“Ideas worth spreading,” is the catchphrase of the TED (Technology, Engineering, Design) conference series.
The ideas expressed in over 1,000 videos are worth spreading, so much so that I often e-mail presentations, called “talks,” to family and friends who they are relevant to as soon as I watch them.
If I had locally elected officials in my contact list I would send the talks to them, too. I would tell them they could be introduced to a variety of new ideas within a short period of time.
I’ve chosen four different TED talks that in total could be watched within an hour, and that I would like to share with local officials in the city of Ypsilanti.
First is David Cameron’s “The next age of government,” which is 14 minutes long and was delivered in 2010. In his presentation, Cameron discusses how much governments can accomplish despite the need to be more austere. Debt levels are high, and so are demands from citizens. With the use of behavioral economics, there is a way to enact a policy that is essentially without cost, but can alleviate social problems.
Cameron is the prime minister of the United Kingdom. He is also a member of the Conservative Party and was elected in 2010.
Second is Jennifer Pahlka’s “Coding for government,” which is 12 minutes long and was delivered in 2012. Pahlka is the founder of Code for America, an organization that matches citizens proficient in the computer sciences with American cities to boost local services and improve governmental use of technology.
“It is a little bit like a Peace Corp. for geeks” Pahlka said, “There [in city government] they make great apps, and work with city staffers.”
Third is Michael Porter’s “Why business can be good at solving social problems,” which is 17 minutes long and was delivered in 2013. To be sure, the idea presented in this talk is not to privatize our roads, schools and police force, but rather to allow businesses an opportunity to solve social problems that have otherwise been intractable. Porter is a professor at Harvard Business School.
Porter’s lessons can be localized. The B. Side of Youth, a nonprofit in Ypsilanti, is already dedicated to entrepreneurial activities that help the community.
Fourth is Eduardo Paes’s “The 4 commandments of cities,” which is 13 minutes long and was delivered in 2012. Paes is the mayor of Rio de Janeiro, a city with a population of 6.3 million by his account. That many people dwarf the population of Ypsilanti, which is 19,621 as of the most recent census. Albeit the disparity in population, the lessons, or “commandments,” are still valuable and can be scaled downward to apply to a small city.
The TED conference series present a forum for spectacular ideas. These talks offer the opportunity for locally elected officials or anybody in the halls of power to open themselves up to ideas that can be formulated to match the needs of their communities.
If you’re captivated by an idea presented, explore it and champion it.
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It's an opinion piece, you idiot.