Julian's blog: TED Session 1: Global Century

July 13th, 2010
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2pm and Chris says the magic words: “It’s time for TED!” Bruno Giussani enjoys a huge welcome and hosts session 1 – and we’re off!

First up legendary statesman Joseph Nye describes two shifts in power: transition (from west to east) and diffusion (from top to bottom). He distinguishes three ways nations (and individuals) can get their way: coercion, payment or what he calls ‘soft power’, aka enrolment. It’s no longer about armies; it’s about whose narrative wins – and this is a bumpy road: “History is not linear.” He coins the phrase ‘smart power’ (espoused by Hillary Clinton) – combining hard power (force) and soft power (enrolment) as situations require.

 

Next is Pullitzer Prize winner Sheryl WuDunn. Shocking statistics: there are 60-100 million women missing in the third world (aborted or died through neglect). Men with income less than $2 per day spend 2% on education, 20% on cigarettes/alcohol/prostitutes. There were 80,000 slaves taken each year at peak; 800,000 girls are trafficked into the slavery of prostitution. WuDunn’s solution: educate girls – they will have less babies, and the vicious circle will be replaced with a virtuous one as they produce income for their families.

 

Third is a great talk by Naif Al-Mutawa about The 99. How brilliant to use comic books to propagate the goodness that is in the Koran (each of the 99 embodies an Islamic virtue) and to give muslim children positive role models to replace suicide bombers. The 99 are about to be a major TV series, and there is already a theme park. I had never come across this before and found it truly inspiring – as well as a brilliant presentation. First standing ovation of the week.

 

Fourth up is Nic Marks, proposing that wealth is no measure of happiness. So why don’t we measure happiness instead of GDP (which, as Kennedy said, measures everything except that which makes life worthwhile). Marks has produced a happiness index to help us focus on what really matters (as opposed to more stuff) – and Costa Rica is the happiest place on Earth! Five daily practices to achieve a happy life:
1 connect (with friends, family); 2 be active (exercise); 3 take notice (be conscious); 4 keep learning; 5 give.

 

Finally Swiss/Lebanese cartoonist Patrick Chappatte, convincing us that cartoons can unite divided peoples as well as fighting oppression – with some very funny examples of his work (my favourite – Jobs showing iPad onstage and saying: “This will simplify a lot of tasks you don’t have to do yet.”)

 

A solid first session, not earth-shattering but hey let’s not peak too soon!

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