Thursday, March 02, 2006


There's a Ted blog ! And what a nice place it is (ex-students will recall my emphasis on connections and creativity) - from reports on the recent conference (sounds like a very Californian affair, in a good way :-)):

Sharing TED Moments ...

"Every year, we leave Monterey buzzing about our "TED moments": those magical instances of creativity and connectivity that can happen only at TED. Some are collective experiences: a moment of profound inspiration on stage ripples through the audience, and you can almost see the lightbulbs illuminating over 500 heads. Others are deeply personal ... the kind of "A-ha!" moments that happen when you suddenly connect your own ideas with something far deeper or meet a person who transforms your thinking.
Many bloggers have already shared their TED moments: Bill Liao found his world view changed by Al Gore's wake-up call on climate change. Something clicked for John Maeda during Ken Robinson's talk on education. The normally unflappable Ethan Zuckerman found himself tongue-tied in the presence of Dan Dennett. Bruno Giussani mused over the unceremonious removal of Al Gore's namebadge. And Andrew Anker laughed at himself, with Tipper Gore's help.

For me, three TED Moments in particular stand out: all moments when our collective energy surged ...

The groan of disappointment when Julia Sweeney reached the 18-minute mark in her brilliant one-woman show, "Letting Go of God," and declared, "I'm sorry. I have to stop."
The sharp intake of breath (in a session bearing that name), as Jeff Han breezily manipulated images on his next generation computer interface, shown publicly for the first time at TED.
The spontaneous applause following Hans Rosling's play-by-play explanation of globalization..."

Ted blogged

Of course there were bloggers there, one of most thorough was Ethan Zuckerman:

"The pace of my blogging of the TED conference made it more or less impossible to point to other bloggers hard at work at the same event. Bruno Giussani also liveblogged the event - he and I spent Saturday lunch comparing our strategies and our relative levels of exhaustion. Next year, maybe we'll be smarter and take turns covering events. If you're looking for comprehensive coverage of the conference, put his posts together with mine, and you'll have pages and pages of in-depth posts.

The official TED blog, put together by June Cohen and others, had an excellent feature - "the day in quotes". "The Lone Ronin" had better seats than I did, and has lots of good photos of the glitterati with their red badges. Ory Okolloh and "My Name is Kate" both offered their favorites of each session. Tom from TrueTalk, Loic Le Meur, kev/null, Renee Blodgett and surely others I'm missing.

Tom Abate, writing in the San Francisco Chronicle, highlighted some of his favorite talks from TED and was kind enough to note my three-minute talk on Asian blogs.

Thanks to everyone from TED and all the speakers for four unforgettable days and lots of exciting new ideas to play with."

He presents these stats, which give you an idea of what's involved in blogging a whole conference:

"Summarizing TED"
Filed under: TED2006 — Ethan @ 4:17 pm

Tom Rielly has a very funny, very profane, very politically incorrect summary of the conference. Rather than attempting to replicate his unique performance, replete with armies of barbie dolls, powerpoint slides, and references to a “crade to crade scream bag”, Negroponte’s “One Lapdance per Child” intiative, and satanic messages promoting “The Purpose Driven Life”, I’ll offer my own quantitative summary:

Days I spent at TED: parts of 4
Hours I spent sitting in TED sessions: roughly 22
Posts I’ve put up about TED thus far: 44, including this one
Approximate total words in those posts: 19,000
Approximate words per post: 432
Approximate words written per hour at TED: 864
Approximate number of beers I plan to drink this afternoon: roughly equivalent to the number of Al Gore/Brokeback Mountain jokes Tom just told..."

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Fatuous "Art"/fabulous photos

The fatuous red line "Art"

On Robert Elms' show on BBC Radio London (1.3.2006) they tracked down the young woman who had spray-painted a red line on roads from Tottenham Court Road to the Thames. A male friend had phoned in; she was reluctant to talk but finally agreed. It turned out that she was an Artist - oh dear. Asked about the idea behind it she said she didn't want to say because she liked it that people were asking questions and didn't want to stop them by saying what her idea was. How many times do we have to hear this nonsense ? To start with, according to her, it's not just a line but it is the beginning of a shape - which we wouldn't know, so our guessing would be hampered by this lack of information. But, of course, it's absurd to suppose that hearing her idea will stop people asking questions and thinking for themselves. Though what they'll probably think when they do find out is that her idea is about as fatuous as those behind so many bits of "conceptual" "Art".

The fabulous photos of Lennart Nilsson

By contrast we have the beautiful, informative, technically brilliant photographs by Lennart Nilsson of the human body which he began in 1957. His latest book, Life, has incredible images of viruses attacking cells taken with an electron scanning microscope.

See the gallery of photos at Channel 4

How Life Begins - 1965

"In 1957 he began taking pictures with an endoscope, an instrument that can see inside a body cavity, but when Lennart Nilsson presented the rewards of his work to LIFE’s editors several years later, they demanded that witnesses confirm that they were seeing what they thought they were seeing. Finally convinced, they published a cover story in 1965 that went on for 16 pages, and it created a sensation. Then, and over the intervening years, Nilsson’s painstakingly made pictures informed how humanity feels about . . . well, humanity. They also were appropriated for purposes that Nilsson never intended. Nearly as soon as the 1965 portfolio appeared in LIFE, images from it were enlarged by right-to-life activists and pasted to placards."

Digital Journalist

Capturing Birdflu

Now he's working on photographing the birdflu virus:

"I want to describe it in the highest possible sharpness so we can know what it is," Lennart Nilsson said during a phone conversation yesterday. The Swedish photographer has been traveling inside the human body in order to show how it works since 1965, when he published A Child is Born to international acclaim. Using high-powered microscopes, Nilsson has taken pictures of HIV, SARS, and now H5N1, better known as birdflu. You can see those pictures in all of their surreal glory here.

Photography may not seem like a weapon for combatting infectious disease, but Nilsson has been using photo-journalism to help scientists understand the viruses they study for decades. The scientists he is collaborating with at the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm want to see inside cells so they can better develop a vaccine.

“It is a simple story in a way,” Nilsson said, “but the problem is to have the instrument.” Nilsson will receive a new Japanese microscope in the next few months that magnifies up to ten billion times, allowing him to go inside cells to show how they are infiltrated.

"To take pictures of it in a new way– of the virus as an invader, to see it in sharp pictures in three dimensions– this is my dream."

Lennart Nilsson, from a conversation with Open Source on 1/16/06