Weekend Vid Picks: TED Talks, 50 Million Views And Counting

Maybe it’s just leftover trauma from high school, but I’m always a bit bitter when I hear about how awesome some party was — some party to which I was not invited. In the case of the annual TED conference, though, I don’t mind so much, mainly because they now do a fantastic job of providing video highlights all year long. And there’s an entire Internet that agrees with me — this week, TED talk videos hit 50 million views, an impressive achievement given that there’s no army of Avril Lavigne fans doing their bidding.

To celebrate this achievement, TED has released their list of the Top 10 TED talks, along with a video highlight reel. Some of these featured talks rank as some of the most engaging web commentary circulating these days.

Conceptually there’s almost something eerie about brain scientist Jill Bolte Taylor’s tale of observing her own stroke, like something out of a Cronenberg movie. But her passion for the pursuit of greater understanding gives her story a transcendent quality. (Our original post.)

I love the tricks and secrets hiding in numbers (this might be one of the reasons I didn’t get invited to those parties in high school), so Arthur Benjamin’s “Mathemagic” is of course a favorite. I mean, he’s wearing a tuxedo. That’s reason enough to watch.

The one talk I’m sorry hasn’t gotten enough traffic to break into the Top 10 is J.J. Abrams’ ‘Mystery Box’ presentation, which really articulates how powerful the unknown can be — in storytelling or in life. (It also has a really cute clip from Jaws. I’m a sucker for Roy Schneider.)

TED Talks do require a time commitment, but while fifteen minutes in online video terms can feel like an eternity, it’s really no longer than any conversation I’d have at a party today. And frankly, a TED Talk? A little more interesting than “how ’bout them Lakers?”