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What are the more interesting TED talks on UX

TED talks can improve your general knowledge.  They do not provide in-depth insights into any specific field, but you will learn on a huge diversity of subjects, directly from the insiders.

TED talks can provide good edutainment.  Relax and enjoy the publicly accessible free content. 

TED talks can boost creativity. This is why I watch them. Creativity is a numbers game.  The best way to design a good solution is to have lots of ideas.  The more ideas you have, the greater your chances of having one that’s truly innovative and that solves the most pressing problems for your customers.  Watching inspired ideas directly from the insiders, on a huge diversity of subjects, provides different perspectives that you can apply.  That’s how I identify with their ‘Ideas worth spreading’ slogan.

In this article, I share my learnings from below TED talks –

Designers – Think BigTim Brown
How Airbnb designs for trustJoe Gebbia
What a digital government looks likeAnna Piperal

I’ll be updating this list whenever I watch new TED talks that I think will help you in becoming a better researcher and designer. Do subscribe to my blog to get automatic updates. You may also bookmark my blog. 

Designers – Think Big by Tim Brown

Tim Brown is the CEO of design firm IDEO.  Companies from fast food conglomerates to high-tech startups, hospitals to universities turn to IDEO when they want a top-down rethink of a business or product.  Few examples of IDEO’s design and prototypes include –

In this TED talk, Tim talks about taking an expansive view of design, focus less on the object, more on design thinking as an approach.  By doing so, you can tackle bigger and more interesting questions.  And you might see the result as a bigger impact. 

  • Design thinking starts with what humans need or might need.  Its often about understanding culture and context even before you start ideating.
  • Design thinking enables the shift from a passive relationship between consumer and producer to the active engagement of everyone in developing experiences that are meaningful, productive, profitable
  • Design thinking encourages to take a divergent approach, to explore new alternatives, new solutions, new ideas that have not existed before

Tim shares examples of how design thinking as a mindset or an approach has helped deliver bigger impact.  Aravind Eye Institute in Madurai (India) serves very poor patients by taking the revenues from those who can afford to pay to cross-subsidize those who cannot.  Additionally, the Institute has been very innovative to find cost effective solutions.  It has been willing to prototype ideas very early. 

  • They make their own intraocular lenses that replace those that are damaged by cataracts    
  • They used low cost CAD/CAM prototyping technology in the basement of one of their hospitals
  • Their prototyping approach has helped them bring the cost down from $200 a pair, down to just $4 a pair

How Airbnb designs for trust by Joe Gebbia

Joe Gebbia is a designer and chief product officer of Airbnb.  Airbnb started as a simple room-sharing service.  Joe and co-founders Brian Chesky and Nathan Blecharczyk reimagined the way the world travels and people connect.  They built Airbnb into a major disruptive force creating a new economy in the hospitality industry. 

Airbnb marketplace offers lodging, homestays and bed and breakfast facilities. If you are visiting Italy, use the Airbnb app to find a local resident in Tuscany who’ll offer a room in his apartment for a few days. You enjoy the Italy experience, and the homeowner earns extra income. This win-win arrangement has helped Airbnb grow at breakneck speed. In 2017, the company was valued at a whopping $31 billion.  

In this TED talk, Joe shows how the designing for trust helps overcome one of the deeply rooted biases, the stranger-danger bias.  The key for building trust is a well-designed reputation system and designing for the right amount of disclosure. Airbnb reveals the reviews only after both guests and hosts leave them.  People prefer associating with like-minded people, a natural social bias.  However, what happens when you add reputation (aka reviews) into the mix? Nothing changes if you get less than three reviews.  But everything changes if you get more than ten.  High reputation beats high similarity.

What a digital government looks like by Anna Piperal

Anna Piperal is a branding expert, digital enthusiast and ambassador for e-Estonia.  e-Estonia is a digital initiative to simplify citizen interactions with the state.  Today Estonia is called the most digital society on earth. In this TED talk, Anna Piperal shares the benefits of technology enabled ‘zero-bureaucracy’ government ecosystem.  The transformation of the state role and digitization of trust are the enablers for this development.

  • Estonians have been declaring taxes online since 2001.  All they have to do is sit on couch with a mobile phone, review a few pages with prefilled data on income and deductions and hit submit.  Within minutes, they’re looking at the tax return amount.  No need to do the math.  No need for tax advisors.  No need to collect receipts.
  • Estonians have been using digital identity and signature since 2002 and voting online since 2005. Today, the entire range of public services – education, starting a company, applying for benefits, reviewing health record, challenging a parking ticket, police, justice – everything is done online.
  • The government has also digitized itself.  For example – cabinet of ministers’ work in e-Cabinet is 100% paperless.

In fact, it’s much easier to tell what the three things are that Estonians cannot yet do online. They have to pick up their ID documents, get married or divorced, sell real estate. That’s it.  In this TED talk, Anna Piperal talks about the key design principles for e-Estonia –

  1. The first principle is to guarantee privacy and confidentiality of data and information through a strong digital identity that is issued by the state and compatible with everything
  2. The second and most transformative principle is ‘once only’.  It means that the state cannot ask for the same data more than once, nor can it store it in more than one place. 
  3. The third principle is reliability and integrity of information.  e-Estonia uses a form of blockchain to check and guarantee integrity of data in real time. 
  4. The fourth principle is that an individual is the owner of the data collected about him.  He has the absolute right to know what information is collected and who has been accessing it.

What has most value

Curiosity is a secret weapon because –

• It is a perpetual source of energy

• It expands your knowledge

• It is contagious

Curiosity leads you to ask deep, contemplative questions.  These questions help you think with clarity.  They take you further than most people ever do when they’re day dreaming or casually dozing off.  TED talks feed your curiosity across different subjects.

I’ll be updating this list whenever I watch new TED talks that I think will help you in becoming a better researcher and designer. Do subscribe to my blog to get automatic updates. You may also bookmark my blog. 

Which TED talks are your favorite?

Have you watched any other great talks that I’ve missed?  

Do share in the comments!

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