delicious Zeitgeist (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Posted in delicious, netedu | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

TEDActive 2015: A Record

I am very late, I know. I was at TEDActive 2015 in mid March and it’s only now that I’m publishing a note of that experience! Still, I also mixed up a video of the trip and conference that I’d like to share. It was a terrific experience. Here is why.

So I found myself in Whistler (Canada), attending TEDActive, the minor version -or that with the most fun- of the famed TED. At 10:30 pm in the night of my arrival, after the first session (the Opening Gambit) and a welcome party with oysters from both coasts of Canada, I am still to decompress from air fatigue. Three flights plus a three-hour bus drive are not easy, even though the scenery is unrivaled: a coastal route with the mountains approaching, no snow.

Then, the opening, a feast of talks and performances which take fully the brain. A diary book to take notes makes me all the more attentive to all was being said or played.

The excitation of TEDsters -the TED people are varied and come from almost 60 different countries, but all are excited and anxious and the most are repeat participants- is palpable.

There’s a festival atmosphere, the kermesse of interdisciplinary, edge talks is about to begin. How -I wonder- did all this people manage to pay the fee plus travel expenses? They seem pretty young, an age where usually you don’t get sent to expensive conferences at the antipodes.

Some host talks about revolution. Which revolution?

Then, on the Triumph March of Aida starts the kermesse. Live from Vancouver starts Chris Anderson, the chief “curator” –whatever that means, he says– and his mannerism introduces ideas and people pushing ideas.

Because the central tenet of TED is that ideas change people and consequently the world. Ideas. So, we are brought to believe that we play a special role into that equation. We can start with ideas and change the world. Why the world needs changing is explained in the talks themselves.

The setting is fantastic. The food and attention of the many hostesses is superlative, awesome. You sense female hormones in the air. The talks are the best illusion one can have that yes, we can still change the world with some pragmatic work. A self-referential system, it seems –some have compared it to a secular church.

Yet, the magic happens, and you feel through the pulse of the many TEDActive repeat participants. Every session is so well curated and so well presented there is little left to do except get submerged by its waves. This is the most lively part, the sessions. They say here in Whistler it is more fun than in Vancouver, the ambiance more liberal and young. But, the people invited here are all among the best humankind has to offer in so many disciplines, apparently distanced but all connected. Yes, this is the equivalent of Liberal Arts education. Or, of a liberal magazine: many diverse themes, subjects, with but one thing in common, namely human ingenuity and a benevolent, positive belief in the good nature of humankind. Naif? This is what I asked as we got started in day two, the first day with a full program. What will happen next? I asked myself. Will there be a consequence to all this good-will thought?

Who knows. Perhaps, exactly like with a Liberal Arts education, as convinced as we are that its wide broad approach will enlighten the mind, people will return home thinking they are starting a revolution -while in their pajamas.

But perhaps, beyond the naivete, there is something profoundly true (and rhetorical as well) in all this, like it happened to me while listening to a deep resounding talk on consciousness, or another talk about a champion woman, born man, who not only changed gender but founded Sirius XM satellite radio and saved the life of her daughter by acquiring the rights to produce the only medicine available –and earning millions in the process. She talks also about the quest for immortality.

“I love my dad and she loves me!” — she quotes her daughter as saying. “I will always be my daughter’s father, she continues. Mind-blowing, I was moved.

In all, the festival feels like a grand tour of Europe’s big cities in ten days. In the end you are overwhelmed and do not distinguish nor recollect anything substantial. Since, remember, you are not educated in the subjects presented, so you experience a overindulgence of information absorption, and you end the day with some confusion. But you end the day with a couple of ideas to bring back home. And that’s very valuable.

All this in a rich environment, sensory as well as cognitive. You get fed great food, great gifts and a general sense of luxury, of no limits posed by material means. Even if you do not bring home any special idea to implement, your mind was still exposed to a few ideas that will stay with you, and that perhaps will trigger something.

Thus, with great ceremony, I end my second day with a splendid jazz rendition of a tune by an Indonesian adolescent gifted pianist, Joey Alexander. The title is “Over the Rainbow”. So I go to sleep without being able to forget that we are in a splendid, bourgeois bubble within which we suspend incredulity and we end believing the tale of being able to change the world, or, in any case, to do something about it. Which in a way is exactly what one should do –remember Galeano’s idea of utopia? Utopia is what makes us walk forward.

And I go to sleep without forgetting that many TEDsters are out skating or lip-synching or partying in the night, while, admittedly, I am completely wiped out mentally and physically.

The days go by quickly; the atmosphere is very open, dialogues sprout easily. Neri Oxman from MIT talks about dresses that grow organically, and leaves one wondering if this is pure madness; Elora Hardy, an architect working out of Bali shows her buildings made exclusively out of bamboo –but stumbles when admits noises and smells creep out of bathrooms with bamboo walls and she hasn’t been able yet to solve the problem.

I’d say, putting the bathroom out of the middle of the living room may help. A short video shows 50’s-style dancing made current –it’s an addictive video to me!

 

Great people follow greater people in the madly endless sequence devised by the curators. Dave Isay wins the TED Prize for his long-standing StoryCorps project, a fantastic initiative to preserve the “important stories of our life” by recording interviews with people that matter for each. At some point I ask myself whether I can withstand such a cognitive overload. Monika Lewinski makes a grand return when she talks about cyber-bullying and the big mistake she made when she fell in love with her boss. And so on, there’s a book with some 70 bios for the major speakers only. I fill it with notes.

I end up my five-day retreat in this festival of ideas and people going back to Vancouver and to my three-flight-plus-bus way back home, with a lot in my mind. It has been a retreat, because, in the Whistler bubble, I have been able to think almost only about ideas –those presented, those unsaid, and also those which lurk in the shadow. It was a festival because of the feast of ideas and the show of ideas. Also, it was a party of ideas and the people who think and act upon them. I have now the chance to organize my next TEDx for more than one hundred souls, and yes, I understand the concept and the people behind it much, much better. And I already am thinking of coming back.

 

 

Posted in education, events | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Life, Movie-making and Basket-weaving according to Woody Allen

My reflection of the day, from Woody Allen.

Emma Stone and Woody Allen. Photograph: TRISTAN FEWINGS / POOL/EPA

We’re all gonna wind up in a very bad position one day sooner or later. The only way to deal with it as an artist is to try to come up with something to explain to people why life is worth living. You can’t really do that without conning them because in the end it has no meaning. Everything you create or do is going to vanish. The sun is burning out and the universe will be gone. Everything that Shakespeare or Beethoven created will all be gone no matter how much we cherish it. So it’s very hard to sell people a bill of goods that there’s any good to this.

Movie-making is like giving inmates in an institution basket-weaving. It keeps you occupied.

Quotes reported from a Guardian interview while Woody Allen presented his last movie (Irrational Man) at Cannes Film Festival.

Posted in philosophic-discourse | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Let the Force be with You, Josif.

Superheroes and Super Villains in Old War Photos, by Agan Harahap.

From the work of Agan Harahap, who “has taken classic movie and comic book characters out of the realm of fantasy and placed them in the even grittier realm of real history.” Read the article on http://twentytwowords.com/superheroes-and-super-villains-i…/ and visit his photo set on Flickr for more info on most these pics…: http://www.flickr.com/…/31199746@N02/sets/72157622452249309/

Posted in foto, media | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

The Article That Was Not

The following passage did not exist until now. Yet, it always existed, and even more, it has always been existing in the virtual Library of Babel. This is the realm of all possible books ever written and yet to be written. Of all possible remedies, cures, theorems, poems, novels, papers, news happened and news yet to happen. This is the passage which is being written **now** and yet always existed.

The Article That Was Not

I never completed this little article I was writing on the virtual Library of Babel.  Fact is,  I had read a genial review on The Guardian and began thinking. How fun, to have potentially all things the human mind can produce, before they get produced. The truths and falsehoods, the theorems, the cures, all the poems ever to be written. Even this piece, considering it is not even finished nor published.

This is the result of a serch for such passage in the Virtual Library of Babel.
screenshotThis is written on Volume 16 on Shelf 2 of Wall 2 (of a numbered Hexagon), at page 115 (of 410 —all volumes have equal length). And the passage is written there and has always been written since the beginning of time. For such is the Library of Babel. Of course, such discourse hath a Web URL: http://libraryofbabel.info/bookmark.cgi?thearticlethatwasnot

Screen Shot 2015-05-04 at 3.13.19 PMNow, it occurs to me to have another try, this time searching for something classical:

Screen Shot 2015-05-04 at 3.20.45 PMhttp://libraryofbabel.info/bookmark.cgi?nelmezzodelcammin

[The book you were reading was Volume 19 on Shelf 2 of Wall 2 of Hexagon …. (page 115)]

But Dante could not know —nor conceive that I would (750 years after his birth) modify just the last word of each of the first five verses. What if this work too was already writ in stone (or in software)??

Screen Shot 2015-05-04 at 3.37.19 PMPoor Dante, this is sacrilege. But here, in this url will your soul find such apocryphal verse: http://libraryofbabel.info/bookmark.cgi?nelmezzo2 which thou can find in Volume 29 (Page 31), on Shelf 3, in Wall 4 of (some) Hexagon.

 Screen Shot 2015-05-04 at 3.44.40 PM

El universo (que otros llaman la Biblioteca) se compone de un número indefinido, y tal vez infinito, de galerías hexagonales.

The universe (which others call the Library) is composed of an indefinite, perhaps infinite number of hexagonal galleries.

This thoughts have been inspired by an article appeared on The Guardian (4 May 2015): Virtual Library of Babel makes Borges’s infinite store of books a reality – almost, by Alison Flood.

“To take a recent example, the confidential documents leaked by Edward Snowden … will be there somewhere. It’s only a matter of knowing where to look for them.”

The article itself, written 74 years later than Borges’ tale, is of course on the Virtual Library of Babel, http://libraryofbabel.info/bookmark.cgi?virtual_library_of_babel_makes), while The Tale that spun off everything is at http://libraryofbabel.info/bookmark.cgi?la_biblioteca_de_babel.

Creators

“libraryofbabel.info is the creation of Jonathan Basile, along with the help of many friends and family. I was drawn to the idea by an interest in literature and iterability, which I suppose I might as well call iterature. I hope you find the library aids your meditations, and please let me know via the forum or email (jonathan [dot] e [dot] basile [at] gmail [dot] com) what thoughts it brings. Building the library has given me a great desire to permute, and I continue to seek other venues in which to undermine rational discourse, such as the Permuda Triangle.”

“If completed, the Library of Babel would contain every possible combination of 1,312,000 characters, including lower case letters, space, comma, and period. Thus, it would contain every book that ever has been written, and every book that ever could be – including every play, every song, every scientific paper, every legal decision, every constitution, every piece of scripture, and so on. At present it contains all possible pages of 3200 characters, about 104677 books.”

Which one wouldn’t hope to finish reading before the sun has eaten out the Earth.

Posted in books, nonsense | Tagged , , | Leave a comment