I was recently enlightened by Kunter Akbay about TED. Now, I had heard of TED, before, but never really paid attention until Kunter gave a short talk at one of our lab meetings – and have been addicted ever since. For those of you who don’t know, TED is an acronym for Technology, Entertainment, Design and their motto is “Ideas Worth Spreading”. There is an entire community and on-line presence formed around this motto. In addition, they have two formal conferences each year where the invited speakers are given a very short time (less than 20 min) to get their idea across. It’s meant to be quick, engaging, and to the point – many talks are less than 6 minutes! Topics vary widely from technical inventions, to life-lessons learned, to various artists performing. A great thing is that TED posts all the talks on their web-site – so everybody can enjoy from the comforts of their home.
One of the talks that caught my attention was from William Kamkwamba, a young man from Malawi who garnered fame for his perseverance, ingenuity and dedication in building a windmill to generate electricity for his family. It is inspiring to hear his story of how he decided to continue to learn on his own by reading books in the library after he dropped-out of school because his family couldn’t afford the tuition… and then ingeniously applied his self-education to improve the lives of those around him. This young man demonstrated many of the values that I admire: passion for learning, determination, inventiveness, hands-on solving of real problems, helping the community, making the best use of available limited resources and focusing on renewable resources.
The world needs more people like Mr. Kamkwamba.