Live from TED

In case you missed it: Day 5 of TED2014

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Mark Ronson DJs the after-party at TED2014. Photo: Bret Hartman

Mark Ronson DJs the after-party at TED2014. Photo: Bret Hartman

This year’s packed conference came to a close on March 21, 2014: Day 5 at TED2014. Here are some highlights from this Friday:

Mark Ronson ruled the dance floor

On Thursday night, Mark Ronson DJ’d for TEDsters. Bent over the mixing board under a neon green TED sign, he tied all the music back to his talk, playing a set list that demonstrated how fragments of classic songs recur and evolve as they’re sampled by new generations.

Chris Kluwe juggled a whole bunch of balls in bowls

To open session 11, the Raspyni Brothers outfitted Chris Kluwe in a rather unusual getup: a T-ball helmet with a spike on top. They then managed to make him hold three spinning glass bowls — one on his head and two in his hands — with a bunch of bouncing balls in them. He even stood on one leg. Because, you know, why not?

Kevin Briggs reminded us that a listening ear is sometimes all it takes

Sergeant Kevin Briggs told powerful stories from his experience as a keeper of the Golden Gate Bridge — a first responder when someone is about to commit suicide by jumping off the bridge. He said that listening is critical, and often makes the difference between someone jumping or choosing to live. “Listen to understand,” he said. “Don’t argue or blame or say you know how they feel.” In his entire career, he has only lost two people to suicide — “two people too many,” in his view.

Gabby Giffords brought the whole audience to tears

Discussing the aftermath of the Arizona shooting, Gabby Giffords gave a touching interview with her husband, Mark Kelly, moderated by Pat Mitchell, president and CEO of the Paley Center for Media. The bullet wound caused aphasia, making it difficult for Gabby to put her thoughts into words, so Mark lovingly helped her tell their story — including the awesome fact that their first date was a visit to death row in an Arizona prison. (Um, what?) While the experience has been tough, Gabby said she prefers the ‘new’ Gabby: “better, stronger, tougher.” She also had a message for the audience: “Get involved with your community. Be a leader. Be passionate, be courageous, be your best self.”

Andrew Solomon delivered a pitch-perfect talk on identity and meaning 

How do you even sum up an Andrew Solomon talk? We’ll be brief: it was a stunningly eloquent, devastatingly honest meditation on how we have the greatest opportunity to heal and grow when we forge our own meaning from difficult experiences. As he reflected on his life now — a beautiful life forged out of years of bullying and shame — he said, “I tend to find the ecstasy hidden in ordinary joys, because I did not expect those joys to be ordinary to me.” Dagger through the heart. Everyone melted.

Julia Sweeney showed up on the telepresence robot

In a raucous final talk, comedian Julia Sweeney gave a hilarious recap of the conference. She started by wheeling out on the telepresence robot (yup, the same one Snowden used in his talk) and joking about being in a remote, undisclosed location backstage. The #snowbot will never get old.

And that’s a wrap, folks! Thanks for making TED2014 such a fantastic year. We look forward to sharing the talks with you online!