in my hand. It's the future right here.

Wait I think I can make out something, albeit it's a little fuzzy. Espoused in a mind over here, I think I can just about make out... a gorgeous building, full of natural light whose bio-inspired curves evoke wonder and delight in everyone who sees it. Over there I can see a once barren industrial wasteland converted into a glorious city park where people gather, mill, walk, play and dream. And emanating from a mind on this side...  oh wow. Here is a spectacular city of the future. One in which cars are replaced by intelligent, next-generation  transport systems, and human-scale meeting places where people naturally mingle and connect.  A city which breathes and adjusts and interacts with its citizens like a living system.

When you sum up all the visions contained in this room right now I have to tell you, the future looks pretty enticing. And the most thrilling part? A significant proportion of those dreams will within the next decade or two become real. Why? because you will make it so. You are the 2011 graduate class of the GSD. Like few other people on earth, you have the skills and the  resources to truly change the world.

But here's the rub. What will determine which of the dreams here present today see the light of day, and which will languish unfunded, forgotten, ignored?

Well, usually a single person can't make a big idea come true (unless they have extremely rich parents). In almost every case an idea needs multiple backers. So it must first spread from one brain to many, spreading excitement as it goes. So what makes THAT happen? It certainly helps if the idea itself is powerful. By which I mean some combination of beautiful, ingenious, and... affordable. But there's something else.  It needs to be communicated with power. One of the most tragic things in the world is a powerful idea stuck inside the head of someone who can't actually explain it to anyone else. At TED over the years, we've had a lot of architects come and share their visions with us, and a good number of them have been absolutely... awful.  How can that be? They have the most compelling subject matter imaginable. Giant designs at a scale that impacts thousands or millions of people... Yet when it come to articulating them, they descend into gibberish - the abstract, over-intellectual language of architectural criticism that makes an audience's eyes glaze over and their brains numb. This is an utter tragedy!  Whatever else you do in the coming years of your life, I beg you, I truly beg you to find a way of sharing your dreams in a way that truly reveals the excitement and passion and possibility behind them.

The good news here is that you're entering the profession at a wonderful moment. I speak as an outsider, but it seems to me that three giant trends are combining to transform both the role of architecture -- and  how it can be talked about. First of all, in recent years a mode of thought that has dominated intellectual life for much of the past century is gradually being laid to rest. I'm referring to the toxic belief that human nature and aesthetic values are infinitely malleable, and determined purely by cultural norms. For a while this gave a generation of architects exhilarating freedom to abandon all traditional architectural rules, and impose their own vision on society. But, like similar experiments in music, art, drama, and literature, they didn't always win the world's love.

Today there's a growing consensus that we should think of humans differently. That far from living in separate cultural bubbles we actually share millions of years of evolutionary history. That there are far far more ways that we're the same than that we're different. The anthropologist Donald Brown has documented more than 200 human universals present in every culture on earth. They ranged from things like body adornment, feasting, dancing to common facial expressions and, yes, shared aesthetic values. This latter question has been the subject of countless experiments around the world in the past couple decades, and they've mostly revealed an amazing degree of resonance among vastly different people on what they find...  beautiful.

This shift is surely allowing us to change the language in which architecture is discussed. In a world of pure cultural relativism, there are no absolutes to appeal to. To succeed you had to learn the opaque language of a tight-knit clique of critics and opinion formers. It didn't matter if the rest of the world was left scratching its head. Today, slowly, gingerly, it's become possible once again to use language the rest of us can understand. I think it's even OK to use that B word again. Beauty. Not as a proxy for arrogant artistic self-expression, but as a quest to tap into something that can resonate deeply in millions of souls around the world.  I'm happy to report that in the last couple years at TED  we've been wowed by a new generation of architects  Joshua Prince-Ramus,  Bjarke Ingels, Liz Diller, Thomas Heatherwick and others, as they've shared with us - in plain English -  their passion, their dreams, and yes, the beauty of what they're created. When Thomas Heatherwick shared his vision for a stunning, new residential complex in Kuala Lumpur, curved out from narrow bases like a bed of tulips, I had just one thought.  I wish I had been born in the future.

I suppose an architect might have dreamt of such a development 30 years ago... but it could never have been built. And that brings us to the second trend. Technology is changing the rules of what's possible. The astounding power of computer-assisted design and new construction techniques are giving us the ability to actually build what before could only have been a whimsical doodle on a sketch-pad..  Suddenly the fractals and curves of Mother Nature, are a legitimate part of the architectural lexicon. And around the world, as people watch these new buildings arise, instead of muttering "monstrosity", their jaws are dropping, their eyes moistening.

And finally, perhaps most important of all, we're at a moment in history where the world is paying attention to you like never before. As leading designers of scale, you, more than anyone else, hold in your hands the answers to the most important question we all face. Namely this. Can the coming world of 10 billion people survive and flourish without consuming itself in the process. The answers if they are to be found, - and I think they will - will come from... design. Better ways to pattern our lives. There is nothing written into our nature that says that the only path to a wonderful, rich, meaningful life is to own two cars and a McMansion in the suburbs.

But it's becoming urgent for the world to start to see a compelling alternative vision. Probably it's going to come down to re-imagining what a city can be, and making it so wonderful, that few people would want to live anywhere else. If there are to be 10 billion of us, we will have to, for the most part, live close to each other -- if only to give the rest of nature a chance. Indeed more than half the world already lives in cities and the best of them offer so much to the world : richer culture, a greater sense of community, a far lower carbon footprint per person - and  the collision of ideas that nurtures innovation.  And the future cities you will help create need not feel claustrophobic or soulless. By sculpting beautiful new forms into the city's structures and landscapes; by incorporating light, plants, trees, water; by imagining new ways to connect with each other and work with each other, you will allow the coming crowd to live more richly, more meaningfully, than has ever been possible in history - and to do so without sacrificing your grandchildren.  

Now finally, I guess it's traditional at a time like this to offer some personal advice to you as you embark on your career. Everything from "one word: plastics".  to... "follow your dream, pursue your passion". Indeed the mantra of romantically pursuing passion is hammered into us by countless movies, novels and pulp TV. I'm not convinced it is very good advice. Apart from the fact that many people aren't sure what their passion is, even if they were, there are lots of wonderful things in life that absolutely should not be pursued directly. Take love. We all want it. But there's a word for people who pursue love a little too directly. Stalker. Or take happiness. Go after that wholeheartedly and most likely you'll end up a hedonist, a narcissist, an addict.  A great musician who wants to pursue the absolute in artistic creativity doesn't get there by being creative. She gets there by being disciplined. By learning, listening and by practicing for hours... until one day the creativity just flows of its own accord.

The architect Moshe Safdie ended his TED talk a few years with this poem.

    He who seeks truth shall find beauty. He who seeks beauty shall find vanity. 
    He who seeks order, shall find gratification. He who seeks gratification, shall be disappointed. 
    He who considers himself the servant of his fellow beings shall find the joy of self-expression. He who seeks self-expression, shall fall into the pit of arrogance. 
    Arrogance is incompatible with nature. Through nature, the nature of the universe and the nature of man, we shall seek truth.  
    If we seek truth, we shall find beauty.

So I guess my advice would be... Don't pursue your passion directly. At least not yet. Instead... pursue the things that will empower you. Pursue knowledge. Be relentlessly curious. Listen, learn. You're leaving Harvard this week, but your learning cannot ever, ever be allowed to stop.

Pursue discipline. It's an old-fashioned word, but it's never been more important.Today's world is full of an impossible number of distractions. The world-changers are those who find a way of ignoring most of them.

And above all: Pursue generosity. Not just because it will add meaning to your life -- though it will do that -- but because your future is going to be built on great ideas and in the future you are entering, great ideas HAVE to be given away. They do. The world is more interconnected than ever. The rules of what you give and what you hold on to have changed forever. If you hold on to your best ideas, maybe you can for a moment grab some short-term personal commercial gain. But if you let them roam free, they can spread like wildfire, earning you a global reputation. They can be reshaped and improved by others. They can achieve impact and influence in the world far greater than if you were to champion them alone. If we've discovered anything at TED these past few years, it's that radical openness pays. We gave away our talks on the web, and far from killing demand for the conference, it massively increased it, turning TED from something which reached 800 people once a year to something which reached half a million people every day. We gave away our brand in the form of TEDx, and far from diluting TED, it democratized it, and multiplied its footprint a thousand fold.

Knowledge, discipline, generosity. If you pursue those with all the determination you possess, one day before too long, without your even knowing it, the chance to realize your most spectacular dreams will come gently tap you on the shoulder and whisper... "Let's go!".  And you'll be ready.

And that is how you're going to help shape a better future for all of us.

No pressure or anything, but we're counting on you.

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Chris Anderson
tag:tedchris.posthaven.com,2013:Post/169335 2011-04-06T22:26:00Z 2013-10-08T15:57:17Z Ai Weiwei: watching, waiting, hoping....

Amidst continuing concern about the detention of Chinese Artist Ai Weiwei, I received this note today from Professor Jerry Cohen, an expert in international law who heads a Council of Foreign Relations initiative on human rights.  He gave me permission to blog it. 

* * *

A Background Note on Ai Weiwei's Situation


There seems to be silence about the case while the police undoubtedly go through the over 100 items seized in the search of his home/studio and interrogate the aide who reportedly was detained and retained with him after the other assistants and wife were released. Going through his computer data and following up on leads may take some time. Although the Criminal Procedure Law (CPL) in most cases gives the police only three days to hold someone before deciding whether to release him or apply to the prosecutors for an arrest warrant, exceptions allow them up to seven days and in very limited circumstances up to thirty days. Invariably the police turn the exceptions into a thirty-day rule, so nothing may be heard from them or Weiwei for a month. The prosecutors have seven days to decide whether to approve the arrest request, and usually do approve arrest and continuing detention. Approval of arrest usually guarantees later indictment, conviction and punishment, usually prison time.

It's possible because of Weiwei's family and personal connections and outside pressures that he may be released soon. What is worrisome is that his detention was not a spontaneous response to Weiwei's well-known in-your-face lecturing of police for their abuses but a carefully thought out plan to at least keep him in the country and perhaps keep him in criminal detention, not mere house arrest. They may have chosen an intermediate course of taking him, initially, not to a regular detention house but to a "safe house", where he is just as effectively isolated but kept in better conditions than an ordinary cell.

The formal search and seizure of his home/studio suggests that the police may have in mind a conventional criminal prosecution rather than the informal detention and quick release after some hours or days of intimidation in their custody that they frequently practice in their early days of deterring dissidents. Yet no detention notice has been received by his family and none may be since, again, there is an exception in the CPL that releases police from giving required notice of detention if to do so might interfere with their investigation. Without a detention notice, we do not know what the suspected charge might be, where he is located and who is holding him. We believe, from the search and search warrant, that the National Security Division of the Beijing Public Security Bureau (the regular police) is the authority in charge rather than the Beijing State Security Bureau (the KGB of China, responsible for international-related matters).

Without a detention notice it is sometimes difficult for a defense lawyer to enter the case, which is a reason why police sometimes use the excuse of "interference with the investigation" to fail to send a detention notice. Weiwei reportedly has the well-known and dynamic lawyer PU Zhiqiang as his lawyer. What Pu has been able to accomplish so far is unclear. The recently-amended Lawyers Law gives the detainee's counsel the right to see him, albeit in monitored circumstances and for a limited time and with limited scope of discussion. BUT the CPL gives the investigators the right to deny access to the detainees in cases they claim involve "state secrets".  So there is an unresolved legislative clash and we are waiting for the next amendments to the CPL, due soon, to resolve the clash. Pu cannot do much else to combat the police actions at this time.

Jerome Cohen


* * *

Since the above was written, the state news agency came out with a brief statement saying Ai Weiwei was being investigated for economic crimes.  Meanwhile here is the courageous video he shared at TED last month. 

 

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Chris Anderson
tag:tedchris.posthaven.com,2013:Post/169256 2011-01-19T22:47:00Z 2013-10-08T15:57:16Z When Great Trees Fall

My friend Andy Hobsbawm sent me this gorgeous Maya Angelou poem today in memory of  Zoe. Worked for me... thought I'd share it.

 When great trees fall,
rocks on distant hills shudder,
lions hunker down
in tall grasses,
and even elephants
lumber after safety.

When great trees fall
in forests,
small things recoil into silence,
their senses
eroded beyond fear.

When great souls die,
the air around us becomes
light, rare, sterile.
We breathe, briefly.
Our eyes, briefly,
see with
a hurtful clarity.
Our memory, suddenly sharpened,
examines,
gnaws on kind words
unsaid,
promised walks
never taken.

Great souls die and
our reality, bound to
them, takes leave of us.
Our souls,
dependent upon their
nurture,
now shrink, wizened.
Our minds, formed
and informed by their
radiance,
fall away.
We are not so much maddened
as reduced to the unutterable ignorance
of dark, cold
caves.

And when great souls die,
after a period peace blooms,
slowly and always
irregularly.  Spaces fill
with a kind of
soothing electric vibration.
Our senses, restored, never
to be the same, whisper to us.
They existed.  They existed.
We can be.  Be and be
better.  For they existed.

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Chris Anderson
tag:tedchris.posthaven.com,2013:Post/169263 2011-01-11T16:11:00Z 2016-05-26T08:06:24Z My dazzling Zoe: Snapshots of a life cut short
"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

Zoe Clare Anderson, 1986-2010

Two weeks ago today, riding a ski-lift on a glorious clear day  in Whistler, I got the impossible phone-call. Zoe, my beautiful, larger-than-life 24-year-old daughter had been found dead at our home in Bath, England.   At the time, it looked liked she'd slipped and fallen in the shower. It now emerges she collapsed from carbon monoxide poisoning, whose cause is still being investigated.

On Saturday we gathered in England with friends and family from all around the world to celebrate an extraordinary life.  Amidst the terrifying grief, some light began to shine through as we marveled at the ways her life had touched so many people, and dreamed of how we might best honor her memory.   At some point, I'll try to write something about that part. But for now, just the pictures.

1986... a tiny package of joy held close.


 

No opportunity to feed left unexploited.

 
Take my picture, if you dare.

 

That haircut. What were we thinking?!

 
I am SO much cooler than my baby sister.

 
Flute? Violin? No way. Give me something loud!

 
A penny for your thoughts, my dear....

 
Zoe and I learned to snowboard during an unforgettable week in Whistler in 2001

 

 
...and went scuba diving together most recently off Zanzibar, 2006

 
 
Er, I meant to mention, Dad,  I installed some new jewelry during my gap year. Do you like it? 

 
The world's coolest, funniest, most wonderful friends...

 
...esp her amazing boyfriend Ali

 
Her camera came with her EVERYWHERE

 
 
The child-whisperer. She had unbelievable connection with kids.

 

 
At my marriage to Jacqueline Novogratz in 2008, guess who 'gave me away'?

 
 
Celebrating an MSc in neuroscience with distinction from Kings College, London in 2009.

 
Portrait, 2010.

Possibly the world's sparkliest TED fan

 
A happy week last summer at the World Cup.

 
She loved family (here with her cousin and grandmother in October)

 
Croquet demon!

 
A lane near Castle Combe, England a few months ago.

 
Christmas 2010 was "the happiest ever".

We've set up a memorial page for Zoe. We want to protect a piece of coral reef in her name.  "Zoe" means life. She was a scuba dive-master and passionate oceans advocate. She would have absolutely loved to see a beautiful ecosystem sustained by the people who loved her. And it's been amazing to see the loving comments and support pouring in. 

There's a memorial on Facebook here with many more photos and beautiful tributes. 

Finally, heartfelt thanks to so many friends who surrounded us with their love this past couple weeks. It's meant the world.  Last month, Zoe was watching the TEDWomen conference over the web. Jacqueline gave an incredible talk, and Zoe tweeted one sentence from it. It was this:

Her life was indeed far too short. But the incandescent flame that is Zoe will be there forever, sparkling, beautiful, and inspiring many to live better and love better.

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Chris Anderson
tag:tedchris.posthaven.com,2013:Post/169271 2010-12-22T15:55:00Z 2013-10-08T15:57:16Z A teary antidote to holiday shopping...
So, I was just sitting there this morning, thinking of a couple of outstanding presents I had to buy, and stressing about my email backlog, when WPP's creative director John O'Keeffe sent me this link to an ad that won their internal Creme de la Creme award.  It was in response to our Ads Worth Spreading initiative.  I clicked, gaped, shed a tear, marveled at the ingenious twist, and now here I am sharing it. So I guess that makes it an ad worth spreading.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and here's to a beautiful 2011.

- Chris

P.S. I also loved the ad links everyone sent me yesterday on Twitter.  Lots of laughs.  eg. this one.  And gasps.
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Chris Anderson
tag:tedchris.posthaven.com,2013:Post/169276 2010-09-15T18:12:00Z 2013-10-08T15:57:16Z Please trash this TED talk !

UPDATE: WINNERS NAMED, see below!

Earlier this year I got seized by an idea that wouldn't let go. It turned into a TED talk, just posted.

http://www.ted.com/talks/chris_anderson_how_web_video_powers_global_innovation.html
The talk's been well-received... but nonetheless I want you to tear it to pieces.  That's because it's about crowd-accelerated innovation, meaning you-the-crowd are capable of taking an idea and making it way better. So let's test that theory.
Pick holes in my logic!
Give better examples than I could find!
Name the passages which are confusing or obvious!
Suggest how I could use this thinking to improve TED.com!

If, as I argue, web video has the potential to launch the biggest learning cycle in human history, we're going to need the smartest approach possible. So please, watch the talk, and if it sparks anything in your brain, share it by posting a comment below, so that it can spark the rest of us. 

I'll read every comment.  And I'll mail the best book I've read this year to those who submit the 3 most powerful contributions. 

The Prezi I used for the talk is here.  And there's a link to an interactive transcript of the talk at the top right of the TED talk-page.

UPDATE Oct 28, 2010. Here are the contributors who I've judged as 'winners'.  I ended up with six, all of whom I'll send Matt Ridley's book (if you're one of the six, please email me chris@ted.com with your physical address).  I'm thrilled with the effort put into all the responses. Really helpful. Many others could have won if there had been fewer responses. Thanks to all!

Benita Parker - for the "pitch of your life" concept
Sbijlstra - for suggestions on identifying credible contributors
John Warren - for valuable free tips from a speaking coach!
Ramla Akhtar  - for responding in video.
Joerasmussen - for his thoughtful comments on zealots vs vandals
George Por  - mainly for his second 'practical idea'

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Chris Anderson
tag:tedchris.posthaven.com,2013:Post/169279 2010-09-13T22:14:00Z 2013-10-08T15:57:16Z Humanity amidst the horror. an unforgettable video

When Jacqueline Novogratz and I returned last week from our visit to Pakistan's flood hit areas, we couldn't get out of our heads the faces of the people we'd seen -- in equal measures beautiful... haunting... hopeless...  hopeful...  These faces are the best possible answer to the insane indifference so much of the world has shown in response to this crisis, which by any objective measure is one of the worst this century.  

We wanted to spread the word about what we'd seen, so we wrote to one of our heroes Peter Gabriel and he generously agreed to let us use an unforgettable song of his as the soundtrack to a video that will show you the people we met.

Every one of these people has lost almost everything they own: their homes, their possessions, their animals...  in most cases, all but the clothes they're wearing.  Please stop what you're doing for 5 minutes, take a deep breath, sit down next to someone you care about, click the full-screen button below the video, and then press play. 


If it's too slow to load, you can do a lower-res version below (but the high-res version is preferable).

If this moved you, please point other people to this video.  And to find out more, including a shortlist of trusted, effective organizations to give to, please visit http:/www.ontheground.pk

Thank you.

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Chris Anderson
tag:tedchris.posthaven.com,2013:Post/169280 2010-09-08T18:39:00Z 2013-10-08T15:57:16Z Pakistan flood story 19: Hope Floats. The Community Rafts of Fizagat, Pakistan

The Karachi chapter of Architecture for Humanity is working on post-flood assessments, in partnership with the Karachi Relief Fund.

On Sunday, September 5th, the team was surveying a potential site at Fizagat, near Saidu Shaif. They were stunned by what they found. A village that has designed their way out of the floods and into economic recovery.

Chapter leader Mahboob Khan explained, "The SWAT riverbed is over 300m wide at this point, with both sides of the river supporting large populations. During our trip we stumbled across an ingenious series of handmade rafts made from tire tubes and bamboo by local villagers. At least 50 of these rafts were seen crossing the water with a number under construction."

Cameron Sinclair, co-founder of Architecture for Humanity has this to say about the rafts: "This 'found' project is a clear example of a local innovation working without international aid and communities working collaboratively to design a better future. For all the talk on 'design for change' it is those who are on the ground and challenged every day that prove once again that creativity is an instinctive trait in the human ability to survive. For those of us who fund projects it is our role to embrace and support this natural instinct and not crush it with the weight of predetermined international response."

For more about this project, more photos, and to learn about the Open Architecture Network (OAN), please click here.


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Chris Anderson
tag:tedchris.posthaven.com,2013:Post/169286 2010-09-06T19:34:00Z 2013-10-08T15:57:16Z Pakistan flood story 18: Sending in Lifesaver jerrycans to tackle the drinking water crisis
  One of the terrible ironies of the floods is that despite all that water, the single biggest need is...  water.  Water that's safe to drink. The flood waters are full of all manner of dirt and microbes, and as they start to subside and stagnate, the risk of infection through water-borne parasites, including cholera, rockets.  At the relief camps we visited, severe diarrhea, especially of babies and children, was the number 1 health problem.

So what to do? Some generous donors have tried to ship in bottled water, but this can't scale. There are up to 20m people displaced.  It's an expensive, short-term solution. A whole truck load would be needed to supply a single camp for a week.

In some areas there is good ground water 50 feet below the surface. Here, a great solution is a simple hand pump.  They're available locally, cost approximately $50, and depending on the terrain, it may be quick and simple to drill down into the water.  Below 40 feet, most parasites have been filtered out. 

But in many areas, the water is harder to get to, and is often foul-tasting, or brackish. On the other hand, there are copious amounts of (dirty) surface water available.  These situations seem to call out for some kind of filter technology.  As Jacqueline and I pondered whether we could help, we remembered the spectacular demo given at TEDGlobal last summer by Michael Pritchard.  He had invented a "Lifesaver" filter which extracted dirt, bacteria, even right down to the smallest viruses.   He filled a tank with disgusting dirty water, added some sewage, then pumped it through his filter and offered me to drink the water. It tasted perfect. (You can view his short talk here.)

The company Michael set up to manufacture his invention is still fairly small, and most of the major relief agencies have not yet had a chance to experiment with it. So we decided to take a chance and see if we could help introduce it to a situation which seemed tailor-made for it. At TED he had demoed a bottle, but the best product for the relief camps seemed to be the larger 5-gallon/20-liter jerrycan.  Each of these cans, if used intensively, can turn 600 liters of muddy flood water every day into pure drinking water.  They can continue up to 15,000 liters each, before the filters need replacing.  A single truckload could deliver the same water capacity as 750 trucks carrying bottled water.  

When we contacted Michael, he too had been trying to figure out how to help in Pakistan. Medecins Sans Frontier had taken some of his Lifesaver jerrycans, but he had 500 still sitting in a warehouse unused.  Jacqueline and I purchased them and donated them to the Pakistani foundation run by the remarkable Ali Siddiqui who arranged a rapid airlift to bring them to Pakistan. He is running logistics operations to many of the 1500 UN relief camps in the country, and believes these will be invaluable in many circumstances.

Here are the jerrycans being packed for the flight...
Distribution of them began yesterday.  Michael himself flew out to oversee training and has been blogging about the experience here.   Here's his picture of the first recipients.

The jerrycans were filled from this water:

In theory, the 500 jerrycans should be able to deliver 7.5m liters of clean water to people who desperately need it. But we're nervous about it. A lot could go wrong.  

What if they're delivered to locations that don't really need them?  What if people, desperate for their families, steal them, or fight over them? (The initial experiment involves chaining several jerrycans together to increase capacity and make stealing harder. Also, careful allocation to camp managers, and to frontline mobile medical units.)   But still, what if they're not properly used?  There are too many examples of well-meaning aid offers that just don't cut it in the real world. Indeed Jacqueline's life's work at Acumen Fund has been devoted to finding solutions that are market-based and sustainable for the long-term.

So part of our rationale for the contribution is: it's a worthwhile experiment.  Some will be used well, and those that aren't we can learn from.  Just possibly there's a business to be built in Pakistan based on this technology where relief agencies are the customers. Already Ali and Michael are talking of the possibility of manufacturing locally to bring price and distribution time way down.

Hopefully at least some will benefit, and if proven effective, future disaster situations will have another powerful tool at their disposal.

Although we're now back in New York after our tour of Pakistan flood areas, we'll be tracking this closely, and will tell you what we learn, for better or worse.  

Meanwhile our huge thanks to Michael for his brilliance and persistence (and generous pricing), and to Ali for taking on the tricky aspect of distribution and oversight.

(Posted by Chris Anderson)
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Chris Anderson
tag:tedchris.posthaven.com,2013:Post/169288 2010-09-06T17:45:00Z 2013-10-08T15:57:17Z Pakistan flood story 17: I Dream of Urooj

This is Urooj. She is nine years old. She was born in the villages of Jacobabad. Her father is a farmer. She has seven brothers and three sisters. She loves playing with babies and is so happy that her mother has given her a baby brother just last week. “I wanted a sister, but brother is okay too.” 

She has the biggest grin on her face as she watches us distribute the food. When an old woman comes knocking on our car window, Urooj is dancing in the background making twirling gestures with her fingers. “She’s crazy”, she mouths to me. “This old woman is crazy, ignore her, ignore her!” She lets out a peal of laughter when the old woman turns and swats at her.

She is a natural leader. Other children crowd around her. They follow her where she goes and sits when she sits. Even the older boys shush when she says shush. “They are excited because of the food,” she explains.

She loves cold cucumbers. When I tell her I will come visit her again, she says with a passion, with such an air of authority, its almost a command: “You must bring me cucumbers.” I really must. She has convinced me of the necessity of cold cucumbers in life.

She is disdainful of the management of her camp. “They say food will come, but it doesn’t. We got food only once yesterday. It wasn’t enough for everybody. What’s the point in lying to us?” I don’t try and explain the magnitude of the crisis to her but I admire her practical tone.

She announces her name to anyone who will listen. I ask her if she knows what it means. She hesitates and I fill in the silence “Rising, ascension, greatness, higher, up in the skies.” I keep adding synonyms and her smile grows wider and wider. She understands it is a powerful name.

When I tell her she is beautiful, she laughs. There is an acquiescent acknowledgement in that laughter. She has heard this before I am sure of it. I am scared she has heard this before. Right before I was leaving for the camp, I saw a news report about girls being abducted from the camps. But right now, this little piece of magic tugs at her lime green tunic and tosses her golden brown hair. I am breathless.

When I ask if I can take her picture, she crosses her arms in front of her, raises her chin proudly and smiles. I take a close up and then turn the digital camera around so she can see it. She frowns. “Take another one.” She steps back a few paces, out of the shadow of the car and into the sunlight. “Now take it.” She is pleased with the second result.

I tell her I must leave now. “Will you come again?” she asks, her smile faltering for the first time. I make promises that I only pray I can keep. She shoos the children back from the car. They have been standing with their noses pressed against the windows. The children run on to the next amusement, but she stays. She stands and she waves and waves and waves as we drive away. She has the biggest grin on her face.

There is something choking my heart. I feel like throwing my head up to the sky and howling. This is a smart, beautiful, interesting, sassy, funny little person. There must be thousands more like her. Will they spend the days of their lives living under two metres of cloth, waiting for food that never comes? In the right place, at the right time, with the right help, this girl could do wonders. Why her? Why me? What is fair, what is not? Is asking that question kufr? What can I do for this girl? Will it make a difference? What is the point of anything? I am angry and I cannot explain why.

I will be grateful for the opportunities and privileges of my life later. For now…I dream of Urooj.

Khuda tujhe Urooj aisa naseeb kare
kay rashk tere naseeb per falak kare
har more per farishtay hon saath tere
har gham par hifazat tairi Khuda kare…

-- This was written by a young woman Hiba, who visited a relief camp.]]>
Chris Anderson
tag:tedchris.posthaven.com,2013:Post/169290 2010-09-06T16:44:00Z 2013-10-08T15:57:17Z Pakistan flood story 16: These babies urgently need your help

Just received this video from Dr Awab Avi, fresh back from a visit to a pediatric ward overwhelmed by flood victims. 

Watch if you dare...

Dr. Awab Alvi takes you through a walk-thru tour of the Pediatric ward at the Civil Hospital Shikarpur to show the deplorable conditions.

The ward looks after only the most severe cases. There are three natal wards with a total of 20 beds, which now hold over 100 children. Some generous donor had air-conditioners installed, making it barely livable. Once you walk out of the rooms, the stench and the heat of the hallway is unimaginable. Toilets down the hall are over-flooding beyond belief.

Team members from OffroadPakistan visited the ward, and desperately want to make a difference. They need help to raise funds and expertise to save the lives of these gentle little kids. Dreaming big, they hope to revamp the entire Civil Hospital in this area, as a long-lasting measure for this impoverished city.

You can donate at SARELIEF.com

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Chris Anderson
tag:tedchris.posthaven.com,2013:Post/169292 2010-09-06T13:55:00Z 2013-10-08T15:57:17Z Pakistan flood story 15: The banker who's spent the last month doing flood relief work

2010-09-02-heroesjpg Across Pakistan, uncommon heroes are arising in response to the worst natural devastation in the country's history. One of them is Ali Siddiqui, head of the JS Group, a financial services conglomerate employing 23,000 with stakes in companies in transportation, agriculture, energy and the like. Though only 33 years old, Ali is a man of vision, courage and great spirit. While too many complain that government isn't providing services, he and his family and employees have just gotten on with the business of bringing their skills and resources to do what they can against the odds -- which is ultimately what it takes to bring about change.

Ali has mobilized the family's companies owned by the JS Group to set up and run five camps serving more than 10,000 displaced individuals and providing food supplies to more than 20,000. He works with the army, the military, the UN and grassroots NGOs, and in this way, has created strong relationships that have allowed the camps to function relatively smoothly. He spends five days a week in southern Punjab and Sindh, problem-solving, troubleshooting and ensuring the steady flow of what has become a major operation. His family has donated significant financial resources, but what amazes me is how they've mobilized others to enable them to give, having raised nearly $1 million for their relief efforts in the camps.

Ali has 15 or 20 of the company's senior people working closely with him on everything from partnerships to logistics to working with the United Nations. Rather than wait for international food rations, his team works through bank offices to identify the best prices at local markets and puts together packages that feed 20,000 people daily. Ali's beautiful wife Saira and brother-in-law (also named Ali) spend considerable time fundraising and giving other types of support.

We visited three of the camps with Ali and a small team, meeting military officers and police who provided us security, speaking with camp residents and listening to the stories of children survivors. We were amazed by the efficiency of operations and the strong relationships among different organizations working together. Mostly, we were humbled by Ali's leadership. Indeed, one of his slightly younger employees, Imran, told me that he was in the camps because Ali inspired him daily to give all he can to the world.

As David Bowie sings, "We can be heroes." Ali Siddiqui and the JS Group are showing the power of the private sector to move quickly, nimbly and efficiently. He is saving lives and changing perceptions of what role business can play in responding to crisis and in building a country that needs to believe in itself. It starts with leadership, and Pakistan -- and the world -- needs more individuals like Ali Siddiqui to show the way.

If you want to donate directly, please give to the Mahvash And Jahangir Siddiqui Foundation, go here.

It's possible to donate to Ali's foundation from anywhere in the world with a credit card or Paypal account - a fantastic way to contribute to flood relief efforts

(Posted by Jacqueline Novogratz)

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Chris Anderson
tag:tedchris.posthaven.com,2013:Post/169295 2010-09-04T12:42:00Z 2013-10-08T15:57:17Z Pakistan flood story 14: Joining the relief efforts

Muneeza Kazi, who lives in Karachi, felt driven to get involved in relief work. She writes about her experience:

"I started by collecting donations from friends, family and contacts. These were added to the relief activities of my employer (a well known International Bank), with the collaboraton of the NGOs Hope and Red Crescent. We collected $25,000 USD and donation-in-kind -- enough to fill up a large container.

We set off on Friday September 3, 2010, taking a truck load of food and relief materials to Thatta District in the Sindh Province.

When we reached the destination, what struck me most was the utter magnitude of the disaster. There were people all over, thousands, some with the luck of having received tents, some without. No facilities for garbage disposal or temporary toilets, and a lack of any organized governmental system of distribution or database for ascertaining who and where is in need of relief.

I saw donation-in-kind arriving. But what was missing were volunteers to help out with the packing and distribution of goods, information on areas in dire need of help, and facilities to reach those areas. Not just food is needed, but things like rubber boats, building material, seeds, fertilizers.

Helping the victims who've been brought into urban relief camps is somewhat easier. But many people have decided not to go to the camps. Finding whatever dry land they can to perch on, they chose to stay closer to what's left of ther homes, belongings and animals. Their fear is that if they're forced to evacuate farther, they'll have to sell their animals at a fraction of their worth.

I realized that it actually requires a real experience to truly feel the gravity of a situation. Watching the plight of the flood victims on TV may arouse a distant sympathy. But when I saw them face-to-face, saw the sick children, watched the naked hunger written in their parched faces, and witnessed fights over food and water, only then did I realize how huge the problem is, and how badly these people need help.

This has only persuaded me to plan another relief trip to the region, this time into the more remote regions to help provide shelter to the victims."

-- Muneeza Kazi, Karachi, Pakistan

* * *

If you have a story from the Pakistan floods, please email it to chris@ted.com (Pakistan floods: the stories we're not being told http://bit.ly/9RI2Jm).

>

Trusted organizations to support listed here: http://bit.ly/9rSCZY

(posted by Jane Wulf)

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Chris Anderson
tag:tedchris.posthaven.com,2013:Post/169297 2010-09-03T18:57:00Z 2013-10-08T15:57:17Z Pakistan flood story 13: In makeshift classrooms, children in flooded Pakistan go to school

Via UNICEF Newsline

Millions of children have been devastated by the disastrous floods in Pakistan. They have lost homes and possessions and have been forced to relocate to temporary accommodations. But the crisis has also brought opportunity. Saima, 10, is going to school for the first time. In just 12 days she has learned how to count and read the alphabet. She has begun to write and is memorizing poems. 

UNICEF Image
© UNICEF Pakistan/2010/Tahira
Flood-affected Saima, 10, lives in a UNICEF-supported camp in the Rahim Yar Khan district of Pakistan's Punjab province.

Temporary schools

Saima lives in Rahim Yar Khan district in Pakistan’s Punjab province, where some 8 million people have been affected by the floods. The district government has established 30 relief camps and 13 tent villages to shelter desperate families.

UNICEF Image
© UNICEF/NYHQ2010-1631/Ramoneda
Children and women sleep in a school in Karachi, Pakistan. The school is one of many that has been turned into a shelter for people displaced by flooding.

Saima’s family came to the camp 10 days ago. The bright-eyed girl is the is the youngest of six children. Her father is hearing impaired and her three brothers used to go to school back in their village. But she was forced to stay home and help her mother because her grandfather refused to allow her to be educated.

More than 12,000 children in the flood-stricken provinces have been given the opportunity to continue education at 73 Temporary Learning and Recreation Centres established with UNICEF’s support.

Officials estimate that 11,000 schools have been destroyed by the floods. More than 6,000 others are being used as shelter for the more than one million people displaced throughout the country. Temporary school structures are helping to ensure that school-aged children among the affected population do not miss out on class until their permanent schools are reconstructed.

Safety and support

UNICEF provides School-in-a-Box and recreational kits with games and sports equipment to facilitate the re-opening of classes. The temporary schools are also supplied with seating mats, blackboards and stationery.

Children are provided a safe and supportive environment while parents work to re-build their lives. In the education centres, girls and boys also get the opportunity to play and learn in a protected environment with caregivers, who assist them in addressing issues such as gender-based violence cope with the effects of the flood.

Saima is just one of thousands of children whose lives have changed forever by this disaster. But UNICEF and its partners are working to ensure that the change is ultimately for the better.

“It’s my lifetime dream coming true,” said Saima about her first time at school. “Please ask my mother to promise that she will let me continue my school when we go back home.”

-- By Tahira Sharafat

Read more about UNICEF's work in Pakistan >>  http://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/pakistan.html

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(posted by Jane Wulf)

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Chris Anderson
tag:tedchris.posthaven.com,2013:Post/169298 2010-09-03T17:10:00Z 2013-10-08T15:57:17Z Pakistan story 12: What's the right design for a relief camp?

Every flood relief camp we've visited has been set up differently, and it's intriguing to speculate how much the design impacts the camp's effectiveness.  Two we visited today appeared to have a dramatically better atmosphere than either the tented villages we saw in Punjab or the school-based camps in Shikarpur and Sukkur.

Was it caused by:
- different tent design?
- different tent layout (circular instead of row after row)?
- existence of a large communal area?
- provision of rations to be cooked, vs cooked food?
- easy access to clean water on demand?
- good latrines at decent distance from the camp?
- toys or other activities for the children?

Or perhaps it was more down to other causes like whether the residents shared common language and tribal loyalties, and whether they had been able to bring with them belongings like mattresses. cooking utensils, spare clothes and their animals.  

I suspect there is no shortage of knowledge on most of these issues, it's just not as widely circulated as it might be, and much of it has to be rediscovered by a new set of local NGOs every time there's a new disaster.  

Here are some rough and ready impressions on two of the camps we visited today.  The first was striking for its design of two groupings of about 50 tents each situated around a large open communal space. It seemed to really work, and even though the residents had arrived just four days earlier, they seemed incredibly well settled in.  One key difference. They had been able to bring their livestock with them, so during the day, the men were fully occupied, taking them to graze. At other camps, with all their livestock gone along with everything else, there was an air of utter despondency.

Rashid Bhajwa, whose remarkable non-profit, the National Rural Support Organization, was running this camp - and dozens of others, told me they'd found that 100 families was a magic number for relief camps, keeping them at human scale. They had happened on the circular design, saw its effectiveness, and had tried to incorporate it whenever space allowed.  Across Pakistan his organization had created camps and food provisions for more than 140,000 displaced people.

Traveling with us was a dynamic Pakistani entrepreneur Adnan Asdar who has built a series of logistics companies, but in times of disaster drops everything to work on relief. In conjunction with another nonprofit the Karachi Relief Trust,  he has been setting up a dozens of camps, bringing in clean water via a series of Life Straw gravity powered filters and creating facilities to provided cooked food for all residents. Here they are in action:

There we also met a dozen student volunteers from Karachi University, assisting in putting up tents and digging latrines.  Small touches like the provision of cricket and soccer equipment add to the sense of an organization going above and beyond.  After the terror of the march away from the inrushing water, these places seemed like extraordinary safe-havens. And although some tents and equipment had been donated from overseas, all the internal logistics were Pakistani-managed. Daunting, but hugely impressive.

Chris Anderson  •  TED Curator  •  www.ted.com  •  "Ideas Worth Spreading"
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Chris Anderson
tag:tedchris.posthaven.com,2013:Post/169300 2010-09-03T16:53:00Z 2013-10-08T15:57:17Z Pakistan flood story 11: A wet ride to a ghost town

We had an unbelievable trip today to the submerged town of Sujawa in Sindh, Pakistan. The floods hit it just four days ago and Its 40,000 residents had 24 hours notice to get out. Even though the waters had since subsided a couple of feet, the road to the town took us through an endless vista of flood waters as far as the eye could see. Here's the start of the trip (1 min).

The road continued past numerous dying animals. We counted five dead dogs, others on their last legs, several buffalo being picked over by crows. A few farmers had stuck stubbornly with their properties. Several were very visibly armed against intruders. Others had unrolled fishing nets and were successfully pulling in small fish -- from terrain that less than a week ago was miles from the river. Sujawa itself was still largely under water, and we couldn't enter more than 30 feet or so by vehicle. Apart from a handful of adventurous souls exploring a possible return, it was completely deserted, its residents in the relief camps or making do in makeshift shelters along the highway. Not a single fatality was reported in the evacuation... but the destruction of property and business in the whole area beggared belief... and this is just one tiny part of the flood zone.

 

Chris Anderson  •  TED Curator  •  www.ted.com  •  "Ideas Worth Spreading"
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Chris Anderson