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Human Potential in the Age of Exponential Tech

Ted Tuesday – J.J. Abrams and the Mystery Box

It’s time for another TED Tuesday! I’m so glad everyone is enjoying them, the feedback I have gotten from people has been great, and I have gotten a lot out of the conversations so far! This week, I’ve chosen one of my favorite heroes, TV genius J.J. Abrams.

J.J. is the brains behind two awesome shows: Alias and Lost. I just fell in love (read: became addicted)  with the unique way he weaves a story. Feeding you enough information so that you’re hooked, but never enough that you’re satisfied. Truth be told, it’s a love hate relationship, I have. Especially with LOST – that hatch was driving me crazy!

He is a member of an elite breed of writers that can keep you on the edge of your pants and completely in the dark for an entire season. You just never know what he’s going to do. And everything is so intricate, that you know you have to pay close attention to every scene because every little bit matters in the end. I love his reveals, the way he shows you the clues that have been hidden in plain sight all of this time.

In this talk, he talks about his love for mysteries and the magical gift his grandfather gave him that has inspired him ever since.

Why You Should Watch

As the Emmy-winning creator of the smart, addictive TV dramas Lost, Alias and Felicity, J.J. Abrams’ name looms large on the small screen. As the writer/director behind the blockbuster explode-a-thon Mission: Impossible III, the upcoming Cloverfield and the next Star Trek movie, these days Abrams also rules the big screen — bringing his eye for telling detail and emotional connection to larger-than-life stories.

Abrams’ enthusiasm — for the construction of Kleenex boxes, for the quiet moments between shark attacks in Jaws, for today’s filmmaking technologies, and above all for the potent mystery of an unopened package — is incredibly infectious.

My Favorite Part

I love the part where he talks about how technology has helped us bypass the traditional systems that would have normally prevented us from making movies, and now anyone can do it.

“The creation of stuff is democritized… Go make your movie. There’s nothing stopping you from going out there and getting the technology. You can lease, rent, buy stuff off the shelf just as good as the stuff that’s used by the [pros].”

I love that, there will always be challenges, but no more limits to what your creativity can do.

My Take

I love the mystery box, it’s how I feel when I open a new document to write a story. The anticipation is also mixed with a sense of knowing that no matter what I write, it will never be as good as the potential of what I could write, of everything that page can be. Humans are obsessed with possibilities, with the potential turns our lives can take, and I think the mystery box captures that feeling perfectly.

Sometimes not knowing is better than knowing.

Are there areas in your lives where you feel the same type of potential? When anything and everything is possible? I love those moments because they open your eyes to things we otherwise would dismiss.

Some Extras:

This LOST video made me laugh because it goes through seasons 1-3 and highlights every time a character says “what?” They say it a lot, I probably say it twice as much each time I watch an episode. If you haven’t seen it, give it a chance. Try watching the first season and then stop. I dare you.

Oh and if there are any Alias fans out there, I wanted to post an awesome clip from Robot Chicken called “Whalias” but thanks to copyright laws, I can’t find it anywhere. Thanks antiquated legal system.

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