Monthly Archives: August 2012


Rory Sutherland: Perspective is everything

Last week I did a moment of self indulgence and attended Fan Expo in Toronto.  There were celebrities, artists and a whole lot of people throwing money at vendors for things that the average person wouldn’t consider necessary.

There’s nothing wrong with this, except I often find myself as one of these wide eyed spenders that wake up the next morning with a hangover and a bankcard with speed marks on it.

So why is one thing important to one person and not important to another?  Why are there fans of horror who are willing to spend hundreds of dollars on what another person would describe as ‘Halloween’ decorations?

There is a very ‘big’ answer for this phenomenon that has many sidelines of thought but one possible starting point is perspective.

Enough with the questions, on with the talk about the power of Perspective.


Date Filmed: December 2011

Length: 18 minutes, 24 seconds

Total Views so far: 697,473

One Sentence Summary: “Applied psychology value can boost sales, add patience and is all around us already.”

Now when I first saw the title for this TED talk, I was hoping Sutherland would be using a hypothetical party room example, as opposed to the real world examples that he utilizes.  The very first example he speaks of, does indeed use a party but it is more in regards to third party perspective.  It slightly paraphrases upon a quote that was said by CS Lewis, “A pipe gives a wise man time to think and a fool something to stick in his mouth.”

In this particular case, it just reverses the situation and one becomes the wise man by having a pipe in hand.

I need to remember this the next time I have a debate with anyone.  Who can make a strong argument when the opposing view pulls out a pipe?  NO ONE, that’s who.  In electoral debates, what would happen if one of the candidates makes their comment and then starts smoking a pipe?   At that point in time, the debate is over!

Future debates will be decided on who could pull their pipes out first.

Ironically, at this starting point is where I immediately have a little disagreement in the back of my mind while watching this talk.  I dislike the idea of using the term perspective to explain the mental digestion of a situation, but I do understand the reasoning of why Sutherland calls it so.

My ‘party analogy’ is more along the lines of a hypothetical situation where one party guest is so drunk the owner of the location asks them to leave.  The drunk might be trying to be entertaining, the guests might be entertained or horrified, and the owner is taking what they believe to be the responsible action.

There are multiple perspectives on what’s going on that night, depending upon if you’re the drunk, a party guest, or the owner.  And if you happen to be all three, then you’re someone who is so drunk you think you’re a party guest at someone else’ house.

I bet that happens more often than it should.

Moving on to the actual talk, Sutherland uses some pretty sharp examples of how a description of something greatly impacts the judgement (or perspective) of the individual.  And he hits it over the fence right away, by using an economic example that combines with the preconceived notion of control.

No sense of control, people/dogs/cats become sad.

Damn, that is true.  Almost every example he gives afterwards echoes this principal, and it affects people at the society level, individual level and the dog level.

Another interesting insight is goal dilution, where people think specializing in something makes them better at it.

However, there’s a few things that really stood out to me with this talk.

What caught me off guard?

Did he fucking swear?!?!  (1 minute, 20 seconds)  That’s the first time a TED talker just starts swearing out of the gate.

I’d bet right away that Sutherland is a guy who is not only socially adept, but the kind of guy who gets a group around him while he tells dirty jokes and swears like a pirate.  (Or possibly in private while in front of a window while smoking a cigarette)  Yarr, I bet the more controversial the joke, the more he’ll like it.  In my mind’s eye, he’s like that dirty uncle that embarrasses the neighbors for daring to leave their houses.

9 minutes 5 seconds in, was that a RACIST joke?  At a TED talk!?!  (I knew he was the dirty uncle!)

Or wait, maybe this is an actual fact?

A quick search of the internet could not confirm.  On the other hand, it did find this, the world’s most confusing traffic signal.

11 minutes, 5 seconds in, Sutherland mentions another great term called chunking.   Or as the modern gamer would describe it, achievements.  People will go absolutely crazy to complete an achievement and this kind of mentality works.  His white pill / blue pill solution would actually work in raising the self pleasure of taking pills, but if a person is taking pills chances are it is in a dire need.

Now if people were to be given ‘achievement points’ or ‘titles’, for filing your taxes every year, then we’d have something even more applicable.

Sutherland seems to stare straight ahead much more than the typical TED speaker.  It actually made me look for for the prompter that he’s reading from.  (I don’t think he’s reading but that’s the ‘perception’.)

The joke at 17 minutes, 5 seconds (odd pattern here), aha, you are a.. er… person that is prideful of your country of origin.

Argh, so I was a window staring fool!

I’ll give him the benefit of doubt and say I miscalled the possible racist joke above, he is in actuality, a nationalist.  When he pokes fun at the German or Chinese, it’s in a national context.  I’m actually surprised these types of jokes still exist.    Sutherland mentioned the Greek banks bailout too (an interesting choice, given the TED talk was in Athens).

So now that its been discussed, what can we do?

Simple, look for the fancy restaurant that smells like poo and inform them that they have to stop trying to improve the food and instead focus on cleaning the place.

Actually, it is this kind of perspective discussion that we should be applying to others.  Not in the sneaky manner of quietly re-framing information to make sales, that’s for the advertisers to do.  People should discuss on how our day to day lives are being framed more often.

Reviewing perspectives, one talk at a time.


– Updates every Friday

Leave a comment

Posted by on August 31, 2012 in Uncategorized




Hans Rosling: The magic washing machine

Every once in a while, the TED Talks will come up in casual conversation.  Every once in a while, I even find myself quoting a TED Talk.

Frankly, I’m quite shocked I haven’t covered this TED Talk yet because I have a tendency to quote it so much.

Rosling, the man who loves the washing machine, can be seen here.


Date Filmed: Dec 2010

Length: 9 minutes, 15 seconds

Total Views so far: 926,503

One Sentence Summary: “The world needs basic technology, more than keeping the world green.”

I’m not entirely certain if my summary of the TED Talk is particularly fair, as it implies an environmentally unfriendly attitude.  In relation to some of the previous EDTalksTed entries, Rosling even mentions that the danger of global warning is real but the benefits of giving access to a time saving device like the washing machine is all together more important.

What surprises me in this TED Talk is that Rosling is able to find a graphic that so clearly demonstrates the ‘lack’ of technology that exists in other parts of the world.  The idea of using little gray dots to represent energy consumption clearly shows that we live in an unbalanced world of technology.

Let’s face the reality, none of us really demand that we consume more energy than the rest of the world, it’s a by product of it’s natural state.

So when it comes to tackling the issue of making the world a better more ‘greener’ place, it’s us lucky consumers who utilize the most should be looking for greener alternate methods.

And that’s an 80/20 percent ratio, one could make some interesting comparisons to a 99/1 percent ratio.  (Although I’ll save those arguments for another day)

My favorite quote: “Even the hardcore in the green movement use washing machine” (4:40 mark)

This is like bringing a gun to a knife fight when it comes to finding a weak point in overzealous green students.  There is the possibility that you might be debating with someone who washes their clothing in the river, but that should be quite obvious.

I think this is also the only TED Talk that has a washing machine puppeteer, that’s pretty impressive.

So now that its been discussed, what can we do?

Push our washing machines out to the curb and begin heating our water by fire pit!

Which is a terrible idea, for one, seeing that I’m capable of breaking washing machines every time I turn one on, I’m pretty certain I’d discover ways to ruin open pits of fire.  That and what Rosling says is true, having a washing machine far outweighs the circumstance of not having one.

It would be interesting to see that if in 50 years, will there be a TEDtalk that says something similar about a growth technology today?   An example might be, teaching and the internet?

In any case, that easily forgotten washing machine, makes one hell of a great story.

-Updated every Friday

Leave a comment

Posted by on August 17, 2012 in TED Talks





The office this afternoon exploded with noise that I have rarely heard there.  One moment, the quiet silent hum of work that threatens to hypnotize everyone into deathlike comas; the next, it’s the first Saturday of May and there is a wave of excitement cresting across the room that forms a wall of loud cheering and shouting.  A wall that pretty much knocked everyone out of their seats in wondering what the heck was going on.

What happened was Usain Bolt won the 200 meter race, making him not only a gold medalist champion but one of the most prominent in history.  He has so many gold medals now he can leave them for tips at the pub or use them as throwing weapons as his superpower.  Much like a well placed wall of mortar fire, he can lob those gold medals forever because of his endless supply.  (Note: I believe his natural nemesis in this regard is Michael Phelps)

Do you know how to run?  I mean, REALLY know how to run.  Not surprisingly, not a whole lot of people do (I run with arms in the air like a wacky inflatable arm flailing tube clown).  However, here is a man who knows quite a lot on the subject but even more so, he seems to know why we CAN run.


Date Filmed: July 2010

Length: 15 minutes, 52 seconds

Total Views so far: 915,553

One Sentence Summary: “Humans run united.”

I searched TED for anything based on the Olympics.  That’s really specific, so I wasn’t too surprised when I turned up nothing on the subject specifically.

However, McDougall’s Talk catches my eye and this quickly turns out into one of my favorite talks.  McDougall tells some great real life stories and casually mentions some revelations that surprised me while remaining quite genuine in nature.

It’s quite interesting to think that as a species, we could have been a group that ran together.  That we would run as a pack across the land to go from destination to destination, only stopping to frolic amongst the flowers or dance or something.

Actually, this history of running sounds like the planet in episode ‘Justice’ from the Star Trek the Next Generation.  (The entire thing secretly horrifying so I will not post any links)

Just to quickly summarize, they ask the planet’s natives how do they travel.  They reply, “We run!  Let’s all run!  Oh no, what if these strangers don’t know how to run?”

I’d probably say something like, “Yes.  You’re right, but I know how to fire my phaser at a bunch of crazies” and then create some kind of phaser genocide against this planet of running maniacs.  Prime Directive my ass.

However, running IS enjoyable.  Robin Williams made some jokes about the ‘runners high’, and McDougall mentions how the society itself would be pulled together through running.

This makes a great deal of sense and could also be a hardwired social construct.  It is a very natural phenomenon to want to create packs, or identify with groups in society, even if that pack is the ‘pack that does not join packs’ subtype.  This most likely is something that is hardwired into the human brain.

So when translated with McDougall’s description of this running society its quite identifiable and I like how he takes the time to clearly note that all members of society are included.  Whether a person is young, old or imbetween, they are part of the hunting group.

What caught me off guard

And much to my surprise, McDougall also mentions Usain Bolt!  And then he immediately mentions some kind of magical squirrel that is capable of outrunning the human race.  The Speedy Gonzalez of the squirrel world who mocks us all with his ‘InYoFace’ attitude and then takes all of our nuts.

There was one ‘wowzers’ moment to me.  At the 11:15 mark, McDougall mentions that the pack cannot be materialistic, that in order to run and cooperate uniformly they need to be rather selfless.

This made a quick mental loop of arguments of whether or not greed or generosity is based upon the level of availability of items versus need.  I imagined a group sharing a pen to sign a birthday card.  Then we take another group and give the group a bunch of pens, but one pen is made of gold.  (you can guess what would probably happen next)


Do you know what the world’s hardest videogame is?

Some have argued that this horrible piece of crap, aka the running simulator, aka QWOP.

(Ok, so it’s not THAT bad…  But it’s sure to make some great Olympic replays!  Seriously, the entire gameplay video looked like a slow motion replay)

and if anyone is brave enough to actually to try to ‘run’.  You can play the game online here.

So now that its been discussed, what can we do?

McDougall is the author of “Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Super Athletes, and the Greatest Race the World has Never seen.”   It might be worth a jog to go read it.


-Updated every Friday

Leave a comment

Posted by on August 10, 2012 in Uncategorized




Becci Manson: (Re)touching lives through photos

A day late this week, mostly due to some kind of odd food poisoning that I received the other day. 

It begs the question, why is it called food poisoning?  In effect, it’s not during the act of eating that you feel poisoned.  (It should be poop poisoning.)LINK

I’m obviously kidding, and I obviously have not had much sleep this week.

A friend of mine recommended to me this talk on the ol’ FB (Facebook) and mentioned that he had had the opportunity to work Becci Manson.  And after seeing her speak, I have to say it most definitely is a lucky experience to have.

The link is in the title or here:

Date Filmed: June 2012

 Length: 9 minutes, 49 seconds

Total Views so far: 45,832

One Sentence Summary:  “Retouching is an art form that can be appreciated without guilt”

 My one sentence summary, although valid, does take away from the importance of volunteering, recognizing the tragedy of the Japan tsunami tragedy and the connection between people and our keepsake memories.

However, in what took me off guard, how it also ties with my life, the idea of retouching photos in the sense of it being an act of generosity is huge. 

Manson starts the Ted Talk right away with the very expectation of what people see ‘retouchers’ as.  People who make skinny models skinnier and making perfect skin more perfect. 

This, as far as I was aware, was the highpoint of morality that existed with retouchers.  That in general they are a self centered lot of basement dwellers who are out to make boobs more oogle worthy. 

Perverted retouchers!  How dare you leave your basements and apartment offices!  But what?  They did something that made an impact, a real personal impact, for the survivors?

That is incredibly touching.  That is something worthy of a TED Talk.

All Hands, the volunteer organization can be found here:

(Interesting, on their website, the front page immediately shows Manson talking at TED.  TED, you will continue to amaze me)

What can we do now?

This is a feel good story that is worth sharing.  It shows the commonality that all of us share, in the things that we cherish most, our memories of each other.

– Updated every Friday

PS> If I was there, I’d try to sneak some of my own photos in the pile to hopefully get some free retouching done.  “Oh no, the water damage made this guy look really fat.  You have to make him a skinny model with perfect skin..  And fix that mole on his cheek.  Perfect.”

Leave a comment

Posted by on August 4, 2012 in Uncategorized


Tags: ,