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Review: The Future We Will Create – Inside the World of TED

June 28, 2007

Forgive the lateness! This review was originally intended to be my “TED Wednesday” but sometimes technology conspires against you (especially when Mercury is in retrograde).

In the meantime, enjoy. . .


Giving up on the future is so easy. Far too easy.

However, giving up hope is not the wave of the future. . .

At this point, the world knows about Al Gore‘s impassioned presentation that became the centerpiece of the Academy Award winning documentary, An Inconvenient Truth. Millions and millions of us are aware of The ONE Campaign, Bono‘s campaign to end poverty in Africa. But what you may not realize is that each of these rose from the yearly Technology, Entertainment & Design conference, a gathering of some of the world’s most exciting and passionate minds: The world’s true rock stars.

The Future We Will Create: Inside the World of TED is an exciting and uplifting account of the 2006 TED conference, where thinkers, speakers and doers of all
gathered in support of humanity’s future. Filmmakers Steven Latham and Daphne Zuniga created an engaging film which sits back and lets the ideas and people speak for themselves.

Dr. Hans Rosling opens our eyes to the common misconceptions about the Third World via a powerful visualization tool. Jeff Han demonstrates the exciting future of computing as it prepares to interface with human touch. Stew assures us, “Black Men Ski” while Amy Smith explains how cooking fuel necessary for survival in the developing world, is the number one cause of death in children under five.

Perhaps where the documentary demonstrates TED’s greatest promise is in the introduction of 2006’s TED prize winners. The yearly TED Prizes are similar to the Macarthur “Genius” grants, and despite a prize of $100,000 for a program, the ultimate prize is fulfillment of a recipient’s wish. A wish that ultimately serves the whole of humanity.

Filmmaker Jehane Noujaim, Writer, Director and Producer of 2004’s Control Room sought the opportunity to create a global cultural experience through the communal experience of film-going. Epidemiologist and health care activist, Dr. Lawrence Brilliant, describes his wish to use the Internet and modern day communications technology to develop an early warning system for the next pandemic.

The TED Filmdoes a good job illustrating that while many of the ideas may seem esoteric, they are far from dry. The film also sends the powerful and important message that heroes are not only all around us, but they are constantly dreaming up extraordinary solutions to some of the world’s most alarming challenges.

At the end of the film, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the opportunities each and every one of us have to contribute to global solutions, things greater than ourselves. Perhaps some might argue that the people who seem to get the most done, are the Bonos, the Bill Gates and George Soroses of the world; Voices of those with a podium in the public spotlight.

Majora Carter would probably beg to differ with you.

After being led by her dog on a walk around the over-burdened and decaying South Bronx, she found herself being taken down a path which would lead her and others in the creation of a re-vitalized public space. That story, is just the beginning, and you’ll have to take a look at the film to learn what happens afterwards.

As you watch this film, you’ll realize not only the way people are stepping up to change the world, but the diversity of people and ideas all aspiring toward that common goal. At the TED conferences, people whose voices might more likely be heard debating one another, are instead presented to offer perspective and options. If we look closely there are lessons to be learned from all of these people. The opportunities to take part and change the world are all around us. Choosing hope may seem like the biggest challenge of all, but those first steps are always the hardest.

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