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TED Session 2: Tim Berners-Lee, Nandan Nilekani…

The theme is REFRAME.

1. Tim Berners-Lee

20 years ago, my boss said I could work on web as a side project. Was initially difficult to explain what the web is like, but it was a grassroots movement. The spirit of all these people getting together sending emails.

Then, putting data on the web is frustration — we haven’t got data on the web as data. Data you can’t use by itself, but it drives a huge amount of our life when someone puts it together and does something with it. Hans Rosling demonstrated that at TED, and still says it’s really important to have a lot of data.

Linked Data: People, products, places, concepts have names that start with http. When I fetch it, I get back some data in a useful format back. And it has relationships. Data is relationships.

I wrote an article about linked data a couple years ago, and things started to happen. Linking improves data, and it’s starting to grow, this is grassroots stuff again.

Examples: Government data. Obama said will put info up online. I hope it’s linked data. Not just transparency, but also value — in companies, in kid’s homework using that data. Before making a beautiful website, give us unadulterated, raw data. Raw Data Now!

Drug discovery. Great way of getting scientists out of silos. Genomics data, protein data, putting together gives you power to bridge disciplines.

Silos of social networking sites, tremendously frustrating.

Even though not an immediate return on investment, it’ll be great if everyone else does it too.

2. Yair Landau, former president Sony Pictures Digital, Mass Animation

Building CGI animation using Facebook app. Audience could download storyboard and upload shots — making CGI animation process transparent. 440 shots submitted. We selected 50 animators from 17 countries. We told our story using music as a universal language, we didn’t have to translate. Storytelling on a mass network basis.

3. Nandan Nilekani, Infosys

Why all the paradoxes in India?

Factors (I was dealing with some tech issues so this is spotty). He is basically laying out the outline to his new book.

English: changed from language of colonizers to language of aspiration and jobs
Technology: everyone getting mobile phones, many pre-paid
Globalization: Indians thought was form of imperialism, but as have gone abroad, realize it’s something they can participate in
Democracy: from one-party rule to 13-party rule
Education: access to primary schools, even though government schools don’t function
Cities: engines of economic growth, creativity, innovation — notion is finally being accepted
Single market: going from every state being its own market to whole country being a market — makes for seamless flow of goods
Political gridlock
Labor reforms: too much job protection
Higher education: completely regulated now, very hard to start private university
Health: replacing poor country diseases with rich country diseases
Environment: dirty growth

Why does this matter? Because it affects more than 1 billion people. Because it affects democracy. Because if you can solve these problems you can solve the problems of poverty in the world. You can solve the world’s capital problems.

4. Pattie Maes, researcher

We use senses to perceive information and help us make decisions. Increasingly information we can’t access in those ways is available online. Meta information that may exist somewhere that would help us make the right decision about something we are coming across.

My research group has been developing series of inventions to give us access to information in an easy way that does not require changing behavior.

$350 contraption: camera, projector, mirror, colored caps, phone (all off-the-shelf). You can walk up to any surface and use your hands to interact like a multitouch device. Camera recognizes gestures — e.g. framing with your thumbs and fingers tells the device to take a picture.

Similarity to Jeff Han, Microsoft Surface table — but the fifference is you can use any surface — demo of projecting a phone keypad onto a left hand and dialing with the right hand and making a call. Oohs and ahhs for this demo.

Completely mobile, in mass production would not cost more than today’s cell phones.

It really can act as one of these sixth-sense devices.

Can scan products in a store to get information about ecological consciousness, Amazon rating — all this is projected directly onto the product in the users’ hands.

Can project video annotations of events you’re reading about in a newspaper. See a tag cloud of a person projected on them. Draw a circle on your wrist and a watch pops up.

It’s unclear how the image recognition and people recognition is done here — if it is canned or what.

5. Al Gore

Update on polar ice caps. Carbon being emitted in form of methane from frozen ground surrounding the Arctic. Crazy video of a researcher punching a whole in the snow and setting it on fire. Drought, fires, weather-related disasters increasing at extreme rate. Shows some anti-clean coal video ads. Alternative ads: “Repower America” — 100% clean electricity, wind, sun…this stuff is not very specific.

6. Ray Anderson, sustainable-business pioneer

The best case on climate mitigation is a thousand-year recovery. I come offering a solution to the biggest culprit: business and industry. Founded Interface in 1973, providing carpet tiles. Then read Paul Hawkins’ book. Rejiggered formula to make technology in the denominator rather than the numerator of environmental impact. Unfortunately my computer crashed during this talk so these notes are just terrible. This was the first talk to get a standing ovation at Palm Springs, so make sure to check it out when it’s posted on

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