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10 Takeaways From TED 2011

Being wrong is as essential to life as being right, the rise of the "filter bubble," and other ideas from the annual ideas summit that are worth repeating.
Smart People: Roger Ebert (left), conductor Eric Whitacre and his Virtual Choir, Wael Ghonim, the Egyptian-born Googler, and slam poet Sarah Kay all spoke at TED.
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TED is one of the world's most important meeting of amazing minds and, consequently, tends to produce its fair share of insights. What makes the event unique is that it is completely polymath, bringing together people from every discipline under the sun. The interaction between people who have different perspectives and experiences cannot help but create insights like those that follow:

10. People don't have to be together to create something more than the sum of their parts. Conductor Eric Whitacre's Virtual Choirs feature the voices of thousands of people from around the world who performed their parts alone via YouTube.

9. Living is in the struggle, not just the existence. The South Africa-based Handspring Puppet Company creates amazingly lifelike puppets whose struggle to be believed to be real on stage is a metaphor, they say, for the struggle to do more than simply exist in the time we're on earth.

8. Schools don't teach the really important stuff. Math, science, fine, but what about character, collaboration, and global connection? David Brooks wonders how we get our schools to teach the things that will really matter for student success in the 21st century.

7. Corporate brands are an incredibly powerful (and maybe influenceable) force. In The Greatest Story Ever Sold, Morgan Spurlock (the director behind films such as Supersize Me) tells the story of brands—good, bad and ugly—in the modern era. For all the bad news, initiatives such as TED's "Ads Worth Spreading" suggest that there is hope to influence these massive cultural influencers.

6. Sometimes you need to cling tight and crawl forward. Famed director and set designer Julie Taymor's current travails with her controversial staging of Spiderman on Broadway recalled a moment while exploring the edge of live volcano in Italy that reminded her that sometimes, you must just hold tight and crawl forward.

5. The Internet can be made bad as well as good. MoveOn.org organizer Eli Pariser worries that the social Internet is creating a "filter bubble" through which we get only information we already agree with.

4. Not all revolutions need leaders. Wael Ghonim, the Egyptian-born Googler who set up the Facebook page that enabled the first wave of the Egyptian revolution, told the TED crowd that the most remarkable thing about the uprising was that everyone (and no one) were its leaders.

3. You don't have to be old to be wise. One of the wisest talks of the event was by the youngest speaker, 22-year-old slam poet Sarah Kay, who showed how the doors of self-expression are available to everyone.

2. Being wrong is as essential to life as being right. School and society create a stigma around failure and around being wrong, but the "wrongologist" Kathryn Schultz shows how often we're wrong, how much it feels like being right, and how much that means we need to change our attitude about it.

1. You don't have to have a voice to tell the world your story. Roger Ebert's incredible power to communicate was hampered when cancer made it so that he was unable to speak. In the few years since, however, he has used the power of the Internet and other communication technology to talk to the world.

Last updated: Mar 9, 2011




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