TED is a nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading and provides a clearinghouse of videos that offers free knowledge and inspiration from the world’s most inspired thinkers.
Although it started out as a conference that brought together technology, entertainment, and design, a few thoughtful law-related presentations made their way into the world-class library of what has become known as TED Talks. Here are 10 choice law related TED videos:
1. Philip K. Howard: Four ways to fix a broken legal system – The land of the free has become a legal minefield, says Philip K. Howard — especially for teachers and doctors, whose work has been paralyzed by fear of suits. What’s the answer? A lawyer himself, Howard has four propositions for simplifying US law.
2. Alan Siegel: Let’s simplify legal jargon! – Tax forms, credit agreements, healthcare legislation: They’re crammed with gobbledygook, says Alan Siegel, and incomprehensibly long. He calls for a simple, sensible redesign — and plain English — to make legal paperwork intelligible to the rest of us.
3. Drew Curtis: How I beat a patent troll – Drew Curtis, the founder of fark.com, tells the story of how he fought a lawsuit from a company that had a patent, “…for the creation and distribution of news releases via email.” Along the way he shares some nutty statistics about the growing legal problem of frivolous patents.
4. Clay Shirky: How the Internet will (one day) transform government – The open-source world has learned to deal with a flood of new, oftentimes divergent, ideas using hosting services like GitHub — so why can’t governments? In this rousing talk Clay Shirky shows how democracies can take a lesson from the Internet, to be not just transparent but also to draw on the knowledge of all their citizens.
5. Larry Lessig: Laws that choke creativity – Larry Lessig, the Net’s most celebrated lawyer, cites John Philip Sousa, celestial copyrights and the “ASCAP cartel” in his argument for reviving our creative culture. The U.S. Congress is broken, and law professor and legal activist Lawrence Lessig wants you to help him fix it. In “Republic, Lost,” he tells you how.
6. Johanna Blakley: Lessons from fashion’s free culture – Copyright law’s grip on film, music and software barely touches the fashion industry … and fashion benefits in both innovation and sales, says Johanna Blakley. In her talk, she talks about what all creative industries can learn from fashion’s free culture.
7. Scott Fraser: Why eyewitnesses get it wrong – Scott Fraser studies how humans remember crimes — and bear witness to them. In this powerful talk, which focuses on a deadly shooting at sunset, he suggests that even close-up eyewitnesses to a crime can create “memories” they could not have seen. Why? Because the brain abhors a vacuum.
8. Marc Goodman: A vision of crimes in the future – The world is becoming increasingly open, and that has implications both bright and dangerous. Marc Goodman paints a portrait of a grave future, in which technology’s rapid development could allow crime to take a turn for the worse.
9. Christopher “moot” Poole: The case for anonymity online – The founder of 4chan, a controversial, uncensored online imageboard, describes its subculture, some of the Internet “memes” it has launched, and the incident in which its users managed a very public, precision hack of a mainstream media website. The talk raises questions about the power — and price — of anonymity.
10. Simon Sinek: How great leaders inspire action – Not legal profession specific, but applies widely, including to lawyers and legal professionals. It’s also one of the best Ted Talks I’ve seen. Simon Sinek has a simple but powerful model for inspirational leadership all starting with a golden circle and the question “Why?” His examples include Apple, Martin Luther King, and the Wright brothers.