For quite some time now I have been a huge fan of TED. TED stands for Technology Entertainment and Design and it is a branded website that serves up talks in six minute, twelve minute and eighteen minute versions www.ted.com. Its a pretty cool organization with people like Bono of U2, former president Clinton and Vice President Al Gore and Bill and Melinda Gates having given talks on their site.
They have content about a wide range of subject matter and now have built up thousands of talks on demand, for free on their website. The talks are on a wide range of subject matter. A long time ago, when I completely gave up television in my home (1996 to be exact) i decided that I would control all of the content I would consume, that I would be active in selecting that content rather than passively selecting that which would be presented to me from a 500 channel universe.
It was also a way to get my mindset out of “television style” storytelling, which created nugget sized content to take views between the commercial breaks. As an aside, Neil Postman is a person to read on the subject of television and its effects. So I started by watching only DVD’s, but eventually as online content became more available and TED was launched, it became one of my favorite internet “channels” for content.
I liked the idea that I was meeting all of these great speakers and being introduced to so much interesting stuff. This access to knowledge (when used properly) is still the single greatest gift of the internet age. So, long before I even had an inkling I would be living in Italy, I gleefully consumed TED content online. Little did I know I would at one time be one of their speakers, not once but twice and in two different languages.
It happened this way. During my first year in Florence a few people knew of my work on Brunelleschi and understood (probably because I never shut up about it) of my deep passion for Brunelleschi. A friend had a mutual friend who was organizing a TED X event in Florence and I was asked to prepare a six minute talk on the general theme of optimism and hope. Without a moment of thought I accepted and began preparing notes.
Then, not long after that came the knowledge that I would have to present this talk in Italian. “OK, I could work really hard and try to do that.” I thought and then just a little added pressure, the talk would have to take place in the Salone del Cinquecento at Florence’s historical City Hall. This room once served as the Italian parliament!
Just to add to the pressure a bit I was told that I would be the speaker between italian pop icon (think the Eminem of Italy), Jovannotti and the rising star of Italian Politics; the very popular mayor of Florence, Matteo Renzi!(who now has become the Italian prime minister) These challenges I took as more of life’s special gifts, and besides this was a wonderful opportunity to share with the world my passion for this project and more about the life of Filippo Brunelleschi.
I still have never watched the video of this talk as I think my wardrobe selection might make me cringe, but I embed the link of the talk in Italian here for you to watch.
I did mention two TED talks, well, that is another story that took me to a four hundred seat theatre in downtown London where I would deliver another talk but this time in my mother tongue.
Boy, was I happy and thrilled at the same time when it was all over.