Wireless data from every light bulb
What if every light bulb in the world could also transmit data? At TEDGlobal, Harald Haas demonstrates, for the first time, a device that could do exactly that. By flickering the light from a single LED, a change too quick for the human eye to detect, he can transmit far more data than a cellular tower -- and do it in a way that's more efficient, secure and widespread
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A garden in my apartment
Britta Riley wanted to grow her own food (in her tiny apartment). So she and her friends developed a system for growing plants in discarded plastic bottles -- researching, testing and tweaking the system using social media, trying many variations at once and quickly arriving at the optimal system. Call it distributed DIY. And the results? Delicious.
Before I die I want to...
In her New Orleans neighborhood, artist and TED Fellow Candy Chang turned an abandoned house into a giant chalkboard asking a fill-in-the-blank question: “Before I die I want to ___.” Her neighbors' answers -- surprising, poignant, funny -- became an unexpected mirror for the community. (What's your answer?)
Abundance is our future
Onstage at TED2012, Peter Diamandis makes a case for optimism -- that we'll invent, innovate and create ways to solve the challenges that loom over us. "I’m not saying we don’t have our set of problems; we surely do. But ultimately, we knock them down.”
3 warp-speed architecture tales
Danish architect Bjarke Ingels rockets through photo/video-mingled stories of his eco-flashy designs. His buildings not only look like nature -- they act like nature: blocking the wind, collecting solar energy -- and creating stunning views.
How bad architecture wrecked cities
In James Howard Kunstler's view, public spaces should be inspired centers of civic life and the physical manifestation of the common good. Instead, he argues, what we have in America is a nation of places not worth caring about.
The Earth is full
Have we used up all our resources? Have we filled up all the livable space on Earth? Paul Gilding suggests we have, and the possibility of devastating consequences, in a talk that's equal parts terrifying and, oddly, hopeful.
Cradle to cradle design
Green-minded architect and designer William McDonough asks what our buildings and products would look like if designers took into account "all children, all species, for all time."
Kamal Meattle on how to grow fresh air
Researcher Kamal Meattle shows how an arrangement of three common houseplants, used in specific spots in a home or office building, can result in measurably cleaner indoor air.
The 4 ways sound affects us
Playing sound effects both pleasant and awful, Julian Treasure shows how sound affects us in four significant ways. Listen carefully for a shocking fact about noisy open-plan offices.
Globalizing the local, localizing the global
Sheikha Al Mayassa, a patron of artists, storytellers and filmmakers in Qatar, talks about how art and culture create a country's identity -- and allow every country to share its unique identity with the wider world. As she says: "We don't want to be all the same, but we do want to understand each other."
Creative houses from reclaimed stuff
In this funny and insightful talk from TEDxHouston, builder Dan Phillips tours us through a dozen homes he's built in Texas using recycled and reclaimed materials in wildly creative ways. Brilliant, low-tech design details will refresh your own creative drive.
The case for collaborative consumption
At TEDxSydney, Rachel Botsman says we're "wired to share" -- and shows how websites like Zipcar and Swaptree are changing the rules of human behavior.
How to reinvent the apartment building
In 1967, Moshe Safdie reimagined the monolithic apartment building, creating “Habitat ’67,” which gave each unit an unprecedented sense of openness. Nearly 50 years later, he believes the need for this type of building is greater than ever. In this short talk, Safdie surveys a range of projects that do away with the high-rise and let light permeate into densely-packed
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Uber's plan to get more people into fewer cars
Uber didn't start out with grand ambitions to cut congestion and pollution. But as the company took off, co-founder Travis Kalanick wondered if there was a way to get people using Uber along the same routes to share rides, reducing costs and carbon footprint along the way. The result: uberPOOL, the company's carpooling service, which in its first eight months took 7.9
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Transition to a world without oil
Rob Hopkins reminds us that the oil our world depends on is steadily running out. He proposes a unique solution to this problem -- the Transition response, where we prepare ourselves for life without oil and sacrifice our luxuries to build systems and communities that are completely independent of fossil fuels.
Ingenious homes in unexpected places
In the center of Caracas, Venezuela, stands the 45-story "Tower of David," an unfinished, abandoned skyscraper. But about eight years ago, people started moving in. Photographer Iwan Baan shows how people build homes in unlikely places, touring us through the family apartments of Torre David, a city on the water in Nigeria, and an underground village in China.
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Miru Kim's underground art
At the 2008 EG Conference, artist Miru Kim talks about her work. Kim explores industrial ruins underneath New York and then photographs herself in them, nude -- to bring these massive, dangerous, hidden spaces into sharp focus.
Sugata Mitra shows how kids teach themselves
Speaking at LIFT 2007, Sugata Mitra talks about his Hole in the Wall project. Young kids in this project figured out how to use a PC on their own -- and then taught other kids. He asks, what else can children teach themselves?
Let the environment guide our development
Human growth has strained the Earth's resources, but as Johan Rockstrom reminds us, our advances also give us the science to recognize this and change behavior. His research has found nine "planetary boundaries" that can guide us in protecting our planet's many overlapping ecosystems.
How painting can transform communities
Artists Jeroen Koolhaas and Dre Urhahn create community art by painting entire neighborhoods, and involving those who live there — from the favelas of Rio to the streets of North Philadelphia. What's made their projects succeed? In this funny and inspiring talk, the artists explain their art-first approach — and the importance of a neighborhood barbecue.
How food shapes our cities
Every day, in a city the size of London, 30 million meals are served. But where does all the food come from? Architect Carolyn Steel discusses the daily miracle of feeding a city, and shows how ancient food routes shaped the modern world.
Greening the ghetto
In an emotionally charged talk, MacArthur-winning activist Majora Carter details her fight for environmental justice in the South Bronx -- and shows how minority neighborhoods suffer most from flawed urban policy.
Why the world needs charter cities
How can a struggling country break out of poverty if it's trapped in a system of bad rules? Economist Paul Romer unveils a bold idea: "charter cities," city-scale administrative zones governed by a coalition of nations. (Could Guantánamo Bay become the next Hong Kong?)
Why buses represent democracy in action
"An advanced city is not one where even the poor use cars, but rather one where even the rich use public transport," argues Enrique Peñalosa. In this spirited talk, the former mayor of Bogotá shares some of the tactics he used to change the transportation dynamic in the Colombian capital... and suggests ways to think about building smart cities of the future.
The surprising math of cities and corporations
Physicist Geoffrey West has found that simple, mathematical laws govern the properties of cities -- that wealth, crime rate, walking speed and many other aspects of a city can be deduced from a single number: the city's population. In this mind-bending talk from TEDGlobal he shows how it works and how similar laws hold for organisms and corporations.
Buildings that blend nature and city
A skyscraper that channels the breeze ... a building that creates community around a hearth ... Jeanne Gang uses architecture to build relationships. In this engaging tour of her work, Gang invites us into buildings large and small, from a surprising local community center to a landmark Chicago skyscraper. "Through architecture, we can do much more than create
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A country with no water
Imagine a country with abundant power -- oil and gas, sunshine, wind (and money) -- but missing one key essential for life: water. Infrastructure engineer Fahad Al-Attiya talks about the unexpected ways that the small Middle Eastern nation of Qatar creates its water supply.
Social experiments to fight poverty
Alleviating poverty is more guesswork than science, and lack of data on aid's impact raises questions about how to provide it. But Clark Medal-winner Esther Duflo says it's possible to know which development efforts help and which hurt -- by testing solutions with randomized trials.
David Macaulay's Rome Antics
David Macaulay relives the winding and sometimes surreal journey toward the completion of Rome Antics, his illustrated homage to the historic city.
What happens when a city runs out of room for its dead
"If you want to go out and start your own cemetery" in the UK, says Alison Killing, "you kind of can." She thinks a lot about where we die and are buried — and in this talk, the architect and TED Fellow offers an eye-opening economic and social perspective on an overlooked feature of our towns and cities: the cemetery. Speaking specifically to UK laws, she unpacks the
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Accepting his 2005 TED Prize, photographer Edward Burtynsky makes a wish: that his images -- stunning landscapes that document humanity's impact on the world -- help persuade millions to join a global conversation on sustainability.
Playing with space and light
In the spectacular large-scale projects he's famous for (such as "Waterfalls" in New York harbor), Olafur Eliasson creates art from a palette of space, distance, color and light. This idea-packed talk begins with an experiment in the nature of perception.
Taking imagination seriously
Janet Echelman found her true voice as an artist when her paints went missing -- which forced her to look to an unorthodox new art material. Now she makes billowing, flowing, building-sized sculpture with a surprisingly geeky edge. A transporting 10 minutes of pure creativity.
Brilliant designs to fit more people in every city
How can we fit more people into cities without overcrowding? Kent Larson shows off folding cars, quick-change apartments and other innovations that could make the city of the future work a lot like a small village of the past.
Coding a better government
Can government be run like the Internet, permissionless and open? Coder and activist Jennifer Pahlka believes it can -- and that apps, built quickly and cheaply, are a powerful new way to connect citizens to their governments -- and their neighbors.
Mapping apps help us find the fastest route to where we’re going. But what if we’d rather wander? Researcher Daniele Quercia demos “happy maps” that take into account not only the route you want to take, but how you want to feel along the way.
Daniel Libeskind's 17 words of architectural inspiration
Daniel Libeskind builds on very big ideas. Here, he shares 17 words that underlie his vision for architecture -- raw, risky, emotional, radical -- and that offer inspiration for any bold creative pursuit.
New York's streets? Not so mean any more
In this funny and thought-provoking talk, Janette Sadik-Khan, transportation commissioner of New York City, shares projects that have reshaped street life in the 5 boroughs, including pedestrian zones in Times Square, high-performance buses and a 6,000-cycle-strong bike share. Her mantra: Do bold experiments that are cheap to try out.
Why good hackers make good citizens
Hacking is about more than mischief-making or political subversion. As Catherine Bracy describes in this spirited talk, it can be just as much a force for good as it is for evil. She spins through some inspiring civically-minded projects in Honolulu, Oakland and Mexico City — and makes a compelling case that we all have what it takes to get involved.
Architecture that senses and responds
With his team at SENSEable City Lab, MIT's Carlo Ratti makes cool things by sensing the data we create. He pulls from passive data sets -- like the calls we make, the garbage we throw away -- to create surprising visualizations of city life. And he and his team create dazzling interactive environments from moving water and flying light, powered by simple gestures
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Norman Foster's green agenda
Architect Norman Foster discusses his own work to show how computers can help architects design buildings that are green, beautiful and "basically pollution-free." From the 2007 DLD Conference, Munich; www.dld-conference.com
Social maps that reveal a city's intersections — and separations
Every city has its neighborhoods, cliques and clubs, the hidden lines that join and divide people in the same town. What can we learn about cities by looking at what people share online? Starting with his own home town of Baltimore, Dave Troy has been visualizing what the tweets of city dwellers reveal about who lives there, who they talk to — and who they don’t.
There’s a better way to die, and architecture can help
In this short, provocative talk, architect Alison Killing looks at buildings where death and dying happen — cemeteries, hospitals, homes. The way we die is changing, and the way we build for dying ... well, maybe that should too. It's a surprisingly fascinating look at a hidden aspect of our cities, and our lives.
Education innovation in the slums
Charles Leadbeater went looking for radical new forms of education -- and found them in the slums of Rio and Kibera, where some of the world's poorest kids are finding transformative new ways to learn. And this informal, disruptive new kind of school, he says, is what all schools need to become.
How an old loop of railroads is changing the face of a city
Urban planner Ryan Gravel shares the story of how his hometown of Atlanta, Georgia, rallied to build a massive urban park that will transform an abandoned railroad track into 22 miles of public green space called the Atlanta BeltLine. The places we live aren't inevitable, he says — and if we want something different, we need to speak up.
Thom Mayne on architecture as connection
Architect Thom Mayne has never been one to take the easy option, and this whistle-stop tour of the buildings he's created makes you glad for it. These are big ideas cast in material form.
America's forgotten working class
J.D. Vance grew up in a small, poor city in the Rust Belt of southern Ohio, where he had a front-row seat to many of the social ills plaguing America: a heroin epidemic, failing schools, families torn apart by divorce and sometimes violence. In a searching talk that will echo throughout the country's working-class towns, the author details what the loss of the
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Steven Johnson tours the Ghost Map
Author Steven Johnson takes us on a 10-minute tour of The Ghost Map, his book about a cholera outbreak in 1854 London and the impact it had on science, cities and modern society.
Your health depends on where you live
Where you live: It impacts your health as much as diet and genes do, but it's not part of your medical records. At TEDMED, Bill Davenhall shows how overlooked government geo-data (from local heart-attack rates to toxic dumpsite info) can mesh with mobile GPS apps to keep doctors in the loop. Call it "geo-medicine."
The 4 commandments of cities
Eduardo Paes is the mayor of Rio de Janeiro, a sprawling, complicated, beautiful city of 6.5 million. He shares four big ideas about leading Rio -- and all cities -- into the future, including bold (and do-able) infrastructure upgrades and how to make a city "smarter."
The power of the informal economy
Robert Neuwirth spent four years among the chaotic stalls of street markets, talking to pushcart hawkers and gray marketers, to study the remarkable "System D," the world's unlicensed economic network. Responsible for some 1.8 billion jobs, it's an economy of underappreciated power and scope.
A future beyond traffic gridlock
Bill Ford is a car guy -- his great-grandfather was Henry Ford, and he grew up inside the massive Ford Motor Co. So when he worries about cars' impact on the environment, and about our growing global gridlock problem, it's worth a listen. His vision for the future of mobility includes "smart roads," even smarter public transport and going green like never before.
It’s our city. Let’s fix it
Too often, people feel checked out of politics — even at the level of their own city. But urban activist Alessandra Orofino thinks that can change, using a mix of tech and old-fashioned human connection. Sharing examples from her hometown of Rio, she says: "It is up to us to decide whether we want schools or parking lots, recycling projects or construction sites, cars
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We are makers
America was built by makers -- curious, enthusiastic amateur inventors whose tinkering habit sparked whole new industries. At TED@MotorCity, MAKE magazine publisher Dale Dougherty says we're all makers at heart, and shows cool new tools to tinker with, like Arduinos, affordable 3D printers, even DIY satellites.
How I brought a river, and my city, back to life
The Fez River winds through the medina of Fez, Morocco—a mazelike medieval city that’s a World Heritage site. Once considered the “soul” of this celebrated city, the river succumbed to sewage and pollution, and in the 1950s was covered over bit by bit until nothing remained. TED Fellow Aziza Chaouni recounts her 20 year effort to restore this river to its former glory
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Building a park in the sky
New York was planning to tear down the High Line, an abandoned elevated railroad in Manhattan, when Robert Hammond and a few friends suggested: Why not make it a park? He shares how it happened in this tale of local cultural activism.
The shareable future of cities
How can cities help save the future? Alex Steffen shows some cool neighborhood-based green projects that expand our access to things we want and need -- while reducing the time we spend in cars.
Jaime Lerner sings of the city
Jaime Lerner reinvented urban space in his native Curitiba, Brazil. Along the way, he changed the way city planners worldwide see what’s possible in the metropolitan landscape.
Take back your city with paint
Make a city beautiful, curb corruption. Edi Rama took this deceptively simple path as mayor of Tirana, Albania, where he instilled pride in his citizens by transforming public spaces with colorful designs. With projects that put the people first, Rama decreased crime -- and showed his citizens they could have faith in their leaders. (Filmed at TEDxThessaloniki.)
Robert Neuwirth on our "shadow cities"
Robert Neuwirth, author of "Shadow Cities," finds the world’s squatter sites -- where a billion people now make their homes -- to be thriving centers of ingenuity and innovation. He takes us on a tour.
A giant bubble for debate
How do you make a great public space inside a not-so-great building? Liz Diller shares the story of creating a welcoming, lighthearted (even, dare we say it, sexy) addition to the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, DC. (From The Design Studio session at TED2012, guest-curated by Chee Pearlman and David Rockwell.)
The world's first charter city?
Back in 2009, Paul Romer unveiled the idea for a "charter city" -- a new kind of city with rules that favor democracy and trade. This year, at TED2011, he tells the story of how such a city might just happen in Honduras ... with a little help from his TEDTalk.
Moshe Safdie on building uniqueness
Looking back over his long career, architect Moshe Safdie delves into four of his design projects and explains how he labored to make each one truly unique for its site and its users.
Bill Strickland makes change with a slide show
Bill Strickland tells a quiet and astonishing tale of redemption through arts, music, and unlikely partnerships.
Does race affect votes?
Nate Silver has answers to controversial questions about race in politics: Did Obama's race hurt his votes in some places? Stats and myths collide in this fascinating talk that ends with a remarkable insight on how town planning can promote tolerance.
Stewart Brand on squatter cities
Rural villages worldwide are being deserted, as billions of people flock to cities to live in teeming squatter camps and slums. Stewart Brand says this is a good thing. Why? It’ll take you 3 minutes to find out.
Making maps to fight disaster, build economies
As of 2005, only 15 percent of the world was mapped. This slows the delivery of aid after a disaster -- and hides the economic potential of unused lands and unknown roads. In this short talk, Google's Lalitesh Katragadda demos Map Maker, a group map-making tool that people around the globe are using to map their world.
The route to a sustainable future
Worldchanging.com founder Alex Steffen argues that reducing humanity’s ecological footprint is incredibly vital now, as the western consumer lifestyle spreads to developing countries.
Eric Sanderson pictures New York -- before the City
400 years after Hudson found New York harbor, Eric Sanderson shares how he made a 3D map of Mannahatta's fascinating pre-city ecology of hills, rivers, wildlife -- accurate down to the block -- when Times Square was a wetland and you couldn't get delivery.
Ellen Dunham-Jones fires the starting shot for the next 50 years' big sustainable design project: retrofitting suburbia. To come: Dying malls rehabilitated, dead "big box" stores re-inhabited, parking lots transformed into thriving wetlands.
The anthropology of mobile phones
Nokia researcher Jan Chipchase's investigation into the ways we interact with technology has led him from the villages of Uganda to the insides of our pockets. He's made some unexpected discoveries along the way.
Reviving New York's rivers -- with oysters!
Architect Kate Orff sees the oyster as an agent of urban change. Bundled into beds and sunk into city rivers, oysters slurp up pollution and make legendarily dirty waters clean -- thus driving even more innovation in "oyster-tecture." Orff shares her vision for an urban landscape that links nature and humanity for mutual benefit.
Liz Diller plays with architecture
In this engrossing EG talk, architect Liz Diller shares her firm DS+R's more unusual work, including the Blur Building, whose walls are made of fog, and the revamped Alice Tully Hall, which is wrapped in glowing wooden skin.
Robin Chase on Zipcar and her next big idea
Robin Chase founded Zipcar, the world’s biggest car-sharing business. That was one of her smaller ideas. Here she travels much farther, contemplating road-pricing schemes that will shake up our driving habits and a mesh network vast as the Interstate.
Ben Katchor's comics of bygone New York
In this captivating talk from the TED archive, cartoonist Ben Katchor reads from his comic strips. These perceptive, surreal stories find the profound hopes and foibles of history (and modern New York) preserved in objects like light switches and signs.
Steven Johnson on the Web as a city
Outside.in's Steven Johnson says the Web is like a city: built by many people, completely controlled by no one, intricately interconnected and yet functioning as many independent parts. While disaster strikes in one place, elsewhere, life goes on.
The refugees of boom-and-bust
At TEDGlobal U, Cameron Sinclair shows the unreported cost of real estate megaprojects gone bust: thousands of migrant construction laborers left stranded and penniless. To his fellow architects, he says there is only one ethical response.
A vision for sustainable restaurants
If you've been in a restaurant kitchen, you've seen how much food, water and energy can be wasted there. Chef Arthur Potts-Dawson shares his very personal vision for drastically reducing restaurant, and supermarket, waste -- creating recycling, composting, sustainable engines for good (and good food).
How to grow a forest in your backyard
Forests don't have to be far-flung nature reserves, isolated from human life. Instead, we can grow them right where we are — even in cities. Eco-entrepreneur and TED Fellow Shubhendu Sharma grows ultra-dense, biodiverse mini-forests of native species in urban areas by engineering soil, microbes and biomass to kickstart natural growth processes. Follow along as he
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The freakonomics of McDonalds vs. drugs
Freakonomics author Steven Levitt presents new data on the finances of drug dealing. Contrary to popular myth, he says, being a street-corner crack dealer isn’t lucrative: It pays below minimum wage. And your boss can kill you.
This app makes it fun to pick up litter
The earth is a big place to keep clean. With Litterati — an app for users to identify, collect and geotag the world's litter — TED Resident Jeff Kirschner has created a community that's crowdsource-cleaning the planet. After tracking trash in more than 100 countries, Kirschner hopes to use the data he's collected to work with brands and organizations to stop litter
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How Syria's architecture laid the foundation for brutal war
What caused the war in Syria? Oppression, drought and religious differences all played key roles, but Marwa Al-Sabouni suggests another reason: architecture. Speaking to us over the Internet from Homs, where for the last six years she has watched the war tear her city apart, Al-Sabouni suggests that Syria's architecture divided its once tolerant and multicultural
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David Rockwell builds at Ground Zero
In this emotionally charged conversation with journalist Kurt Andersen, designer David Rockwell discusses the process of building a viewing platform at Ground Zero shortly after 9/11.
What a driverless world could look like
What if traffic flowed through our streets as smoothly and efficiently as blood flows through our veins? Transportation geek Wanis Kabbaj thinks we can find inspiration in the genius of our biology to design the transit systems of the future. In this forward-thinking talk, preview exciting concepts like modular, detachable buses, flying taxis and networks of suspended
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How art gives shape to cultural change
Thelma Golden, curator at the Studio Museum in Harlem, talks through three recent shows that explore how art examines and redefines culture. The "post-black" artists she works with are using their art to provoke a new dialogue about race and culture -- and about the meaning of art itself.