Tag Archives: Ted talks

Video: Are We Living in a Postfactual Society?

I found this quote particularly telling. Notice the term “postfactual society.” I hadn’t heard it before, but it fits quite well:

It’s been suggested that we’ve moved to a postfactual society, where evidence and truth no longer matter, and lies have equal status to the clarity of evidence. So how can we rebuild respect for truth and evidence into our liberal democracies? It has to begin with education, but it has to start with the recognition that there are huge gaps.

This comes at about 10:50 into this TED talk by Alexander Betts, on Brexit. I recommend this one for anybody reading this, especially Americans. What he says about realities of class division and globalization applies equally to this country.  He offers fascinating data from the U.K. Applying it here, in the U.S. as well, is obvious.

He also offers a set of recommendations on what we do about it. A difficult path to follow, but a whole lot better than just cursing what is.

TED talk: A Growing Threat to Democracy

About a third of the way into this talk from last year’s TED global the speaker says:

Have you wondered why politicians are not what they used to be? It’s not because their DNA has degenerated. It is rather because one can be in government today and not in power, because power has migrated from the political to the economic sphere.

The audience laughs at the DNA joke, but then falls silent. The speaker, Yanis Varoufakis, who was Greece’s finance minister during last year’s Greek financial crisis, has a very serious point.

Over the last three months, in the United States, in Britain and in the Eurozone, we have invested, collectively, 3.4 trillion dollars on all the wealth-producing goods — things like industrial plants, machinery, office blocks, schools, roads, railways, machinery, and so on and so forth. $3.4 trillion sounds like a lot of money until you compare it to the $5.1 trillion that has been slushing around in the same countries, in our financial institutions, doing absolutely nothing during the same period except inflating stock exchanges and bidding up house prices.

So a mountain of debt and a mountain of idle cash form twin peaks, failing to cancel each other out through the normal operation of the markets. The result is stagnant wages, more than a quarter of 25- to 54-year-olds in America, in Japan and in Europe out of work. And consequently, low aggregate demand, which in a never-ending cycle, reinforces the pessimism of the investors, who, fearing low demand, reproduce it by not investing.

the economic sphere has been colonizing and cannibalizing the political sphere to such an extent that it is undermining itself, causing economic crisis. Corporate power is increasing, political goods are devaluing, inequality is rising, aggregate demand is falling and CEOs of corporations are too scared to invest the cash of their corporations.

So the more capitalism succeeds in taking the demos out of democracy, the taller the twin peaks and the greater the waste of human resources and humanity’s wealth.

I’ve been a fan of TED for years now because it tends to highlight a combination of truth, concern, science, arts, and of course it’s namesake acronym, Technology, Education, and Design (TED).  I like talks that shake me up a big and make me think. This one does that.

The source of this is at the following link: Yanis Varoufakis: Capitalism will eat democracy — unless we speak up.

A Physicist’s Deep-Dive into Who Controls the World Economy

ownership-networks-smallIn this TED talk, physicist James B. Glattfelder looks at who controls the world economy, focusing first on ownership as a complex system. He says, in his introduction:

“We spend billions of dollars trying to understand the origins of the universe while we still don’t understand the conditions for a stable society, a functioning economy, or peace.”

Network Analysis of Economics as a Complex System

He uses analytic techniques from science to look at the ownership of global corporations and control of the economy.

So we started with a database containing 13 million ownership relations from 2007. This is a lot of data, and because we wanted to find out who rules the world, we decided to focus on transnational corporations, or TNCs for short. These are companies that operate in more than one country, and we found 43,000. In the next step, we built the network around these companies, so we took all the TNCs’ shareholders, and the shareholders’ shareholders, etc., all the way upstream, and we did the same downstream, and ended up with a network containing 600,000 nodes and one million links. This is the TNC network which we analyzed.

So he goes from there to control. How much control is how concentrated?

Disturbing data with disturbing conclusions

The talk is from 2012. It looks at the phenomenon of the great recession, the 2008 world financial crisis. But he goes into the underlying structure, and the enormous problems related to concentrated ownership and control in a very few hands.

If you want to compute the flow in an ownership network, this is what you have to do. It’s actually not that hard to understand. Let me explain by giving you this analogy. So think about water flowing in pipes where the pipes have different thickness. So similarly, the control is flowing in the ownership networks and is accumulating at the nodes. So what did we find after computing all this network control? Well, it turns out that the 737 top shareholders have the potential to collectively control 80 percent of the TNCs’ value. Now remember, we started out with 600,000 nodes, so these 737 top players make up a bit more than 0.1 percent. They’re mostly financial institutions in the U.S. and the U.K. And it gets even more extreme. There are 146 top players in the core, and they together have the potential to collectively control 40 percent of the TNCs’ value.

And what does that mean for the long-term stability, and peace, in the world? You decide. First, watch this 13-minute video. And by the way, the original is on the TED site as Who Controls the World.

Two Paradoxical TED Talks Every Business Owner Should Watch

My thanks to Hubspot and post author Mike Whitney for today’s two Friday videos. Whitney included these two in his selection of 4 TED Talks Every Marketer Should Watch, from last year. I want to focus today on these two as not just for marketers, but also essential TED talks for business owners. They go beyond marketing into product and business definition. choice, and business data. Neither of these is new, but both are fundamental, and the contrast is important.

Malcolm Gladwell says trust the data

Whitney included this summary:

[Gladwell] tells the tale of Howard Moskowitz, a consultant who revolutionized the way companies align their product with their brand in the 1970’s and 80’s. There is much to be learned from Moskowitz’ example, especially as told by Gladwell, about how to use data driven buyer personas (sound familiar?) to provide the most possible value to your customer base.

Previous to Moskowitz’ research, companies were in the habit of seeing product development as a linear path towards one ideal item, as perfectly aligned with the desires of their customer base as possible. In order to develop an idea of what those desires were, traditional focus groups were used obsessively, rounding up endless groups of sample-consumers, and simply asking them what they prefer in a product.

Sheena Iyengar says put limits on choosing

Whitney followed that with this one, which he describes as “coming at the same problem from opposite sides of the ideological spectrum.” I like that. It fits my view of how much business is full of paradox and contradiction. Iyengar talks about the “choice overload problem”. The following is from his summary.

As a graduate student, Sheena executed a very interesting experiment with a local grocery store which was noteworthy for having a plethora of different options for all of their different product offerings (75 different olive oils, 348 flavors of jam etc.).

Sheena, though, was curious as to whether this actually promoted revenue or was a hindrance to it. To test this, she got permission from the store manager to set up a ‘Free Samples’ table in the store and do two trial runs: one with 6 options, and one with 24 options. She found that about 20% more people stopped when there were more options.

However, when tallying how many people actually bought a jar of jam as a result of stopping, she found that the table with fewer options was more effective as a marketing tool. Why might this be? This goes back to the choice overload problem. Sheena finds that if a consumer is bombarded with too many options, he/she will often ‘choose not to choose.’ For your business, that means lost revenue.

This is Your Brain on Stories

“The people we are coupled to [meaning talking to, sharing a story with] define who we are.  And our desire to be coupled to another brain is something very basic that starts at a very young age. “

Fascinating research here summarized by neuroscientist Uri Hasson, on how our brains become aligned when we hear the same story. He researches the basis of human communication, and experiments from his lab reveal that even across different languages, our brains show similar activity, or become “aligned,” when we hear the same idea or story.

This amazing neural mechanism allows us to transmit brain patterns, sharing memories and knowledge. “We can communicate because we have a common code that presents meaning,” Hasson says.

This is a 2016 TED talk. I chose it for my Friday video because I’m fascinated by the power of stories, as more true sometimes than truth, because of the way we think.

The source for this one, on the TED site, is http://www.ted.com/talks/uri_hasson_this_is_your_brain_on_communication

Remarkable Real Research on How Life Goals Matter

What? A 75-year-study on adult development? Psychiatrist Robert Waldinger absorbs the Harvard Study on Adult Development. Here he shares insights on how life goals affect happiness, and what ultimately is happiness.

The study itself is remarkable. Waldinger credits luck and the persistence of several generations of researchers. About 60 of the original 600 men are still alive. Since 1938 they – a group of Harvard undergrads and another group of poor kids from Boston – answered questions, took exams, shared their lives with researchers on a regular basis.

So what keeps us happy and healthy as we go through life? Listen to this TED talk.

Click this link for the original on the TED site.

Chris Anderson on What Makes a Great TED Talk

For a video today I found this delightful TED talk about TED talks. TED, which stands for technology, education, and design, has become an amazing collection of great 5-to-20-minute talks, some of the best anywhere. If you want examples of great public speaking, excellent presentations, you go to TED. So when I was at the TED site browsing and saw this one about what makes a great TED talk, I couldn’t resist. And I was surprised, at first, but this makes so much sense.

TED founder Chris Anderson talks about what makes a great TED talk, and it’s not what I would have thought. It’s not the story you share, the secret you disclose, or finishing with an inspiring call to action. “No,” he says …

Your number one task as a speaker is to transfer into your listeners’ minds an extraordinary gift, a strange and beautiful object, that we call an idea.

You can click here for the original on the TED site.

Understand the New World

My Friday video this week in six years old now but still important. This is what is slowly and steadily replacing advertising. Here’s a quote:

There is good news around the corner — really good news. I call it the idea of tribes. What tribes are, is a very simple concept that goes back 50,000 years. It’s about leading and connecting people and ideas. And it’s something that people have wanted forever. Lots of people are used to having a spiritual tribe, or a church tribe, having a work tribe, having a community tribe. But now, thanks to the internet, thanks to the explosion of mass media, thanks to a lot of other things that are bubbling through our society around the world, tribes are everywhere.

Here’s the link to the TED site that hosts this talk: Seth Godin on the Tribes We Lead.

We’re Raising Girls to be Perfect, Boys to be Brave

Friday video, a TED talk, Girls Who Code founder Reshma Saujani is out to change the way the world looks at girls, tech, and girls in tech. Her non-profit Girls Who Code inspires high school girls to study computer science.  She aims to enroll one million women in the program by 2020 — and tech has stepped in to help: Google and Twitter are backers, and engineers at Facebook, AT&T and others have signed on as mentors.  Here’s a quote:

Most girls are taught to avoid risk and failure. We’re taught to smile pretty, play it safe, get all A’s. Boys, on the other hand, are taught to play rough, swing high, crawl to the top of the monkey bars and then just jump off headfirst. And by the time they’re adults, whether they’re negotiating a raise or even asking someone out on a date, they’re habituated to take risk after risk. They’re rewarded for it. It’s often said in Silicon Valley, no one even takes you seriously unless you’ve had two failed start-ups. In other words, we’re raising our girls to be perfect, and we’re raising our boys to be brave.

For the original on the TED site: http://www.ted.com/talks/reshma_saujani_teach_girls_bravery_not_perfection


How to Fix the USA: Excellent TED Talk

If you’re a citizen of the USA you should spend the minutes to listed to to Lawrence Lessig’s TED talk, “We the people and the republic we must reclaim.” This is completely bipartisan, spans liberals and conservatives, and addresses problems that affect all of us, regardless of views on any specific issue. 

I’m embedding it here, but if you don’t see it, please click this link to watch it on YouTube instead.