TED talks

Procrastination is thinking

“You call it procrastinating, I call it thinking.”

Aaron Sorkin

“Procrastinating is a vice when it comes to productivity, but it can be a virtue for creativity. What you see with a lot of great originals is that they are quick to start but they are slow to finish.”

Categories: Creativity    Tags: · ·

Elizabeth Gilbert on success

“I knew well in advance that all of those people who had adored Eat Pray Love were going to be incredibly disappointed in whatever I wrote next because it wasn’t going to be Eat Pray Love, and all of those people who had hated Eat Pray Love were going to be incredibly disappointed in whatever I wrote next because it would provide evidence that I still lived.”


Categories: Creativity · Writing    Tags: · ·

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi: Creativity, happiness and flow

Categories: Productivity · Writing    Tags: · · · ·

Do schools kill creativity?

Sir Ken Robinson: “Do schools kill creativity?” Still the best TED talk ever.

Categories: Odds & Ends    Tags: · · ·

How to Tie Your Shoes

Categories: Odds & Ends    Tags: ·

How to Balance Work and Family

Nigel Marsh: How to Balance Work and Family

Categories: Odds & Ends    Tags: ·

Daniel Pink: What Motivates Us

Categories: Creativity · Productivity    Tags: · · ·

How to give a TED talk

A short documentary about what it takes to give a TED Talk.

“The thing is not to get self-conscious. It’s just like playing the piano. If you play the piano and suddenly start looking at your fingers … the music will stop.”
— Sir Ken Robinson

Categories: Odds & Ends    Tags: · · ·

Darwinian Theories of Beauty

In this TED video, Denis Dutton explains how our shared sense of what is beautiful may have its origin in human evolution. The theory connects to another idea I ran across recently: that we humans acquired our species-wide instinct for storytelling as a biological adaptation. Telling one another stories conferred on our ancient ancestors an advantage, i.e. storytelling animals were more likely to survive than non-storytelling ones. Brian Boyd seems to be the leading exponent of this theory with his book, On the Origin of Stories. (Boyd summarizes the theory here. An interesting review of the book by Michael Bérubé is here.) If all this is true — if we are hardwired to find certain art forms beautiful and to enjoy certain kinds of stories — then maybe we should not worry so much about the death of the novel after all.

Categories: Art    Tags: · · · · ·

Steven Johnson: Where good ideas come from

“Chance favors the connected mind.”

Categories: Creativity    Tags: · ·

Bill Gates on Energy

Is there a more demoralizing problem than global warming? Discussing it feels utterly hopeless. Climate skeptics are unmoveable despite the overwhelming weight of scientific evidence. Intelligent, well-meaning conservative friends of mine, people I like and respect, simply reject that the problem exists, let alone that we ought to fix it.

So I found this video of Bill Gates at TED heartening. Saddled as we are with a feckless government and a venomous, polarized political climate, it is good to know there are actual adults working on solutions. It is a hopeful note to take with you into the weekend.

Also, it occurs to me that Bill Gates has become, surprisingly, a model of how the obscenely wealthy ought to behave. Instead of using his wealth for self-indulgence or simply to go on making more and more money to no real purpose, as so many rich guys do, he has become a powerful, articulate force for good. Whatever you may think of his products or his business tactics at Microsoft (and I am no fan), Gates has become a sort of self-funded NGO, consciously emulating enlightened plutocrats past, Carnegie in particular. No longer the nerdy villain to Steve Jobs’s hip, black-turtlenecked rebel, Gates now takes on problems that seem too big even for governments: disease and poverty in Africa, global warming. Isn’t that a greater contribution than, say, the iPad?

Categories: Odds & Ends    Tags: · · · ·

The economics of dealing crack

At TED in 2004, Steven Levitt, the University of Chicago economist and co-author of Freakonomics, analyzes the economics of the street-corner crack trade. Contrary to popular belief, the “corner boys” make less than minimum wage — for a job with a higher mortality rate than death row.

Categories: Crime    Tags: · · ·