I just realized a few days ago that the Ted Talks are available as podcasts. I knew you could watch on the web but this is even better. They have two feeds, one for audio and one for video (links below). In case you don’t know, TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design. It’s an annual conference that brings together a bunch of people to give short (under 20 minute) speeches on various topics. That’s not the greatest description of TED ever, but I’m kind of assuming if you read my blog you’re pretty geeky, in to science, and probably know what TED is.
Not all of the talks really work in audio format because they have slide shows or something else you need to see. If you just listen to the Bill Gates talk, “How I’m trying to change the world now” you’ll miss the famous mosquito incident. In Hans Rosling’s talk, “Debunking third-world myths with the best stats you’ve ever seen” you really need to see his excellent slide show, and the enthusiasm with which he presents it. (Note: I’ve never said, “excellent slide show” before and don’t plan on ever saying it again, but this one was pretty cool.)
There are two talks I heard yesterday that work fine in audio and are really worth hearing. Stanford professor and ant biologist Deborah Gordon shares some amazing facts she’s learned about ant behavior in, “How do ants know what to do?” And Editor in Chief of the Oxford American Dictionary Erin McKean gives a talk called, “Redefining the dictionary” that I suspect people reading this blog would enjoy.
Not all Ted Talks are technical or scientific. A few funny ones worth hearing are “John Hodgman: A brief digression on matters of lost time” and short concert by They Might Be Giants, “Wake up! It’s They Might Be Giants.” You don’t need to see those, unless you’ve never seen TMBG and want to know what they look like. If you’ve never seen John Hodgman (PC in the Mac ads) you don’t own a TV.
There are over 200 talks online so far, and I’m just scratching the surface. I’ll probably do another entry in a few weeks highlighting some more talks.
The talks are released under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works license.
Links for your podcatcher: