Nifty Films Friday! TEDTalks

by Dale Bond

Welcome to another round of Nifty Films Friday. This week, we’re showcasing TEDTalks, the global conferences focused around “ideas worth spreading.”

Films on Demand is a resource provided to KU students by Rohrbach Library. Films on Demand has thousands of films for students to peruse, and is easily accessible on or off campus.

If on campus, simply head over to

If accessing off campus, add to the beginning of the above link, or any Films on Demand link, and then log in using your KU username and password.


Chip Kidd—Designing Books Is No Laughing Matter (OK, It Is)

Chip Kidd


Graphic designer Chip Kidd doesn’t judge books by their cover; he creates covers that embody the book—and he does it with a wicked sense of humor. In one of the funniest talks from TED2012, he shows the art and deep thought of his cover designs.

Amber Case—We Are All Cyborgs Now

 Amber Case


Technology is evolving us, says Amber Case, as we become a screen-staring, button-clicking new version of Homo sapiens. We now rely on “external brains” (cell phones and computers) to communicate, remember, even live out secondary lives. But will these machines ultimately connect or conquer us? Case offers surprising insight into our cyborg selves.


Jessa Gamble—Our Natural Sleep Cycle

 Jessa Gamble


In today’s world, balancing school, work, kids, and more, most of us can only hope for the recommended eight hours of sleep. Examining the science behind our body’s internal clock, Jessa Gamble reveals the surprising and substantial program of rest we should be observing.


Hans Rosling—The Magic Washing Machine

Hans Rosling


What was the greatest invention of the industrial revolution? Hans Rosling makes the case for the washing machine. With newly designed graphics from Gapminder, Rosling shows us the magic that pops up when economic growth and electricity turn a boring wash day into an intellectual day of reading.


Eve Ensler—Suddenly, My Body

Eve Ensler


Poet-writer-activist Eve Ensler lived in her head. In this powerful talk from TEDWomen, she talks about her lifelong disconnection from her body—and how two shocking events helped her to connect with the reality, the physicality, of being human.


Elizabeth Gilbert—A Different Way to Think about Creative Genius

Elizabeth Gilbert


Elizabeth Gilbert faced a pre-midlife crisis by doing what we all secretly dream of—running off for a year. Her travels through Italy, India, and Indonesia resulted in the best-selling and deeply beloved memoir Eat, Pray, Love about her process of finding herself by leaving home. Gilbert is a longtime magazine writer—covering music and politics for Spin and GQ—as well as a novelist and short-story writer. In this funny, personal, and surprisingly moving TEDTalk, Gilbert muses on the impossible things we expect from artists and geniuses and shares the radical idea that instead of the rare person being a genius, all of us have a genius.


Bill Gates—Mosquito, Malaria, and Education

Bill Gates


Microsoft founder Bill Gates is a geek icon, tech visionary, and business trailblazer. His leadership—fueled by his long-held dream that millions might realize their potential through great software—made Microsoft a personal computing powerhouse and a trendsetter in the Internet age. Gates has focused on his philanthropic work with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation since 2008 and has donated staggering sums to HIV/AIDS programs, libraries, agricultural research, and disaster relief. In this engaging TEDTalk, Gates hopes to solve some of the world’s biggest problems using a new kind of philanthropy. In a passionate and funny 18 minutes, he asks viewers to consider two big questions and how we might answer them.


Sunitha Krishnan—Fighting Sex Slavery

Sunitha Kristnan


Human rights activist Sunitha Krishnan is galvanizing India’s battle against sexual slavery by uniting governments, corporations, and NGOs to end human trafficking. She has dedicated her life to rescuing women and children from the trade—which is a multimillion-dollar global market. In this courageous TEDTtalk, Krishnan tells three powerful stories, as well as her own, and calls for a more humane approach to helping these survivors rebuild their lives.


Nancy Etcoff—On the Surprising Science of Happiness

Nancy Etcoff


Evolutionary psychologist Nancy Etcoff is part of a vanguard of cognitive researchers who want to know what makes human beings feel content, and why we evolved with a preference for beautiful things. In this TEDTalk, Etcoff presents her findings on the nature of happiness, exposing results that surprise even while reinforcing common sense concepts (having flowers in the house really does make us happier). “Skewering the popular wisdom that beauty is a social construct, this Harvard psychologist argues that we ogle such features because they radiate the health our species needs to survive,” says Time.


Pranav Mistry—The Thrilling Potential of SixthSense Technology

Pranav Mistry


In this TEDTalk, Pranav Mistry demonstrates several remarkable tools that allow the physical world to interact with the world of data, including SixthSense, his gestural interface device that enables a display of a watch simply by tracing a circle on your wrist with your finger—and that’s just one of its applications. Viewers also learn about a paradigm-shifting paper “laptop,” intelligent sticky notes that can be searched and that can send reminders, a pen that draws in 3D, and, a map that can, for instance, show you where to get coffee if you place an empty mug on its surface.

Films on Demand adds new films regularly. Check back here next Friday for another set of awesome videos!


6 Responses to “Nifty Films Friday! TEDTalks”

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