Letter From the Editor

Life is complex, often messy, and always glorious. It is this “stuff” that we sought to explore at TEDGlobal 2011 in Edinburgh, with more than 70 speakers and performers, and 850 attendees.

And explore we did. We learned a few things about who we are, what we do (and why we do it), and how we relate to each other. We understood a bit more about biology, emotions, culture, history, global affairs, and other complex systems in our life. We explored the dark side of our humanity, and what to do about it. We marveled at the latest discoveries and technologies—including advanced prosthetics and a robotic bird that flew above the audience—and generally investigated the stuff that makes life possible, interesting, and meaningful.

Because I curated the conference’s program, I’ve been invited to guest edit this special issue of design mind. We’ve organized the publication into four sections: Origins, Complex Systems, The Dark Side, and The Hidden Stuff. The topics were recurrent at TED-Global, and they encapsulate its theme best. This is not to say that there weren’t more. The 12 sessions, plus TED University, plus the TED Fellows conference generated enough “stuff” to fill three magazines. But while this issue covers some of what was discussed in Edinburgh, it is also meant to extend the conversation that started there, further exploring the ceaselessly fascinating landscape of The Stuff of Life.

Bruno Giussani
European Director, TED

Photography by Robert Leslie / Courtesy of TED

The Stuff of Life

Issue 15

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