Pico Iyer’s travel writing chronicles fascinating (and often jarring) examples of cultural mashups. Now he shows how travel can rescue us from our technological distractions.

Why you should listen

Acclaimed travel writer Pico Iyer began his career documenting a neglected aspect of travel -- the sometimes surreal disconnect between local tradition and imported global pop culture. Since then, he has written ten books, exploring also the cultural consequences of isolation, whether writing about the exiled spiritual leaders of Tibet or the embargoed society of Cuba.

Iyer’s latest focus is on yet another overlooked aspect of travel: how can it help us regain our sense of stillness and focus in a world where our devices and digital networks increasing distract us? As he says: "Almost everybody I know has this sense of overdosing on information and getting dizzy living at post-human speeds. Nearly everybody I know does something to try to remove herself to clear her head and to have enough time and space to think. ... All of us instinctively feel that something inside us is crying out for more spaciousness and stillness to offset the exhilarations of this movement and the fun and diversion of the modern world."

What others say

“[Iyer] writes the kind of lyrical, flowing prose that could make Des Moines sound beguiling.” — Los Angeles Times

Pico Iyer’s TED talks

Pico Iyer on the TED Blog
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The evolution of a TED Book cover

November 12, 2014

In his talk, “Designing books is no laughing matter. OK, it is,” Chip Kidd (a TED Books designer in his own right) gives a wonderfully concise description of what book cover designers do. He says, “My job is to ask this question: ‘What do stories look like?’”   For David Shoemaker, the designer who made the […]

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The Art of Stillness in an age of distraction

November 4, 2014

The “T” in TED stands for technology. So it might sound counterintuitive that we would release a book about the need to unplug.  But we live in a madly accelerating world, where new technologies — for all their benefits — are making our lives more crowded, more chaotic and noisier than ever. There’s never been […]

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