TEDGlobal Day 5: What's Next from the 'Things We Make'?


They say that all good things must come to an end. As much as I'm sad that I wrote this entry, I know that my TEDGlobal 2011 adventure doesn't end here in Edinburgh. It still lives on with numerous other TEDx events held around the world in their respective communities.



Session 11 'Things We Make' gave us an introspective into their impact. It was no longer about just the tangible, but also the services.



Neil MacGregor from the British Museum shared a story revolving around an exhibit known as the Cyrus Cylinder and how it's links to the Persian region's roots could very well serve to reinforce and continue the human narrative and cultural exchange. A story of how such an ancient relic impacted the legacy of modern day Iran, even though it's currently at display inside the British Museum. As he talked about how the museum decided to send this relic to Tehran as a sign of gesture, he showed a photo of the current President. You could say that he wanted to revive a bit of the message that these ancient relics carry with them as they stand the test of time.


Ben Kacyra gave a live demonstration of his invention CyArk, an invention that could very well be used to digitally preserve the natural wonders that surround us. In a matter of minutes, it's able to scan and record every nook and cranny of an edifice regardless of its age and size - even down to the cracks. He even shared a positive use of the system, when a landmark that was scanned was completely destroyed a year late. 


Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg, a designer who recently graduated from college, chose to talk about the macroscopic view of how we can design nature itself. Though her background stemmed from architecture, she explored things like how colors can be drawn from bacteria. Even the prospect of machining the whole design.


Closing off this session was none other than TED 2004 speaker and famed author Malcolm Gladwell, who returned to talk about the Norden bomb shelter and how the things we make can really have an impact on our lives. From the days of the WW to its modern descendants, it was evident that not everything we do can positively impact others.


TEDGlobal 2011 timelapse from TED Blog on Vimeo.


After our time, we made our way back to Holyrood Park and dropped off our cycles. Everyone else who was present for lunch had already left and place was barren as a ghost town but still sunny and bright. I said my goodbyes to a great bunch of people that I've met along with exchanging contact details. We walked it back with a few other TEDsters to the EICC, as we basked in the scenery surrounding us. When we reached the Sheraton, we parted ways and I said my final goodbyes to those on the cycle tour. I realized that those 6 days really brought out something inside, and also fueled my passion and efforts to pursue the very things that have helped justify my journey to TEDGlobal. With this, I bring my Scotland adventure to a close but it's not the end.


I'd like to personally thank you for taking the effort of reading each of my entries. I hope you found it worth it, especially if you felt that you were present just as you read it. Watch for some surprises this Tuesday ;)





The last session of TEDGlobal 2011, 'Next Up', didn't want to just end on a high note but also continue the discourse beyond the end of the conference program.




Markus Fischer and his team have been trying to crack the code behind bird flight. Birds flap so fast that even rapid photography limits the way we can find the secret to flight, so taht one day humans can even soar high in the skies. Using a seagull as a reference and his team of engineers, he crafted a light-weight bird that weighs only around 0.5kg. With a sample in his hands, he explains the intricate systems that would help it fly like a bird using nothing but the action of flapping its wings. The audience were in for a treat when they released it high into the air as it flapped around the auditorium and landed back into the owner's hands, only for it to be back again for an encore.

Before the curtains closed on the last speaker, Bruno and Chris shared some insight into this year's TEDGlobal. They thanked all the partners who have helped to make the inaugural Edinburgh chapter that much more memorable. They even shared some details about the social spaces, especially with regards to the big  In addition, they even played the following stop-motion video that showed the preparations that went into it:







TEDGlobal Day 4: Workshops and movie screening to Embracing Otherness and Feeling



Day 4 started off in a different way. A month prior to the main conference program, all attendees received an email that had selections of either workshops or an exclusive screening of Google/YouTube's "Life In A Day" movie. Each of the workshops were hosted by Levi's, Blackberry, and Coffee Common; all of them are partners in some manner for TEDGlobal 2011.






When I awoke the next day to sign up for one of the workshops, they were all taken. Luckily, the movie screening wasn't even filled up.  Dan Cobley from Google helped to kick things off to give the audience an insider about the movie. The origins can be traced back to Google's private version of Dragon's Den (It's a TV series, and highly recommended to watch). They chose to try something new with regards to film making, and crowd-sourcing it seemed like a big feat. They narrowed their window to one date - July 24, 2010. With many people scattered across the globe, they were sent cameras, which would then record that one day and send the footage back to YouTube for processing and rough cuts. Dan said that it took quite a while to view and select the required clips. 










Session 8 'Embracing Otherness' almost brought out the 2 sides to the coin for the speakers, along with the 2 sides of each of those sides. Who knows how many others these people have been in their past years? Actress Thandie Newton (Zimbabwean with British nationality - you'll remember her from Mission Impossible 2) shared her personal account of how she found herself from being a child of 2 different cultures and of playing different roles in her movies. It chronicled her journey of self-discovery, as she described how each of us have on side to ourselves and another self that we could take for granted, yet it would ground us to our roots. 






Yang Lan, known as the 'Oprah of China', breaks away from the usual stigma and stereotype of a typical female host for a TV series. Taking on the role of hosting the first-ever unscripted TV show for the Chinese, she molded herself as being 'herself' rather than the usual 'sweet, beautiful and innocent' - which proved to be the stigmatized requirements for TV show hosts. Looking at her reminded me of Oprah, and I'm sure she'd die for Yang Lan's audience - 250 million watch her on TV and millions more to her site.






Pauline Chen, a surgeon, gives her perspective of how she faced death through the patients she treats. Putting the role of doctors into focus, she summarizes that not having cured someone of a life-threatening ailment means that doctors haven't saved a life. Even touching upon how all the attendees present are already dying, though at different rates. You could say that as she shared accounts of people who have been on the death-bed, she also shared the outcome of how they died a peaceful death that was beyond recovery. I'd say that she rehumanized medicine as being compassionate and one with patients, and that earned her a standing ovation.






Charles Hazlewood, a musical conductor, helps to close off this session. He narrowed it down on the topic of trust, especially when trust between him and the orchestra plays a role in the music. He spins it into a musica narrative that is born out of mutual respect with a mixture of body language. Within minutes, musicians come out from the audience as they play the violin and choreographing their way towards the stage. With a small applause, Charles presents members of the Scottish Ensemble.








 Bringing Day 4 to a close, everyone packed out of the social spaces and the presentation area. Some chose to head back to the hotels to switch to more evening appropriate wear while the rest forged on to the Sheraton for the evening party. Quite a packed place in contrast to my Day 0 adventure when we used the exact same space for unconference activities with other TEDx organizers.







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TEDGlobal Day 3: All things TEDxWomen, Future Billions to Bodies, and TEDxChange gathering



Sticking to our usual TEDx program, day 3 kicked off at the social spaces in the lower level of the EICC as TEDxWomen took the stage. Pat Mitchell from the Paley Centre for Media, who also helped to co-host the one-off TEDWomen in December 2010, was on hand to share details along with Betsy Scolnik. Seeing the success of TEDWomen, it's now become TEDxWomen in collaboration with TED. Some of the details on hand included that there will be 2 sessions in the U.S - one in Washington D.C and the other in LA (unless my memory serves me right). The date has been set for December 1. Lara, being the Director of TEDx licensing, was at hand along with June Cohen to share here thoughts.


Opening it up to other TEDx organizers, I jumped in with the thought that this shouldn't just focus on women but also younger girls as they play a bigger role in society. What followed also included insightful contributions on how TEDx events around the world can join in on the conversation on the event day, not just restricting it to watching a simulcast.

In addition, today 1000s of people across the world will be watching Day 3 of TEDGlobal 2011 courtesy of TEDxLive-based events through numerous TEDx simulcasts being held concurrently. Plus, I got an email saying that all TEDx organizers should be in the live presentation hall for Session 6. I don't know what to expect, but I drilled that reminder deep into my subconscious.

Jae Rhim Lee came up on stage wearing something black that was laced with threads-like features, only for her to highlight that she's engineering a way for our bodies to be decomposed back into nature using the power of mushrooms. A TED Fellow, she coins it as the 'Infinite Burial Project'; she feels that the nutrients that are trapped in our body can be recycled back into nature if the dead are clothed in the very black dress she is wearing on stage.

Marco Tempest really played with our psyche when he used cyber illusion to give a great performance. Using open-source tools and the wonders of technology, he live animated a living stick-figure with which he was interacting as if it was a live person.



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TEDGlobal Day 2: Professors wrap up and speakers take stage

Day 2 kicked off in full throttle at 7:30AM , as a bunch of TEDx organizers convened in the social spaces 2 levels below in the EICC. As part of our schedule, all of the TEDx team along with the attending TEDx organizers will be convening to meet for brainstorming sessions  with respect to each of the official TEDx events that have been announced: TEDxYouth, TEDxWomen, TEDxChange, and last but not the least TEDxWWW.



First up was brainstorming for TEDxWWW. Plenty of people were bitten by the early bird bug, as TEDx organizers and the TEDx team were present at Club TEDx. Bruno Giussani was on hand for a while before he had to head up to prepare for the conference opening with Chris Anderson. As the meeting began, plenty of questions were thrown around regarding how TEDxWWW will be structured as it will be taking place in Qatar on April 2012. Confusion did ensue from one question to another, but it was clear that this is a TEDx event for TEDx organizers. Amanda Palmer helped to dispel any misconceptions revolving around TEDxWWW. Topics regarding content, curation, and more were being thrown around by other TEDx organizers. One thing to highlight is that the attendees have a good amount of input towards TEDxDoha - this will be happening on the very next day when TEDxWWW ends. TED is even getting involved with the workshop, and playing a smaller role in TEDxDoha as they see the community taking the lead towards helping to curate the talks.


Some even claimed that the whole purpose of TEDxWWW was miscommunicated, and still confused many people. Even the TEDx team have taken it upon themselves to workout as much as possible before registration begins in October 2011.

It was after all this frantic discussion that many of us hustled to the Royal Lyceum Theatre to attend TED U Session 2. Since many of us were held back, we were fortunate enough to get seats on the upper level. Call it coincidence, but I was wanting to be seated higher up so that I have the chance to capture good moments from the talks. Good thing my camera and camcorder were charged up to capture some of the action.

Session kicked off with a focus on prototyping by Jeremy Moon, CEO of Icebreaker. He talked about the power of design thinking and how everyone in an organization regardless of department has a role to play.

Chris Anderson and Bruno Giussani kick off TEDGlobal 2011 with Session 1: Beginnings. Since I anticipated that there wouldn't be any seating left in the main auditorium after the meeting, I stayed in the social spaces to watch it onscreen. I had a nice social company and unlimited amounts of coffee, tea, snacks and more to accompany my brain's hunger pangs.



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TEDGlobal Day 1: Swollen numbers, tours, and insights

Day 1 begins at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre as 100s more of attendees flock in for their registration checkin. I realized that I had my voucher to pick up my TED Gift bag, but I'm saving that for later.


1. Around 9:30, we were off to our tour with the Scotsoun House by Arup being our first stop. Parallel to the tours, TED was having the TED Fellows speak at the Lyceum Theatre across 2 different sessions. Many things overlapped, but the tour was worth it.

2. Scotsoun House that was designed and run by Arup. That's not the only thing, as they are currently working on the Falkirk Wheel (See the photo as it's just awe-inspiring in pictures than in words).

3. Afterwards, it was onwards to the Rosyth Dockyards across the bridge. Though it's called by that name, it's managed by a company Babcock. Now, due to the nature of work that involves government and security, I wasn't allowed to take any pictures.

That also surprised someone else. Dr. Bob Monroe (Associate Dean of Carnegie Mellon Qatar) was also attending, but he didn't know that I was. I caught him by surprise as I was just passing by the registration queue when I spotted him and then he spotted me.

As we finished the last leg of the tour, we began our journey back to the Royal Lyceum Theatre where we would begin with the 1st session of TED University (a.k.a TED U). Now, this is a platform where the attendees have applied beforehand to share something that they are doing or have discovered.


After the nice intellectual spoon-feeding of these amazing TED U Professor's ideas, we were whisked away to the Welcome Party at Edinburgh Castle. Now, the entire city is quite hilly and reminded me of Pittsburgh but it was on a short route to an amazing breathtaking view of the entire city.

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TEDGlobal torrential TEDx downpour


Though TEDGlobal 2011 runs from July 11 – 15, you could say that by following simple math that July 10 would be Day 0. What a day it turned out to be!


Presentations from TEDx organizers included: 


  1. Ramy Nassar from TEDxWaterloo

  2. Houssem Aoudi from TEDxCarthage (Tunisia)

  3. Ahmad Coucha from TEDxCairo

  4. Andre Cester Costa from TEDxAveiro

  5. Vlad Fiscutean from TEDxTimisoara

  6. John Werner from TEDxBoston (Who is also organizing an amazing bike ride following the farewell lunch)

  7. Nate Mook from the height-defying TEDxEverest (That's 18,000ft above ground).


A slew of announcements were interspersed in between the TEDx presentations.


  1. Pat Mitchell, who had initially proposed the one-off TEDWomen that took place in December 2010, is now officially making it as TEDxWomen in partnership with TED.

  2. TEDxChange, managed by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, was on hand to announce that TEDxChange will be happening in Beijing on March 2012.

  3. TEDxWWW (WWW stands for WorldWide Workshop) will be hosted by the Doha Film Institute. This is meant for all TEDx organizers, where we bring them all together for 2.5 days, that will be immediately followed by TEDxDoha.







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