Instead of futurists, let’s be now-ists: Joi Ito at TED2014

Director of the MIT Media Lab Joi Ito speaking at TED 2014:

In the B.I. [before the internet] world, starting a business had a clear timeline: says Ito, you hired MBAs to write a business plan, you raised money, and then you built the thing you wanted to build. But in the AI world, the cost of innovation has come down so much that you start with the building—and then figure the money and business plan. “It’s pushed innovation to the edges, to the dorms rooms and startups, and away from stodgy organizations that had the money, the power and the influence.”

During Nicholas Negroponte’s era at the MIT Media Lab, the motto he proposed was: “Demo or die.” He said that the demo only had to work once. But Ito, who points out that he’s a “three-time college dropout,” wants to change the motto to: “Deploy or die.” He explains, “You have to get it into the real world to have it actually count.”

Ito takes us to Shenzhen, China, where young inventors are taking this idea to the next level. In the same way that “kids in Palo Alto make websites,” these kids make cell phones. They bring their designs to the markets, look at what’s selling and what others are doing, iterate and do it over again. “What we thought you could only do in software, kids in Shenzhen are doing in hardware,” he says.


Ito urges us to follow a compass rather than a map. Instead of planning out every exact points before you start, allow yourself to make the decisions you need as you go in the general direction of where you need to be.

“I don’t like the word ‘futurist,’” he says. “I think we should be now-ists. Focus on being connected, always learning, fully aware and super present.”


Looking forward to seeing this talk when the video becomes available. 

Choreographer Wayne McGregor: Dance, Physical Thinking & Misbehaving Beautifully

We all use our body on a daily basis, and yet few of us think about our physicality the way Wayne McGregor does. He demonstrates how a choreographer communicates ideas to an audience, working with two dancers to build phrases of dance, live and unscripted, on the TEDGlobal stage.

A great addition to our collection of Dance related TED Talks. Don't miss the follow up post on the TED blog where he gives tips for thinking like a dancer. Below you can see McGregor and DJ/Producer Mark Ronson discuss their unique collaboration at Royal Ballet LIVE - a day of live streamed events from The Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.

And lastly, support dance and dancers, go see live dance.

Embracing The Remix: An Act To Promote The Progress Of Useful Arts

We are not self-made. We are dependent on one another. Admitting this to ourselves isn't an embrace of mediocrity and derivativeness, it's a liberation from our misconceptions.”
Kirby Ferguson

A Modest Proposal By John Bohannon: Get Rid Of Powerpoint And Use Dancers Instead

It started with “Dance You PH.D.” (covered here yesterday) and now John Bohannon, accompanied by Black Label Movement, takes the concept of communicating ideas through dance further in this fantastic TEDxBrussels talk. 

In a follow up post at he explains how and why the talk came to be. 

Over the summer, I worked with Black Label Movement, a dance company based in Minneapolis led by Carl Flink. We had a shoestring budget, not even enough to get all the dancers to Brussels. So we had to create the dance and rehearse in Minneapolis in our spare time for free. Then we hired 6 Brussels-based dancers and arrived in Brussels 10 days early to rehearse with them. I’m amazed we pulled it off, but Carl wasn’t surprised. Professional dancers find this kind of pressure routine.

The piece changed drastically over the course of its creation. As I got to know the dancers and see how they struggled to make ends meet, especially when injuries occur without healthcare coverage, my mood darkened. What began as a small piece of optimistic theater about science turned into a satire about the status of artists in the US. As inspiration, I looked back to Jonathan Swift’s 1729 essay, “A Modest Proposal,” It was a masterpiece of political satire that proposed a seemingly rational solution to the problem of the poor in Ireland: They should sell their babies as food, generating much-needed income and reducing their population in one stroke. It was a reply to some of the brutal utilitarian policies being discussed at the time by the aristocracy. Where you hear antique language in my presentation, I am quoting Swift verbatim.