News & Events

TED Comes to Campus

I don’t get a lot (== understatement) of opportunities for training or development in my current job but every now and then the NC State campus will host an interesting speaker or worthwhile seminar. The prize of working in an intellectual environment is that sometimes we get the opportunity to expand our horizons. Today I went to TEDxNCSU.

TED Talks are “ideas worth spreading” – think “viral” in the good sense. Celebrities, comedians, professors, scientists and everyday people come to these TED events and share inspiring ideas. TEDx events are meant to be TED Talks on a smaller local scale and today’s event had students, professors and professionals from NC State and the surrounding area.

The complete program can be found online and video of all the presenters is available on YouTube. In the meantime, here are a few thoughts I had about several of today’s sessions, and links to a couple from TED that I found particularly inspiring.

Self Control: The Problem and How to Get Over It
Dr. Dan Ariely

This was one of the best talks of the day and a great opening. Dr. Ariely was a great presenter with facinating stories. He’s an Economics professor from Duke and has written a couple book on irrational behavior that I’ve got to get on my Amazon Wishlist. His talk discussed delayed gratification and how we can mitigate poor decision-making by removing the tempting options. Could be applied to everyday life in so many ways…

Journalism and Discourse Without Newspapers
Chase Whiteside and Erick Stoll

These guys came out and talked about a problem that is well-known, but often avoided: the forthcoming demise of the newspaper. More specifically, the movement of the written news word to the internet and what it means for journalism. There are no journalists like there were ten or fifteen years ago – newspapers can’t afford them. Investigative research has all but disappeared and there are a lot fewer folks out there seeking the truth and aiming to keep our politicians honest. They also pointed out the somewhat difficult truth, that our online news is what we choose: often a partisan source, for whatever side we prefer, that gives us news in short bursts. Make no mistake, the way we consume news has changed and it’s certainly not all for the better.

Buying Happiness
Dr. Stacy Wood

This was the second of two talks on happiness and while the presenter is an expert in marketing, this presentation spoke very much to economics, similar to Dr. Ariely’s presentation. This talk had to do with the connection between happiness and money. We know money can’t buy happiness but we continually make decisions that refute that: we are inspired to do the things which make us more money, even to the detriment of things we know make us happy. Our free time, vacation, family priorities often get put on the backburner for our work, satisfying or not. It was a sobering look at consumerism, especially the discussion on retail therapy which, as my overstuffed shoe closet will attest, is as a very real thing. We’re hunters and gathers: we feel better, more in control, when we can go forth and get the things we want, no matter how unnecessary or irrational. Mmmmm, shoes.

While the in-house presenters were largely very good it’s probably not surprising that many of the most inspirational talks were the ones done by The Professionals. “Real” TED Talks were shared over the course of the day and I’m including two here that I particularly enjoyed.

The first is a very brief discussion on “How to Start a Movement”. The second, a much longer presentation, talks about the value of music and how it moves us all and brings us together. Both are very much worth your time and I hope you enjoy them.