Absolutely the most amazing thing you’ll hear today

The wonderful people at TED have just posted the highlight of TED2009. Jose Antonio Abreu is the founder of the youth orchestra system in Venezuela (El Sistema) that has transformed the lives of thousands of young people. His TED Prize Wish is to bring El Sistema to the world. Click here to hear more about it. To support that wish, we were treated to a live concert from the Teresa Carreño Youth Orchestra, conducted by Gustavo Dudamel (himself a graduate of El Sistema, and now music director of the LA Philharmonic Orchestra).

It was incredible. Thanks to the wonders of the TED talks, I can share it with you now. For maximum mind-blowingness, plug your PC into a good set of speakers and make yourself comfortable.

Elizabeth Gilbert’s TED talk just got put online

I blogged enthusiastically about Elizabeth Gilbert’s talk a few days ago.  It has just been put up on the TED site, and here it is:

Amazing things people have said

Just so I don’t lose track of them, here is a random selection of some of the amazing things people have said so far at this year’s TED conference.

Jill Tarter, TED Prize winner and searcher for extra-terrestrial intelligence said:

The ascent of man has to go – it’s a sense of privilege the natural universe doesn’t share

Yann Arthus-Bertrand, photographer of the world from the air, and cataloguer of our impact on the earth, said:

It’s too late to be pessimistic

Bonnie Bassler, molecular biologist and ace communicator of bacterial communication processes said:

We have 10 times more bacterial cells in us and on us than human cells – we are 10% human and 90% bacterial

Golan Levin, audio-visual artist and software engineer, and creator of the amazing double-taker, said:

The (computer) mouse is probably the narrowest straw you can try and suck human expression through

Elizabeth Gilbert, the writer, about whom I have already blogged, said:

We have somehow accepted the assumption that creativity and suffering are necessarily linked

All hail the bookshop guys

This is a note of appreciation for the bookshop guys here in TED at Palm Springs.  Brendan, Paul and Mark are doing a fantastic job – part literary haven, part neighbourhood hang-out – they have created an engaged and welcoming space for all of us.  I gather that thanks are due to Neal Sofman, the owner of the West Portal Bookshop, who has been running the bookstore at TED for a number of years, and who is at Long Beach right now.

So what’s so great about it?  Well, there’s the stock.  All the speakers (assuming that missing box arrived from Long Beach) are represented, and their subject matter supported by a broader base of books by other authors.  OK, there are one or two bizarre inclusions, but where would we be without a little randomness?  And in any case, that’s what enabled the bookshop guys to run their private competition.  But mostly there’s the guys themselves.  They are so engaged with being here at TED, with the talks, with the conversations and with all of us.  Of course, that can’t help being a good commercial move – at least if my book purchases are anything to go by.

Life isn’t perfect.  Last year the very wonderful people at Wired magazine paid for us all to ship shedloads of books home by FedEd, a gift I made very good use of.  Sadly, this year they decided to do other things.  Dear Wired Magazine, please, please bring back your amazing shipping gift next year.

This is no time to be picky.  This is the time to say thank you, Brendan Sofman, thank you Mark Jobson, thank you Paul Signorelli – and have you finished reading that book I left with you yet?


I’m getting a bit hung up with language – with loss of meaning from misuse and overuse, and with heightened meaning from words newly cast. Imagine how thrilled I was to hear Daniel Libeskind’s talk this afternoon. For him, architecture is based on wonder. He spelt this out with a series of distinctions that powerfully described his architecture – words that were supported with images of some of his iconic designs.

The pairs of words are not necessarily direct opposites, and the meaning he ascribes to them is not necessarily what you might assume. My personal highlights are:

  • expressive vs neutral
  • emotional vs cool
  • political vs evasive (political meaning of the people, un-abstract)
  • raw vs refined
  • pointed vs blunt (many of his buildings are literally pointed, but he means it metaphorically as well – focused on reality)
  • communicative vs mute
  • risky vs safe

His words and his buildings reek of energy and attitude. A delight.

∞ Site by Infinity Web Design ∞
01223 233247