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Spaghetti sauce & other chunky content

If anyone mentions/raves about a 20-minute video featuring spaghetti sauce by Malcolm Gladwell (remember Tipping Point & Blink) don’t be surprised. The video is found on Ted Talks, which is a bit like a YouTube channel for adults.

TED (Technology Entertainment Design) has been around since 1984 and was started by Richard Saul Wurman but seems to have really taken off under the direction of Chris Anderson.

TED talkers have 18 minutes to engage, persuade, cajole, elucidate and communicate their passion to 1,000 guests who have typically paid US$4,000 each to be there. Now that 100 of the videos from those talks have been released to the public we can all share in this amazing content.

TED even has even inspired and influenced some great events in New Zealand like 7x7 in Wellington hosted by Brian Sweeney and Jan Bieringa where participants had 7 minutes to wow the audience … however, more of that later. Let’s get back to the spaghetti … “What we can learn from spaghetti sauce” by Malcolm Gladwell.

“In this witty monologue, Malcolm Gladwell follows the career of a food industry consultant who uncovered a key secret to what eaters like. Running huge focus groups to find customers’ truest tastes, Gladwell’s hero draws a radical conclusion, an epiphany that has defined food marketing ever since. Note: The theme of the 2004 conference was “The Pursuit of Happiness”—hence the talk’s quirky presence. …

Malcolm Gladwell specializes in surprises—counterintuitive truths discovered by clever researchers, obscure historians, and ordinary people observing the world.

Malcolm is a great speaker and this is a good opportunity to see him and many other presentations that are often only found at expensive conferences and take forever to deliver. This one is meandering and discursive and totally fascinating to a contrarian like me.

GladwellOne of the best presentations is only 3 minutes long. You do have to register to get full access but it is free and a brilliant resource. The new improved website for the talks was relaunched on 16th of April. Seth Godin is worth checking—not sure about Bill Clinton or Bono who are also in the archive. There is also a 20 minute version of Al Gores Global Warning in the Bold Predictions, Stern Warnings theme section.

Other video presentations I really like are: Richard St. John:Secrets of success in 8 words, 3 minutes Inspired by a chance encounter with a high school student who asked him how to become a success, St. John interviewed more than 500 successful people, then distilled what they told him into eight simple principles. Ted

Joshua Prince-Ramus is best known as architect of the Seattle Central Library and his presentation is mind blowing. There is also a presentation by Frank Gehry on TED talks as well—but I haven't seen that one yet.

Sir Ken Robinson:Do schools kill creativity? is one of the most popular presentations. Sir Ken led the British government's 1998 advisory committee on creative and cultural education, a massive inquiry into the significance of creativity in the educational system and the economy, and was knighted in 2003 for his achievements.

The New Zealand link to TED dates back to presentation by Ramana Rao, the (then) Xerox Parc computer scientist who got the standing ovation at an early TED that triggered 7×7.

From the legendary Xerox PARC, Silicon Valley software designer Ramana Rao showed his new navigation design, the Hyperbolic Tree. You zoomed over your files like gliding continuously over a 3D sphere, looking down at your data. As soon as he started his demo you could hear the frisson in the air. People started applauding through the presentation. At the end of seven minutes he received a spontaneous standing ovation from the 400-strong audience. So that was that sealed. Seven minutes. All you get to turn it on.

7×7 ran in Wellington from 2000 and ran for 16 events until 2003 at e-vision in Wakefield St, produced by Jan Bieringa of Blair Wakefield Projects and Brian Sweeney of SweeneyVesty. There was a second series in 2006 with assistance from the Wellington and some of those NZ presentations are also available on the site or for the 4min video highlights go here

Sweeney writes that "at TED07 I met Ramana; he was tickled that his short talk generated an idea over time and distance." And that the series of "7×7 is sleeping at present, it's in the "love to do" camp and we're looking at what we'll do in 2007."

More recent NZ connections with Sam Morgan (TradeMe) and an intriguing project called "GoVirtualMedical" (GVM) which is a group of surgeons, educators, businessmen and computer experts who have created a multimedia clinical skills trainer that meets the practical training needs of health professionals. GVM which features a brace of significant NZ names including Professor John Windsor, Dr Rick Boven, Greg Sitters and Craig Meek who are well known in tech circles here.

Finally here is a great reason to blow that datacap. This is what broadband was built for. Note: a 20 min clip is around 70mb and there are also audio clips as well. Could be perfect for the Ipod too as you can save (possibly not all clips) in iTunes mp3 or mp4 formats for the desktop or devices.

Latest Update: Here are two variations on the theme for Aucklanders. Pecha Kucha is Japanese for "the sound of conversation". The format is 20 slides for 20 seconds each and is targetted at creative types who have a total of 6minutes and 40 seconds to tell their story. The first NZ evening was held at Galatos on 19th of April see the local Pecha Kucha site for more details.

If words are more your thing—we mustn't forget the Great Blend Debate hosted by Public Address and sponsored in part by this magazine and we hear that there are plans for a cyber salon being organised by some others.

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