TED: How creativity is being strangled by the law by Larry Lessig

Lawrence Lessig is a Stanford law professor, and one the leading authorities on the issue of copyright. He is a founding board member of Creative Commons, an organization (and a license name) devoted to making creative works such as images or video available for others to build upon and share. This wonderful TED presentation, in “Lessig Method” style, is about how our culture has been changed (and is changing) by Internet, and why the existing copyright laws are inadequate any more.

Original video on TED.com (might be better quality).

Lessig has been extremely politically active and is widely recognized by the Internet community as having greatly contributed to the freedom of expression. Here’s a “Tribute to Larry Lessig” from Brave New Films, the guys who brought you The Real McCain, FOX Attacks! and Meet the Bloggers:

Zeitgeist: Addendum (2008) – documentary

Since I posted Zeitgeist, the Movie here and admitted I kinda liked it, I feel obligated to include the sequel. Zeitgeist: Addendum was released (also free of charge to all) in 2008, and this one, too, got the Best Feature Activist Spirit Award.

But I would rather disagree. In the first part of the movie, the process of money creation is described in detail. The second part is basically a long interview with John Perkins who wrote Confessions of an Economic Hit Man – a wildly controversial and criticized book. And it goes downhill from there. Then The Venus Project is described, as a possible solution to all humanity’s troubles.

The Venus Project is basically a utopia, a society where all energy problems are solved with geothermal energy, there’s no money since energy is abundant. They call it “resource based society”. I fail to see how it’s different from communist utopia, with no money or markets/buying/selling so avidly described by some Soviet science fiction writers. Supposedly, if it wasn’t for corrupt oil companies, financiers and politicians, we all could live in such heaven, since we already have the technology to build it.

I got interested in this Venus Project. I surfed their website in search of answers. How are they going to distribute resources however big they are? What about geothermal power disadvantages? Its net energy? They claim there’ll be no crime – what about latest findings of cognitive science on the nature of violence? Well, as I suspected: nothing. The whole website looks like a pretty glossy paper advertisement brochure. Looks like a fine futurology/design experiment, nothing serious. How can you put it in a documentary? And talk about it as a “solution”?

I’ve always been wary of conspirologists, and the more I live the “warier” I become. Here’s the video:

Maxed Out (2006) – documentary

Maxed Out: Hard Times, Easy Credit and the Era of Predatory Lenders is an independent documentary film by James Scurlock that chronicles abusive practices in the credit card industry. The film got the Special Jury Prize award at the South by Southwest Film Festival. This film isn’t available online, but I would highly recommend renting a DVD. For those who have Netflix subscription, it is currently available for instant play free of charge. It’s not really about the current economic crisis, or the credit crunch, or the national debt. It’s more about such facts as that most of the profit for credit card companies comes in form of fees and interest from those who pay late, or even eventually can’t pay at all.

The following video is James Scurlock giving a talk at Google about his movie. That took place on April 23, 2007.

TED: How a ragtag band created Wikipedia by Jimmy Wales

Jimmy Wales, who at least co-founded Wikipedia, talks on its origins, history and organization. Wikipedia is probably the most successful collaborative project to date, the largest general reference resource on the net, counting over 2.5 million articles, and #8 popular website in the world reaching almost 10% of Internet users daily. And most amazingly, it costs very little to run – the whole Wikimedia Foundation took just $3.5m to run in 2007/2008. It’s one of those landscape-changing projects that excite me so much. What will the future bring next?

Original video on TED.com (might be better quality).

TED: A brief history of violence by Steven Pinker

I’ve always felt that the natural path of development for humanity is to grow less and less violent over time, in spite of the recent phenomena which I can only describe as “violence hysteria”. Finally, some data and a very educational talk to share. Steven Pinker, experimental psychologist and cognitive scientists was invited to talk on TED three times: in 2003, 2005 and 2007. In his latest talk, he presents data proving that we leave in the most peaceful of all times, and delves into the question of why it is so commonly perceived that the level of violence has been rising in the 20th century.

Original video on TED.com (might be better quality).

TED: Sliced bread and other marketing delights by Seth Godin

Marketing guru Seth Godin explains why, when it comes to choice, bizarre ideas sell better than ordinary ones, and urges us all to build “remarkable” things. Quite entertaining.

Original video on TED.com (might be better quality).

TED: Why we know less than ever about the world by Alisa Miller

In this short TED talk, the CEO of Public Radio International Alisa Miller shows eye-opening stats that explain why Americans know less and less about the rest of the world.

Original video on TED.com (might be better quality).