Introducing TED

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I guess I’ve been in my cave too long because when I crawled out yesterday, looking for a movie to watch on NetFlix(r), I discovered TED — and TED, I find out, has been around since 1985.

In ’85 TED was in the form of a series of annual conferences but somewhere between then and now the TED Talks video site came into being and it is totally fascinating!

TED is an acronym that stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design. That knowledge, in itself, tells you nothing about what goes on at TED. Right now TED Talks has over 1100 videos (and it’s growing every day); each video is a presentation by an expert in the subject field.

As you might know, if you’ve followed by writings here at My View from the Center you can guess that I eventually started exploring talk on the subjects of politics, religion and social issues — but that’s me!

If you’ve just crawled out of a cave near mine and know nothing about TED and want to learn something new, what you need to do is go to either the TED Talks video site or the TED Home Page, type virtually any topic of interest to you into the search box and see what comes up.

Alternately, if you are the type who will go to the Google Search Site and click on the button that says “I’m feeling Lucky” you may enjoy the similar feature at TED; go to the TED Home Page and find the “Surprise Me” button (about half-way down the page) which will allow you to watch a random selection of videos on various topics. You may agree or disagree with the speakers but, either way, you will most likely learn something new.

TED is a fascinating concept that has evolved into a series of websites that allow you to participate (if you choose) as well as just watch and listen.

I’m sure glad I came out of my intellectual hibernation yesterday morning.

Wikileaks: A Destructive Force

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It’s hard to know what to say about an organization like Wikileaks. On one hand, publishing classified information must certainly be illegal, but on the other hand, exposing illegal activity certainly shouldn’t be illegal; except, of course, when it puts people (the “good guys”) in danger.

Right now, Wikileaks, in the name of journalism, focuses on nothing; it is throwing everything out there into the public domain, everything from classified government documents to private messages sent between private parties.

Is this really “journalism”?

Perhaps in today’s wired world it can be considered at least “new journalism” but it must also be recognized as “dirty journalism,” journalism devoid of ethics or standards.

When it publishes, as it has, security procedures used at the United Nations and elsewhere, it potentially puts many people in danger in today’s terrorist infested world. When it publishes the tens of thousands of pager messages sent between friends and family on September 11, 2001, without permission from the parties involved, as it has, it steps way beyond any conceivable ethical journalistic standards.

Perhaps “junk journalism” would be the best descriptor.

Another consideration, and the one that concerns me the most, is the future of the Internet! The U.S. government is very upset! You can bet your 401K that the end result of Wikilinks will be new controls on the Internet, more government involvement in Internet operations and perhaps even laws that can punish bloggers (most of whom, who seem to consider themselves journalists) for what they publish in their blogs.

I’m talking about censorship (or whatever they’ll choose to call it); we’ve witnessed it recently: a determined administration will do whatever the hell it wants without regard to public opinion.

No, Wikileaks is certainly not a positive presence in either the world of journalism or the World Wide Web.

Certainly, just my opinion!

Interlude: An Unaccountable Peace

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Thunderstorm

An Unaccountable Peace

Rain begins to sprinkle then a gush,
damp chill wrests control of the night,
thunder roils then shakes the world,
the sky streaks with beautiful light

An unaccountable peace fills me up
as it does during every storm;
as I sit, I question this tranquility
this peace that keeps me warm

I ponder and wander my mental realm
till I last discover a salient thought:
my mind, so busy controlling life’s course,
has surrendered to the chaos nature has wrought

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My thunderstorm, described above, took me by surprise at a moment when the details and minutiae of that day in my life were swimming through my head and, I swear, threatening to move down to my stomach and ruin any chance for a peaceful rest, after a day without peace in the equation.

The rain began and then began to grow, from small droplets to large, from a gentle pitter-pat to a relentless pounding. Flashes of lightning decorated the sky over a nearby city before visiting mine — visiting and staying for nearly a half-hour and calling, while they were here, an orchestra of kettle drums hidden behind every vague cloud.

Overwhelmed by this display of uncontrollable nature’s wrath, my mind was lulled into peaceful coexistence with my world; the obnoxious people, unpleasant sights and bothersome events of my day were so inconsequential, when compared to the sound and light show nature had prepared for me, they slid away into some mental warehouse where these things are kept until once again useful.

Soon after, I too slid away; slid away from the world as I allowed this ‘unaccountable peace’ to lull me to sleep.

There should, perhaps, be a moral to this reflection but all I can imagine it would be is this:

At least occasionally, stop fighting against the uncontrollable elements in your life; don’t just ignore them, accept them and use them as a soporific.