"I thought, forget the rock opera, forget the bombast, the only thing I would be singing today is the facts," Bono proclaimed at his TED talk yesterday, "For I have truly embraced my inner nerd. So, exit the rock star. Enter the evidence activist. The 'factivist.'"
It was like he was announcing a whole new superhero identity! Painfully hip glasses required, no cape.
When TED organizer Chris Anderson asked Bono to speak at TED, he asked the U2 lead singer to give an overview of anti-poverty efforts in the last decade. But Bono wanted to look ahead by two decades. He thinks that in less than twenty years, aided by technology and social media, poverty could be zero.
Bono presented some factivist facts showing the success of anti-poverty campaigns to date. He noted that global mortality rates for children under five have fallen so that 7,256 fewer children die per day. His pointed out that the number of people living in what Bono calls "soul crushing poverty" (less than $1.25 per day) has fallen from 43% in 1990 to 21% in 2010. (Bono did clarify part way through his talk that he was referring to extreme poverty, not all poverty.) If this rate continues, the poverty rate reaches zero by 2013.
"For numbers crunchers like us [Ed. note: LOL], that's the erogenous zone," said the singer, "It's fair to say I'm sexually aroused by the collating of data." His enthusiasm has struck a cord with at least one TED-talk goer, Bill Gates, who tweeted: "Bono asks us all to become "factivists" at TED. I'm in!"
Bono has done the TED grandiloquence thing before. In 2005, he was one of the first to claim a TED prize, which awarded $100,000 to the winners. This investment helped to fund in One.org project to engage people with anti-poverty activism.