James Zhang


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How I joined Ted and why other newcomers are AWESOME

How did you guys join Ted?

I'll start off. Here's my story.
During my internship over last summer, I actually had a lot of free time, probably because my manager wasn't quite sure how I can fit myself into most of the projects going on. They were either too advanced or too easy.

So I had time to ponder. And consume. And a lot of each.

I started getting more into hip hop and some music and watched a crap ton of Michio Kaku videos. But then, I stumbled upon Tupac Shakur, and I was actually listening to the lyrics he sang for the first time. But what REALLY hit me hard was this song:


It was a brilliant mash-up between two of the most influential names in hip hop and producing, Tupac and Nujabes. I started to realize, "What the heck, this isn't the crap I see on MTV," and then I realized many things, such as hip hop is a great form of expression, it can be very beautiful, cool, and I always find myself bobbing my head when I listen to good beats and great rapping. But those are other stories for another time ;)

Anyways, I delved deeper. I watched a bunch of interview videos of Tupac, listened to a few more songs, even watched Juice, the first movie he was in, which was about street crime and gang violence.

So after a while of more Kaku and Tupac, I started asking why?

Why was all this happening? Why was Tupac doing what he did? Why was there poverty? Why was their suffering? Why didn't the government understand?

That's when I understood Tupac.

And I couldn't stop my tears...

I understood his frustrations. He was an incredibly intelligent person coming from the ghetto, and all he did was rap songs of inspiration and addressing urban youth issues because:

That was the only thing he could do. The government and others didn't listen to him.

That's when I realized, I can do more. Kaku taught me thought. Tupac taught me compassion. And I have both deeply ingrained in my soul.

That is how I joined Ted.

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    Jul 16 2013: James, I had been watching TED talks online, but I had not noticed that you could do TED conversations. Then I bought a half gallon of raw milk, and I drank most of it really fast and got sick. So I started emailing with the owner of the raw milk company, Mark McAfee of Organic Pastures. He sent me a link to this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TVfmUfr8VPA, which is a TED talk having to do with the digestive system, and when I watched it I noticed TED conversations and got involved.

    By the way, after I got over my sickness I drank the raw milk that was left, but I drank it more slowly and was fine.
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      Jul 16 2013: I COULD do a TED conversation, but what I'm about to work on at IBM is big. It's BIGGER than anything a TED conversation can do for me and the world. It is not a good use of my time. And doing a TED Conversation is pretty fucking big, I realize that.

      HOWEVER, someone who realizes what I'm saying should do a Ted conversation in my place. :)
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        Jul 16 2013: Wait a second, James, I thought your conversation here was about us, why we joined TED conversations. Now you're talking about some other project of your own that's really important at IBM, what is the project?

        Why did you want to know how other people joined TED, what was your purpose?
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          Jul 16 2013: "Now you're talking about some other project of your own that's really important at IBM, what is the project?"

          Patience, you'll see when we show you just what I mean ;)

          But your questions, are the right questions. It's up for you guys to piece together the right answers.

          I'll give you a hint. All your questions are connected to each other in some way.
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        Jul 16 2013: Oh, I see, you don't mean how did we start participating in TED conversations, you mean why did we? Well, I enjoy understanding life, and I think by participating I can understand life better. Does this work for you, James, do you find you understand life better by participating in TED conversations?
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          Jul 16 2013: Well...

          That was a lot faster than I expected lol...
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    Jul 13 2013: And I can guarantee that more of those young newcomers who join, posting lengthy, intimidating posts of hardcore science and math and whatnot, were just like me. They probably couldn't resist the urge to share their thoughts somewhere where people may listen and engage with them, after coming to revelations after revelations of hard thought.

    So to add, thank you, all you regulars, for listening to me and my thoughts and revelations, and keep up the good work. Remember when I said they should pay people to just sit all day long on Ted forums? I'm not that crazy after all ;)