There are good reasons to watch this clip of film critic and cancer survivor Robert Ebert’s presentation earlier this year at the TED conference in California.
Ebert is an inspiration: Thyroid cancer has ravaged his body. He has no lower jaw. It can be difficult to look at, especially for those who well-remember what he looked like before the disease struck. But Ebert hasn’t slowed down. Not a bit. He’s an online workhorse, with a website overflowing with reviews, commentary and copious movie knowledge.
He’s a tech geek: Ebert embraced the Internet early on (CompuServe, anyone?) and now wields it like a seasoned warrior. His use of social media is prolific; his Twitter feed is one of the most entertaining on Earth. And did we mention he has a website?
We live in interesting times: In this presentation, Ebert’s wife and two friends help present his words. Ebert can no longer speak; he uses a text-to-speech program, called Alex, that’s installed on his MacBook. It’s remarkably easy to listen to. Ebert considers himself fortunate that he was born in this era. “For me, the Internet began as a useful tool and now has become something I rely on for my actual daily existence,” Ebert says. “[If this had happened before], I’d be isolated as a hermit; I’d be trapped inside my head. Because of the digital revolution, I have a voice, and I do not have to scream.”