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Posts Tagged ‘TED Talks’

I’m usually quite an optimistic writer when it comes to the Internet, blogging, and information technologies. I’ve written over 180 articles on these subjects and it’s a rare occasion that I ever focus on the negative side of things. I guess I need to be an optimist; I really have faith that these new forms of human communication and collaboration are going to help our species evolve its collective social consciousness to a level where we are much more in tune with each other and the world around us. However, I guess because of the nature of the Universe, it being composed of equal parts positive and negative forces (as represented in the Chinese symbol ‘Yin Yang’), there had to be a time where my perspective shifted towards the other end of the spectrum. That time is now. I still love what I do and all that humanity has achieved, but lately I can’t help but focus on the many ways in which we have failed to reach a functioning level in terms of simplicity of design with these new technologies. Technology is meant to be simple and easy so that the masses can partake in its wonder and utilise its power. Somewhere along the way we seem to have lost our bearings. Let me tell you about my day today.

My last post was entitled, ‘I can’t find the kinds of blogs that I’d like to read. Help me!’ and it typifies how my interaction with computers and the Internet has been lately. In that post I talk about the terrible experience I had when I decided to search for blogs written about Kung Fu. That is only the beginning of the tale. This TED Talk by David Pogue that I just listened to about the simplicity (or lack thereof) of design in modern technology exemplifies my current mental state. He particularly likes to focus on the stupidity of many Microsoft creations like Windows and Word, but I’m going to take a much broader approach with my criticisms. For me, things don’t really relate to only one company or technology, although admittedly I do use a Mac (which if you have one, you will know that it can be hard to be a Mac user in a world full of Microsoft and Linux users) so it seems I unwittingly chose a hard road for myself. My issues stretch in all directions and are not prejudiced against anyone in particular. What I am feeling is a deep questioning in terms of the integrity and fallibility of human designers who are behind a lot of what has been produced for our society. There’s no doubt about it. We’ve got the brains – but are we using them?

Yesterday I went to my girlfriend’s university to use the Internet, as my office at home was extremely hot and I needed some cool air conditioning to get my brain functioning. The students in the computer labs wouldn’t shut up, but that’s another story completely. My thumb drive that I store much of my work on no longer works on nearly all of the computers in the library – only one row of very old ones, in an area that is quite noisy. My thumb drive does work in the computer labs however … Why is it so?

I just got a new RSS Reader for my Mac; I downloaded it free online. See my previous post ‘RSS Readers: Why don’t you have one? Are you crazy?’ Well, for some reason I keep trying to add blogs to this ‘Shrook’ Reader and it just won’t take them. The blog sites say that they have RSS feeds available and yet they either simply don’t work, or I get a message saying that it can’t read the XML.

A friend of mine sent me a link to a program called Workrave that tells you automatically when you should take a break from your computer so that you don’t get Repetitive Strain Injury in your wrists. He owns an Optometry Clinic with his wife (she’s the optometrist) and uses this program, but in the context of relieving strain on the eyes. Of course it won’t work on a Mac, only Windows and Linux. I tried getting a few Mac equivalents like ‘Type-Break-Mode’, but couldn’t easily find where I could download it. You know when you hit on a Google link with your desired key words and you get a page of html computer code? That happened repeatedly. Repeatedly …

My brother gave me a program called Irip, which is supposed to let you download your songs off of your Ipod onto your Itunes program in your computer (when Apple made the Ipod they only wanted songs to be able to travel one way, computer to MP3 player). It’s supposed to be easy. I must be an idiot because I can’t get it to work! Are you getting my drift here?

Then there’s the issue of content on the Internet. I found a list of blogs about blogging that supposedly originated from Technorati CEO David Sifry at a blog called ‘I’m Blogging This’. Most of these blogs only touch on blogging, and some of them have nothing to do with it at all. I looked up literary blogs (I like reading books and want to get a list of other bloggers with similar interests) to see if I’d have any more luck than with my Kung Fu blog search debacle. I found this really cool web page that lists heaps of literary blogs: ‘The Complete Review’s Links to Literary Weblogs‘. The funny thing is that my search engine didn’t provide this list. No way. The only reason that a comprehensive list like this one even exists is because some individual human beings put the effort in to compile it themselves. The search engine spiders don’t have one up on simple human endeavours. Prove me wrong people!

I love technology. It needs to be simple to use. The people who make it are thinking too much. It’s all too complex, varied, random, and disassociated from meaning. KISS: Keep It Simple Stupid.

Jesse S. Somer is not the brightest kid on the block. He needs the processes of ‘future’ technologies to be created with simpletons like him in mind.

Copyright MiContent.com.au

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Most probably you know TED…I’m often the last person to find out about something or someone new and/or cool, so I just spent my whole afternoon getting to know TED. For those of you who don’t know of TED already, first let me let you in on a little secret. TED isn’t a person. TED is a group of people…A group of people that changes every year; a group of people (extremely talented and intelligent people-Why not?) who get together and discuss any and all topics that humanity sees as being ‘fresh and important’.

TED stands for ‘Technology, Entertainment, and Design’, but as the ‘About TED’ page will tell you, no relevant subject evades these passionately focussed minds that are so keen to learn and share knowledge with one another. The Arts, Business, and the Sciences aren’t left out-you can read, listen to podcasts, and watch video talks from some of the most renown and scholarly individuals on the globe…plus they throw in a few healthy comedians to keep things light (as they should be).

The ‘Tedblog‘ keeps you up to date with all that’s being said, and normally I like to focus on the written word (as opposed to videoblogs and podcasts), but in this case I was completely captivated by the video links found on the ‘TED Talks’ web page (linked to from the main TED site). These are ‘talks’ or oral presentations, usually around 18 minutes in length, but which can be as short as 3 minutes, although the length definitely doesn’t limit the potential for impact. I haven’t witnessed a boring talk as of yet.

Check this little 3 minute talk about ‘Why people succeed’ by Richard St. John and you’ll know what I mean. I also watched an incredible 14-year-old concert pianist named Jennifer Lin whose skills will simply blow your mind. Wait until the end and watch her improvise with 5 random notes chosen from a member (You’ll probably recognise her too) of the crowd.

Closer to home and relating to some of my recent posts here at MiContent, this talk by Sasa Vucinic about venture capitalists helping to fund independent media in developing countries (where most media is controlled and censored) was quite inspirational. In my last post (‘Some ‘real’ journalists don’t think bloggers can write’ I discussed the opinions of some mainstream media (newspaper) journalists who felt that blogs were destroying some of the information sharing process. This video talk touched on some interesting points relating to the need for more independent newspapers in the world…at least blogs generally don’t seem to have much problem with outside interests filtering content. Or do they?

Another awesome, enlightening, and even humorous presentation I saw (a must see) was from a Swedish professor named Hans Rosling (founder of ‘Gap Minder‘), which was based on the changing health and wealth in our world. A while back I wrote about a book I read that discussed how humanity could change our behaviours to make the world into a better place (‘Can you change the world?’). Well, this fellow pretty much proves that our planet is now already much better off than it ever has been!

I also had a good couple of laughs with this comedian Ze Frank, and another quick 3 minute performance by the poet/spoken word specialist who calls himself Rives. Check out the Tedblog and some of the other talks and tell me about any that grabbed your attention and why. I think it’s about time we all got to know a bit about what TED is all about.

Jesse S. Somer may never be invited or be able to afford a ticket to see TED, but just watching TED’s work has been uplifting in itself.

Copyright MiContent.com.au

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