If I have to organize a TEDx event, which are the five videos I will choose to show? Here are my choices, ranging from topics in social media, social entrepreneurship, education, culture and economics. Other than attaching the abstracts, I have also included my own thoughts on why I like about these TED videos. Of one that I hope that all Singaporeans should be watching is the talk by Alain de Botton. If you want to learn more about our changing world, here are just the five videos which are likely to inspire you.
1. Alain de Botton, A kinder, gentler philosophy of success: He examines our ideas of success and failure — and questions the assumptions underlying these two judgments. Is success always earned? Is failure? He makes an eloquent, witty case to move beyond snobbery to find true pleasure in our work.
My Thoughts: I have read two books by Alain de Botton, namely “The Consolations of Philosophy” in examining how we can seek guidance and solace in living our lives with philosophical thought and “Status Anxiety”, in reflecting how hard we want recognition and fame that we forget about living our lives happily. In this talk, one thing I really liked about is his interpretation of meritocracy, which is relevant to people who are living in Singapore. I personally think that this video should be screened to everyone studying in Singapore so that they know that there is more to life than just academic success.
2. Clay Shirky, How Social Media can make History: While news from Iran streams to the world, he shows how Facebook, Twitter and TXTs help citizens in repressive regimes to report on real news, bypassing censors (however briefly). The end of top-down control of news is changing the nature of politics.
My Thoughts: This talk exemplifies the power of social media and with modern technologies (YouTube, Twitter) and social practices, everyone can find out in real time how major events are shaping the human civilization everyday.
3. Dan Ariely, On our buggy moral code: Behavioral economist Dan Ariely studies the bugs in our moral code: the hidden reasons we think it’s OK to cheat or steal (sometimes). Clever studies help make his point that we’re predictably irrational — and can be influenced in ways we can’t grasp.
My thoughts: His talk inspired me to read his book “Predictably Irrational”, a good exposition on how people may make decisions that creates a systematic bias in the economic landscape.
4. Sir Ken Robin, How School Kills Creativity: He makes an entertaining and profoundly moving case for creating an education system that nurtures (rather than undermines) creativity.
My Thoughts: Our schools to universities are transforming into becoming factories to churn out people but not teaching them the skills to be able to live their life. It often made me think about what I gained out of my PhD. My PhD is not just for me to use theoretical physics to find out whether there are ways to show thru the cosmic microwave background radiation experiments that extra dimensions exist. Instead, it gave me the tools and skills to dissect in every area I published and present a consistent and coherent framework to look at multi-disciplinary problems.
5. Jacqueline Novogratz, Invests in ending poverty: She applauds the world’s heightened interest in Africa and poverty, but argues persuasively for a new approach.
My thoughts: I am never a fan of Bono’s type of activism on Africa and I think social entrepreneurship is the way to go, with sustainable business models that can guide Africa out of poverty. My view of resolving poverty is always not feeding the people with fish, but teaching people how to fish.
I hope that you will enjoy this 5 videos and extend, spread and share with your friends all around the world.