Tag Archives: Jill Taylor

Oh What You Can Learn..from the Internet

Ted Talks have changed my life…and not. I like brainy stuff just as much as the next chick, but most of it goes over my head. Yeah, my own friends call me smart, but there are times when I wonder if I’ve collected a pile of friends dumber than me just to feel smart. I was wandering around iTunes podcasts one day and landed on a TED Talk. I don’t remember was it was, but I remember saying “TOTALLY COOL!” and “REALLY?” several times. Then “This is freakin GREAT!” came soon after. TED Talks are smart people talking about amazing stuff. Smart stuff, dumb stuff, interesting stuff. They have those great jobs where they get to wander around in their own heads and think for a living. And what they think of is changing our world. I subscribed immediately and hung on for dear life until a new podcast arrived. Every single podcast was an investment in brain growth. Info I learned turned out to be useful in a varied set of situations. I even sounded smart about dark matter on a date!
Back when I started the TED addiction, podcasts were on a catch-up schedule. TED had lots of older recordings, but they were only posting the casts every so often (about one a month). Nowadays, casts arrive about every week or everyday in a good week so I was salivating early on. I breathed, ate and drank in each and every podcast and learned about amazing things, like the fact that villages in Africa naturally build their structures in fractal patterns. I learned Mathematicians are sexy. Well anybody is sexy when they are passionate about their subject matter. I also learned about advances in replacement limbs for war veterans that are getting so close the real thing we may soon be able to order long model-like hands on eBay (kidding). Quite a range of information and quite an eye-opening experience.

One day, life was kind and I got one of those giant Mac screens to have on the desk when my macbook is parked at home. I enlarged my iTunes window and TED descriptions appeared. I never expanded my iTunes window on the macbook because real estate on a 13″ screen is far too valuable. Up to this point, I only had a name to go on for each podcast and let’s face it we often don’t remember the names of super smart people (if only we could have a current day Einstein as a childhood hero instead of a rapper whose bullet wound count marks the height of his stardom) so I watched everything. Now I can filter my viewing choices. These stinking descriptions have become TIVO for TED. I hate it. I no longer stumble across fascinating information. I evaluate whether the subject interests me up front and then decide if I want to watch it. Of course, I only watch Ted Talks on things I already have some connection to (we like the familiar dontcha know) and I think I miss what could be life bending subject matter. The Internet in general has the same affect. Early on I wandered and learned, but now I live on about 10 sites when there’s a smorgasbord of stuff out there.

So then it came to me. We need Grab Bag Tags. Everyone should have to pull an item out of the Internet grab bag at every logon. Sure you grab what you need or browse what you like, but then you have to go to the grab bag and expand your horizons. Why is this important? I make this observation as being akin to distant travel. You know when you take a trip to a far-off place, you enjoy the food, the sites, the sounds and even enjoy complaining about the hotel shower so when you return home there’s that thank goodness I have my life feeling, yet you turn around to connect to everyone around you and talk about your adventures in the far-off place. We need that-a way to physically socialize the Internet. Information is only as good as our ability to transfer it to another. And mathematicians need to have more dates anyway.

More about TED Talks-
If you haven’t heard of TED, stop reading me and go check out the TED Talks. They’re on iTunes too. Subscribe today! You’ll learn mucho…like how to end a sentence properly and not with mucho like a dog with a hanging dingleberry.

So far I have a few favorites:

Jill Taylor – This woman is a neuroanatomist. That alone made me fascinated. What the heck does a neuroanatomist do? In this talk, she describes her stroke. Which is mind blowing because she’s one of the few people in the world that could explain what having a stroke does in the brain!

Robert Ballard – The ocean is our last great place of discovery. Who knows what gift we have, but haven’t yet seen?

David S Rose – How to pitch to venture capitalists. I wonder if this the same as a screenwriter’s pitch to a suit in Hollywood?

A.J. Jacobs – A year of living biblically, but the first part of his talk mentions the best month of his life, when he outsourced his life, having a staff in Bangalore handling his life (answering his email, fighting with wife..)