When the first Technology Entertainment and Design (TED) conference was held in 1984, the Internet as we know it was still strange little world inhabited mostly by government employees and academics, busily creating much of the lingo (FAQ, troll, flame war) we use today.
Since then, TED Talks continued to grow and the Internet was commercialized and made widely available, until, in June 2006, the free availability of online TED Talks added another bullet point in the pro-Internet argument. Today, there are more than 900 talks available -- including messages from Bill Gates, Bill Clinton, and Jane Goodall -- with more than 50 million views.
Here are five TED Talk gems you'll want to check out before Friday ...
5. Sunni Brown: Doodlers, unite!
To explain this, Brown traces the mean history of the word "doodle," then argues for the power of doodling to unlock the brain's potential. We're on board: We've already doodled a parrot riding a cat. Now the parrot has a monocle.
4. Alexis Ohanian: How to make a splash in social media
This is the story of how the web's collective mind helped one humpback whale become Mr. Splashy Pants, and how Greenpeace had to bite their tongue.\
3. Eli Pariser: Beware online "filter bubbles"
Even so, it's a fascinating look at how the Internet may be increasingly allowing us to exist in bubbles - if not pushing us - in an already increasingly partisan age.
2. Hasan Elahi: FBI, here I am!
Lighthearted and hilarious, Elahi argues that the best way to deal with all the data available about us in the information age is to take control of it. There's a new term for this: Sousveillance. It's like surveillance, but from below - like with civilian camera phones - instead of above, by the government.
1. Edith Widder: The weird, wonderful world of bioluminescence
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Acclaimed director Werner Herzog began to worry that there were no more images yet unseen in the world, leading him to Antarctica in Encounters at the End of the World (2007) and inside a cave that had been lost for tens of thousands of years in Cave of Forgotten Dreams (2010). Like Herzog, Widder is another visionary to bring new images (of light) to light - and they're spectacular.
TEDxPhoenix is from 4 to 9 p.m. at Mesa Arts Center, (and dinner's provided by Wildflower Bread Company). The theme is "____ for a Change," and each speaker will fill in the blank. Tickets are available online for $39.