Prashanth Gopalan

Founder & Curator, TEDxUW


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If you could spend one day in a great library studying anything you wanted, what would you study?

People don't read and think for themselves anymore. Maybe this is an age-old problem, maybe not. Regardless, I hope that asking this question will spur people on to think about what interests them, what makes them curious, and to go and actively pursue knowledge on that subject.

To help people read, think and speak for themselves again -- that should be a goal of every human capable of thought.

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    Apr 17 2013: If library is really great one, book will choose me. My book is waiting for me. I know very little, how can I choose best for me. You believe it or not... It happens with me.
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    Apr 16 2013: "The art of not studying" and hope to get the sister book with 10 simple laws stating "art of knowing"
  • Apr 17 2013: metaphhysics!!!!
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    Apr 17 2013: World history and philosophy :) (Though I don't think one day is enough to cover them all... :'< )
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    Apr 16 2013: One day?! That's tragic right there. I would study as much as I possibly could on World War I and II.
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    Apr 15 2013: I would undoubtedly indulge myself in the works of Ayn Rand.

    Being that we are a social species, we should always cherish the intellectual exchange of ideas. However, we’ve increasingly isolated ourselves from one another with technology. As a result, we no longer search in depth for answers and understanding—we simply consult Google or Wikipedia. Libraries are quickly becoming places of antiquity.

    One of my all-time favorite quotes comes from Socrates: “Employ your time in improving yourself by other men's writings, so that you shall gain easily what others have labored hard for.”
  • Apr 14 2013: The internet probably has that many books. I find myself using Wiki to answer most of the questions I would have for such a library. So I would probably just walk around and see what others were looking at in response to my curiosity.
  • Apr 14 2013: I do love books on various subjects which include Palaeontology and various other subjects that deal with our distant past.
    Having just a day would sure put a crush on what I'd want to read about.
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    Apr 14 2013: My one day in a great library would be a day of dedication towards the works of the late Clive Staples Lewis; I would find interest in all of his works, even the stories such as the amazing Space Trilogy that I've already read, and I would enjoy reading the Christian apologetic books he has published, all of which entice thought and creativity.

    After that, I would finish the day off by finding my way through the wardrobe, with just enough time remaining to greet the great Aslan.

    “I was the lion who forced you to join with Aravis. I was the cat who comforted you among the houses of the dead. I was the lion who drove the jackals from you while you slept. I was the lion who gave the horses the new strength of fear for the last mill so that you should reach King Lune in time. And I was the lion you do not remember who pushed the boat in which you lay, a child near death, so that it came to shore where a man sat, wakeful at midnight, to receive you.”
    ― C.S. Lewis, The Chronicles of Narnia - the Horse and His boy
  • Apr 14 2013: Successful Family Enterprise: Their are certain basic structural and relationship actions, decisions, traditions, estate planning vital details, holiday meal gathering, and much more that particular families accomplish. I witness loving leadership styles of both matriarchs and patriarchs; and sometimes am literally AWED by the graciousness of particular family leaders. The celebration of work ethic, the joys of HARD WORK, always resulting is Goal Achievements one finds in any successful both individuals and of course FAMILIES.

    Studying these families in the library is a beautiful idea, AND participating in retreat weekends also comes to mind. I absolutely believe these accomplishments takes REAL dedicated, consistent effort. A certain amount of good fortune, lots of faithful prayers and worship, bible study time and the elders must take care of the children/grandchildren. Eventually, the children also will need to care for the frail elders quite often. "A Circle of Care" may encapsulate the whole subject !! :):):) Consistently committed leadership also will always be present in the more successful families.

    Finally, I am now very curious what studies and while papers and thesis have been done on this subject. It is a tremendously rich and societally rewarding topic that America certainly NEEDS in order to grow GDP, jobs, ourselves and our families. Thank you Prashanth for the excellent table topic !!! :):):)
  • Apr 20 2013: Robotics, and the many different languages of programming.
    these are some of the things that have interested me this year, but not yet have i learned them ..
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    Apr 19 2013: I am going to assume you mean a physical library? To answer your question directly: If I could spend a day in a great library, I would spend some time looking at their rare and precious books, but mostly I would study the people who go to these libraries, the people who work there, and what they do.

    I must say I disagree with your premise that reading means that you think for yourself, and how would blind people answer this question? Reading is but one of many ways of receiving information, knowledge, and wisdom, and there are those who rely on reading to the exclusion of direct experience. In fact, I could go so far as to argue that if you really want to go out and pursue knowledge, stop reading and get out into the real world.

    For me, what your question points more to, is the extent to which people are manipulated by others - by our media in all its forms. When we read or view any sort of media, do we think for ourselves?
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    Apr 19 2013: The first thing I would look at is material on belly dancing. Lately I've been getting very interested in this subject, and I'd like to see if they have anything new.
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    Apr 19 2013: A day? I would spend my whole life in a great library to study to satisfy the hunger for knowledge, and partially to catch up on reading that I have never done before in my childhood.
    My passion lies on making earth as liveable as possible. global warming is no longer a myth, just a fact that everybody want to forget in today's torrent of economic crisis.
    My reading lists will be segregated to several parts:
    Studying the elemental mechanism of global warming, dating to the prehistoric past
    Occasional drifting to interesting and unrelated subjects to refresh the mind
    Learning from the precedented efforts made by concerned citizens of earth
    Reading biographies of inspiring leaders to keep the motivation high
    Explore the possible methods of saving the earth, and establish networks with the authors of academic papers for collaboration.
    These would sum up my entire life in the great library. it is humanly impossible to live in the library for the rest of your life, but it should always be a second home for everybody as it is indeed the only place that meet your intellectual demand as a human being.
  • Apr 19 2013: 1st 15min the physics of running..second 15 min speed reading... so I could get to the other sections as fast as i could and read as much as i can, before they unfairly close the doors.
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    Apr 19 2013: If I could spend one day in a great library, I spend every second scanning and posting to the internet. Starting with historical documents; hopefully including pre-1780s America documents including ship logs with cargo manifest and any documents on the original Viking 9-noble virtues.
    But if I could aid the greatest library (the internet) in any interest other than my own, I would be delighted.

    And the next day I start a crowd-source to get them transcribed.
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    Apr 19 2013: I will spend my time on writing skill learning.I think it is the most important skill for students who want to go aboard for improve themselves.As I know the English teacher only impart the English text contents to students in China,simply as vocabulary and fudemental grammar in university if your major isn't English.It would be difficult to me as my major is photography when I plan to attend to the foreign country for postgraduate.
  • Apr 19 2013: If the library had an extensive archive section I'd likely just lose myself in there for the whole day! I always find it comforting to be surrounded by old books and materials.
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    Apr 19 2013: Top 3
    1. Cosmology
    2. Neuropsychology
    3. Hinduism
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    Apr 19 2013: My answer to your title question is this; I would study the amazing people it would attract.
  • Apr 18 2013: I would probably study human anatomy and embryology. The intricacy and sheer genius of the human body never fails to astonish me and the way in which genes and transcription factors carefully align and activate cells is incredible. The two combined seem impossibly complicated, I think it's fascinating.
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    Apr 18 2013: Among many topics which I could very easily (and happily!) spend my entire day reading about, maybe spending the time studying the decline in people seeming to want to extend their knowledge and study in the first place could be interesting...

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    Apr 18 2013: .
    I would study invalid (ineffective or harmful) happiness.
  • Apr 18 2013: Books give us information and direct us. But the main lessons we need to learn we don't ''read'' from books. And yes, in order to read the best one, I need 1000 books to read.
  • Apr 14 2013: How many libraries are not great libraries? Ignoring that, I have many interests. Of course, really amazing books that I can't get access to are not in English. So I can't read them. English versions of our core thought are widely available. Do you want to read the most modern texts? or the tiny number of books that Western thought is based upon. Malthus, Darwin, etc. are widely available.
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    Apr 14 2013: Where I live reading is really a popular pastime, along with creative ventures. Our former city librarian is considered such a rock star, there is an action figure of her. She also has a weekly book show on the city's cable channel. I don't know anyone who doesn't read.

    The sorts of things I like to study don't squeeze well into a day, so I will fudge some on that aspect of your question. Lately I have been reading neuroscientists talking about neuroscience/science of mind. I approach this with a combination of reading intended for a general audience and science textbook. One thing I am really grateful about from my education is that I have adequate background, content and method, to jump into this sort of project.

    I have access online to a great library, but lots of times I get a copy of the book if I can, because i underline and make margin notes.

    I am also part of a couple of learning communities on two different subjects for which I do reading of articles and books and hear lectures.

    What would you/do you study?