10 Most Thought Provoking TED Talks of 2013

1. Hyeonseo Lee: My escape from North Korea

As a child growing up in North Korea, Hyeonseo Lee thought her country was “the best on the planet.” It wasn’t until the famine of the 90s that she began to wonder. She escaped the country at 14, to begin a life in hiding, as a refugee in China. Hers is a harrowing, personal tale of survival and hope — and a powerful reminder of those who face constant danger, even when the border is far behind.

[12:15 Posted: Mar 2013]

2. Ken Robinson: How to escape education’s death valley

Sir Ken Robinson outlines 3 principles crucial for the human mind to flourish — and how current education culture works against them. In a funny, stirring talk he tells us how to get out of the educational “death valley” we now face, and how to nurture our youngest generations with a climate of possibility.

[19:11 Posted: May 2013]

3. Meg Jay: Why 30 is not the new 20

Clinical psychologist Meg Jay has a bold message for twentysomethings: Contrary to popular belief, your 20s are not a throwaway decade. In this provocative talk, Jay says that just because marriage, work and kids are happening later in life, doesn’t mean you can’t start planning now. She gives 3 pieces of advice for how twentysomethings can re-claim adulthood in the defining decade of their lives.

[14:49 Posted: May 2013]

4. Angela Lee Duckworth: The key to success? Grit

Leaving a high-flying job in consulting, Angela Lee Duckworth took a job teaching math to seventh graders in a New York public school. She quickly realized that IQ wasn’t the only thing separating the successful students from those who struggled. Here, she explains her theory of “grit” as a predictor of success.

[06:12 Posted: May 2013]

5. Paul Kemp-Robertson: Bitcoin. Sweat. Tide. Meet the future of branded currency.

Currency — the bills and coins you carry in your wallet and in your bank account — is founded on marketing, on the belief that banks and governments are trustworthy. Now, Paul Kemp-Robertson walks us through a new generation of currency, supported by that same marketing … but on behalf of a private brand. From Nike Sweat Points to bottles of Tide (which are finding an unexpected use in illegal markets), meet the non-bank future of currencies.

[10:51 Posted: Jul 2013]

6. Pico Iyer: Where is home?

More and more people worldwide are living in countries not considered their own. Writer Pico Iyer — who himself has three or four “origins” — meditates on the meaning of home, the joy of traveling and the serenity of standing still. Pico Iyer’s travel writing chronicles fascinating (and often jarring) examples of cultural mashups. Now he shows how travel can rescue us from our technological distractions.

[14:01 Posted: Jul 2013]

7. Bernie Krause: The voice of the natural world

Bernie Krause has been recording wild soundscapes — the wind in the trees, the chirping of birds, the subtle sounds of insect larvae — for 45 years. In that time, he has seen many environments radically altered by humans, sometimes even by practices thought to be environmentally safe. A surprising look at what we can learn through nature’s symphonies, from the grunting of a sea anemone to the sad calls of a beaver in mourning.

[14:48 Posted: Jul 2013]

 8. Joshua Prager: In search of the man who broke my neck

When Joshua Prager was 19, a devastating bus accident left him a hemiplegic. He returned to Israel twenty years later to find the driver who turned his world upside down. In this mesmerizing tale of their meeting, Prager probes deep questions of nature, nurture, self-deception and destiny.

[18:30 Posted: Apr 2013]

 9. Lawrence Lessig: We the People, and the Republic we must reclaim

There is a corruption at the heart of American politics, caused by the dependence of Congressional candidates on funding from the tiniest percentage of citizens. That’s the argument at the core of this blistering talk by legal scholar Lawrence Lessig. With rapid-fire visuals, he shows how the funding process weakens the Republic in the most fundamental way, and issues a rallying bipartisan cry that will resonate with many in the U.S. and beyond.

[18:19 Posted: Apr 2013]

10. Amanda Palmer: The art of asking

Don’t make people pay for music, says Amanda Palmer: Let them. In a passionate talk that begins in her days as a street performer (drop a dollar in the hat for the Eight-Foot Bride!), she examines the new relationship between artist and fan.

[13:47 Posted: Mar 2013]

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