May 7, 2010

TEDxEast: play, dream, create - session 3

after the break, john-henry harris returned to the stage to present the winners of the LEGO design contest. runner-up: LEGO robot. winner: TED logo.

suzanne vega took the stage again for two songs: one of which she'd worked on with danger mouse, and the other, her 1981 hit "tom's diner." i always liked that song, but something about seeing it live really made it delightful. she was especially adorable when she accidentally repeated a song stanza...and then did it again.

married couple marie hyon and marco spier shared their work at psyop, a design firm making "commercials that people want to watch." before playing a video of a beautiful crow promo (below) they did for MTV, they explained how they get their ideas. marco shared his habit of having "sock dreams" -- mind-wandering moments between putting on his socks during which he often forgets to continue. one of my favorite things they talked about was their appreciation for the "details in every day items." that's very much the philosophy i use in my work, and marco's observation that "the floor is really interesting" resonated with me immensely. i've been toying with creating a photography piece called "look up : look down," and they really inspired me to revisit it.  (VIDEO of their entire talk)

an expert in the art of choice, columbia business school professor sheena iyengar used notes in her talk, which is usually frowned upon at TED, probably because it limits your ability to connect with the audience through eye contact. sheena pulled it off beauitfully because she is blind, and her notes were in braille. she spoke about the the "bermuda triangle of choice" which frequently presents challenges as we pursue more and more options. specifically, we seek to be unique, but not too unique. "i am an individual, not an outcast," we seem to be saying. she shared some interesting research that showed that speed daters who have fewer choices are more likely to pick a mate that aligns with their preferences, but when given more options, they just pick whomever is more attractive. my favorite of her anecdotes related to a dispute over nail polish colors. she showed the audience two similar nail polish shades and explained how their names (adore-a-ball and ballet slippers) affected their desirability, despite the fact that they were practically indistinguishable. i had to laugh, since i happen to be wearing ballet slippers polish on my nails right now.  (VIDEO of her entire talk)

the big surprise performer of the day was MC baba, an "academic rapper" known for his hip-hop renditions of the canterbury tales and the theories of charles darwin. he performed an excerpt from his darwin piece which equated the hip hop artist's creative cycle to darwin's theory of evolution: performance, feedback, revision. money quote: "i now have the first ever hip hop show that's peer reviewed.(VIDEO of his entire performance)

the final speaker of TEDxEast was bruce feiler, author of "the council of dads." he shared his story of getting cancer in his leg and facing his own mortality in the the face of his twin girls. in response, he called upon his six best friends to create a "council of dads" -- men who agreed to step in and offer fatherly advice to his daughters in case bruce couldn't be there himself. "i sort of friend-married each of these guys," he joked. after agreeing to the task, each of his friends shared the advice they'd most want to give his daughters. in the course of collecting the advice for his daughters, he realized that it was just as important for him, and it turned into his book. he described one of his friends as his "tadpole" -- someone who knew him when he was young and wriggly and then they grew up and hopped away. "tend to your tadpoles," bruce said, "you never know when you'll need a pal." another friend's advice was to "approach the cow," a reference to their fearless days of cow-tipping. the sweetest anecdote was his daughter tybee's advice for good health: "just drink milk, 'cause that's where love comes from." i had seen bruce pacing nervously in a corner during an earlier break. "are you speaking next?" i asked him. he nodded. "you're going to be great," i assured him...and he was.  (VIDEO of his entire talk)

the conference closed with rives' choice of 5 phrases that pay (his hybrid winner: "approach the cow...that's where love comes from") and MC baba's mockingbird-style rap recap of the day's talks.

one other notable observation: prezi was definitely the presentation medium of choice at TEDxEast, as it was used by gaspard, anderson, mattar, and iyengar.

click here for session 1
click here for session 2

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