Sat, Aug 31, 2013 - Page 9 News List

Guide to the most-watched talks online

Before the Internet became so widely available, the privilege of seeing thinkers of our age explain their ideas was confined to city dwellers with time and money. Now there is broad access to a vast body of ideas

By Tom Meltzer  /  The Guardian, LONDON

Is she right? She is. The talk is light on evidence, but rich with authority.

Highlight: Her account of the effects of shame on health.

Use this knowledge to: Dance like someone is watching; love like you will be hurt; sing like everyone is listening.

We need to talk about an injustice

Who is talking? Bryan Stevenson, a public interest lawyer and the founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative.

What is he on about? The need for drastic reform to the US criminal justice system.

Is he right? The facts are hard to argue with. For example: The US has the highest rate of incarceration in the world, with 2.3 million people in prison, and one in three black men in the US aged 18 to 30 is in prison or on probation or parole.

Highlight: “The moral arc of this universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”

Use this knowledge to: Change the world; chastise Americans; check your privilege.

The art of asking

Who is talking? Singer, songwriter and musician Amanda Palmer.

What is she on about? The willingness of fans to pay for music if you ask them to do so. She suggests the music industry should not ask: “How do we make people pay for music?” but instead “How do we let people pay for music?”

Is she right? Well, it worked for her. The talk is mostly about Palmer’s own success with crowdfunding.

Highlight: The moment the audience realizes just how successful her fan-funded approach has been.

Use this knowledge to: Bypass record labels; make great art; crowdsource your mortgage.

The myth of the gay agenda

Who is talking? Sports journalist and gay rights activist L.Z. Granderson.

What is he on about? The ludicrous notion that there is a “gay lifestyle,” let alone a “gay agenda.” Granderson argues the entire gay agenda is there in the US constitution: the demand to be treated as equal citizens. He also points out that in some US states a landlord can evict their tenants — and a boss can fire their employees — for being gay.

Is he right? Obviously.

Highlight: The bit where he has a lightsaber.

Use this knowledge to: Get mad; get equal.

Brilliant designs to fit more people in every city

Who is talking? Architect and designer Kent Larson.

What is he on about? The need for the cities of the future to make more efficient use of space. He calls it “a global imperative.”

Is he right? Yes. It is a pretty uncontroversial thesis. Larson’s talk goes further and shows off some of the technology that might address the problem.

Highlight: That cool new tech: A folding car designed for shared use; an electronic three-wheeled bike; and a two-room apartment that functions like a five-bed town house using transformable multipurpose furniture.

Use this knowledge to: Prepare for the future; feel better about your tiny flat.

Shaking hands with death

Who is talking? Discworld author Terry Pratchett, via actor Tony Robinson.

What is he on about? The right to die on one’s own terms. Pratchett’s moving speech addresses the arguments against assisted dying one by one, subjecting each to a sharp satirical examination.

Is he right? As Pratchett puts it: “I believe that consensual assisted death for those that ask for it is quite hard to oppose.” After watching this, it is even harder.

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