Ideas, Stories, and Profiles

Many of my geek friends say TED Talks are fantastic source of knowledge. I cannot disagree. Despite the fact that I am no huge fan of the talks—in fact, I know a couple of people who can’t do without these—I happen to watch a few of those they recommend to me.

Here I share five of the less-than-10 talks that I watched last year. Indeed, I found them interesting and, to a degree, thought-provoking. Enjoy!

1. A 30-year history of the future

When Negroponte, the founder of the MIT Media Lab, predicted, during a 1995 TED Talk, that people would soon buy books and newspapers over the internet, many experts in the industry were skeptical.

In this Talk, he makes a prediction for the next 30 years:

[…] One of the things about learning how to read,we have been doing a lot of consumingof information going through our eyes,and so that may be a very inefficient channel.So my prediction is that we are going to ingest informationYou’re going to swallow a pill and know English.You’re going to swallow a pill and know Shakespeare.And the way to do it is through the bloodstream.So once it’s in your bloodstream,it basically goes through it and gets into the brain,and when it knows that it’s in the brainin the different pieces,it deposits it in the right places.So it’s ingesting.

He might be right.

2. Why great leaders inspire action

Simon Sinek, author of Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action, has a simple but powerful model for inspirational leadership, all starting with his idea of a Golden Circle and the question “Why?” He says, “it’s those who start with “why”that have the ability to inspire those around themor find others who inspire them.”

3. The leaders who ruined Africa, and the generation who can fix it

Ghanean entrepreneur Fred Swaniker explains how African leaders have immense power and why they make the most differenceon the continent. He goes on to explain how the quality of leadership in Africa has been improving and says Africa has had three generations of leaders. First, the generation of leaders who fought for independence in the ’50s and ’60s, like Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana and Julius Nyerere of Tanzania. The second generation, he says, includes “people that brought nothingbut havoc”—the likes of Mobutu Sese Seko from Zaire,Sani Abacha from Nigeria.

The good news is that most of these leaders have moved on,and they were replaced by generation three.These are people like the late Nelson Mandelaand most of the leaders that we see in Africa today,like Paul Kagame and so forth.

4. Sarah Kay: If I should have a daughter

A performing poet since age 14, Sarah’s talk will make you fall (even more) in love with spoken-word poetry. She proves how this art can also act as a way to entertain,educate and inspire.

Spoken-word poetry is the art of performance poetry.I tell people it involves creating poetrythat doesn’t just want to sit on paper,that something about it demands it be heard out loudor witnessed in person.

Very powerful!

5. How giant websites design for you (an a billion others, too)

Having worked at YouTube, Margaret Gould Stewart is now Facebook’s director of product design. In this TED Talk, she outlines three rules for design at scale.

[…] what is really hardabout designing at scale is this:It’s hard in part becauseit requires a combination of two things,audacity and humility —audacity to believe that the thing that you’re makingis something that the entire world wants and needs,and humility to understand that as a designer,it’s not about you or your portfolio,it’s about the people that you’re designing for,and how your work just might help themlive better lives.

Essential to understand the process of creating experiences that touch lives of hundreds of people.

Want to tell us what were your favourite TED Talks in 2014? Share them in the comments.

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