TED News in Brief: Diana Nyad on “Dancing with the Stars,” Mikko Hyponnen boycotts the RSA security conference, and more

Posted by:
"Sitting is the smoking of our generation." Nilofer Merchant said it in her TED2013 talk about walking meetings. Photo: James Duncan Davidson

“Sitting is the smoking of our generation.” Nilofer Merchant said it in her TED2013 talk about walking meetings. Photo: James Duncan Davidson

While we’ve been preparing for next week’s TED conference in Vancouver, BC, some TEDsters have been busy Dancing with the Stars, protesting the NSA and musing on the aftermath of speaking at TED. Here are some illustrious activities from around the TED world this week:

Nilofer Merchant (watch her TED Talk) admits that she had hoped for fame and glory after giving her talk at TED2013 last year but found that, to her surprise, her message reached further than her name. Over at LinkedIn, Merchant reflects honestly and thoughtfully on life after the TED Talk. And how the phrase “sitting is the smoking of our generation” has taken on a life of its own.

Diana Nyad (watch her talk) has left no doubt that she’s superhuman, but can she bring it on the dance floor? The 64-year old marathon swimmer will be competing on Season 18 of Dancing with the Stars — along with fellow TED star Amy Purdy, the Paralympic champion snowboarder. Watch her talk, “Living Without Limits.”

Writer John Stonecypher imagines Jesus’ five sermons as TED Talks in the piece, “If Jesus gave a TED Talk.” He boils it down to four main points: rethink power, rethink sex, rethink money, and rethink culture.

Mikko Hyponnen (watch his TED Talk) is boycotting this year’s RSA security conference after the RSA’s $10 million contract with the NSA came to light. Hyponnen spoke instead at TrustyCon, an alternate “trustworthy technology conference,” and discussed “Governments as Malware Authors.”

Privacy activist Christopher Soghoian (watch his TED Talk) hosted Edward Snowden via videostream in a Q&A session at the SXSW festival. Snowden, who has been living in exile in Russia since leaking classified NSA documents, urged private tech companies like Google to fortify their encryption systems to protect against governmental surveillance programs.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange also appeared remotely at SXSW, via Skype. Assange harshly criticized the NSA’s influence over the Obama administration, and shared his fears that in the near future, we will all be digitally monitored.

At TED2013, ShaoLan Hsueh shared “How to learn and read Chinese … with ease.” Now, she’s released Chineasy, a book with her image-based system for learning the language, and a first online lesson, above.

Maria Shriver asked 12 deep questions of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (watch her TED Talk, and read about her TEDx talk being sampled by Beyonce). A sample question: “What qualities does a remarkable woman possess?” Adichie’s answer: “Kindness, self-love, honesty, curiosity, intelligence.”

Hetain Patel (watch his TED Talk) has a new work, called American Boy, which is crafted entirely from quotes from American movies. It premieres in May at Sadler’s Wells in London.

Brian Greene (watch his TED Talk) has launched World Science U, which brings abstract ideas easy to understand through animations, interactive demonstrations and more.

And finally, Craig Venter (watch his talk), Peter Diamandis (watch any of his three talks) and company have started a new company: Human Longevity, Inc. It’s dedicated to genomics and cell therapy-based diagnostics and therapies.

Starting March 17, follow TED2014 on the TED Blog »

Be a part of the next TED conference, TEDGlobal 2014, taking place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in October »