At the Shuttleworth Foundation we have a now reasonably well-established tradition of gathering together every Tuesday at lunch to watch a Ted Talk. I borrowed this idea from Vera Franz of the Open Society Institute and with only a few damp squibs we have seen some great presentations and had some great discussions as a result.

In no particular order, here are my 5 favourites to date:

Ken Robinson

If you want to hear someone speak with passion about bringing creativity to the fore in schools, this is the talk for your. My favourite part of this is an anecdote he relates about a girl being treated for not being able to pay attention in school. The punch line (sorry) “Mrs. Lynne, Gillian isn’t sick; she’s a dancer. Take her to a dance school.” will stick with me forever.

Jan Chipchase

Jan Chipchase has a very cool job. He works for Nokia and travels the world observing how people use mobile and other kinds of technology. His discoveries and insights help inspire the development of the next generations of phones and services at Nokia. As a result, he knows a lot about how people do and don’t use technology. Big take home message for me in this was the extent to which he/Nokia expect innovation to come from the street.

Ben Zander

I first read The Art of Possibility six or seven years ago. It has been a source practical insight in both my personal and professional life. Ben Zander is an inspiration.

Paul Collier

Pragmatic thoughts on how to close the widening gap between The Bottom Billion and the rest of the world. Watch the video, read the book.

Hans Rosling

Doctor, researcher, and global data visualiser. Hans Rosling is a legend in many communities. This is a great video about the power of representing data effectively; of making lasagna and not spaghetti.

Ted Shorts

Honourable mentions for two Ted short presentations both of which have a tinkering theme. Gever Tulley talks about his Tinkering School in Five Dangerous Things for Kids and Johnny Lee demoing his Wii Remote Hacks.

People I’d Like to See on TED

John-Seely Brown. Former head of research at Xerox Parc, author of The Social Life of Information, and now general visionary on learning, education, and innovation, Johnn Seely-Brown is someone to listen to.

Dave Snowden. If complexity theory, narrative, sensemaking and Web2.0 are terms that make your ears prick up, Dave Snowden is someone worth listening to.

Posted by Steve Song

@stevesong local telco policy activist. social entrepreneur. founder of @villagetelco #africa #telecoms #opensource #privacy #wireless #spectrum #data