Day 215: Making maps to fight disasters

In 2009, Google’s Lalitesh Katragadda watched as parts of his country were destroyed by a cyclone. The U.N. was unable to deliver help quickly enough, as the area hadn’t yet been mapped. Indeed, Katragdda reminds us its difficult to imagine, but in 2005 less than 15% of the world was mapped to geocortical detail. 
Forty Google employees decided to change this over four days. Using a program called Mapmaker, they mapped everything from roads to rivers to create a detailed map. The result was that aid could reach the area faster. Since then, this project has been used extensively throughout the world. So, to the 70% of previously unmapped areas: welcome to the grid! 


Day 214: Taylor Mali- what teachers make

Taylor Mali is one of the few people in the world to have no other job other than that of poet. In this poem, he delivers a comeback to those who’ve ever used the phrase, ‘Those who can’t do, teach.’ Inspirational stuff for teachers everywhere.

“I make parents tremble in fear when I call them.”
“I can make a C+ feel like a congressional medal of honour.”

Day 213: Bobby McFerrin hacks your brain with music

How tuneful can one TED audience be? In ‘Notes and Neurons: in search of the common chorus’, Bobby McFerrin uses the pentatonic scale to show how our brains are wired to play certain notes, corresponding to his movements. Interestingly, every audience he’s seen gets it.


Day 212: David Byrne

David Byrne can be described as many things, amongst them: musician, author, filmmaker, curator, conservationist, digital music theorist, bicycle advocate, urban designer, visual artist, humanist. In this video, he shows his voice is as good as ever, as he performs the 1988 Talking Heads hit, ‘Nothing But Flowers’ with 21st century string quartet Ethel and Thomas Dolby. Well worth a look. 

Day 211: Kirk Citron- And now, the real news.

How many of today’s stories will matter in 100 years?
According to Kirk Citron, we are drowning in news. Reuters puts out 3.5 million news stories a year. ‘The Long News’ is a project founded by TED fellows, with the aim of examining the stories which will make a difference in future.
So what will be important? According to Citron, science is a front runner. There’s also the issue of resources; how will we feed everybody? Global politics are also undergoing major changes; the world will surely be different when, or if, China sets the agenda.
These headlines are in stark contrast to the stories which are actually making the news; items such as celebrity culture and the American economy. In the long run, some news stories are definitely more important than others.

Day 210: How complexity leads to simplicity

Does complex always equal complicated?
Eric Berlow is an ecologist who studies the interconnectedness of species. From nature studies, they’ve learnt some key points about complexity. First is the power of good visualisation tools. Secondly, they’ve learnt the importance of examining the whole ecosystem rather than focusing on one particular part.
With these ideas in mind, Berlow tells us to embrace complexity and presents what he terms, ‘the world’s simplest spaghetti diagram.’In 24 seconds of looking at this, simple answers may emerge. His message? The more you can zoom out and look at complexity, the better your chances are of zooming in on the simple details that matter most.