TEDxReporter Evelyn Grunau is capturing the TEDGlobal spirit during our TEDxAmsterdamLive viewing party.
So, what’s it like being at TEDGlobal? I am at day 3 and I am enjoying it. Even though I am not really at the Edinburgh International Conference Center in Scotland at all. Not physically. But since we are living in this always connected network society, I am at de Balie in Amsterdam and just as the audience in Edinburgh, we have a host (Sebastiaan Labrie) and I can see the speakers on stage. I listen, nod my head, frown, smile…while sitting in a comfy chair in front of a big screen. Add the live mindmap and visual Tumblr blog and you get the best conditions to be radically inspired by the TED talks about Radical Openness.
The only difference? We don’t clap – as loud.
We have a pickle problem
The first talk live broadcasted from Edinburgh is the one of Globalization Thinker Pankaj Ghemawat. As expected with a session topic such as Globality, indeed there are some graphs, and numbers, but also photographs telling the story about how emerging 3rd world countries are actually the 2nd biggest economic market on this planet. But Robert Neuwirth (author of ‘Stealth of Nations’) says we only focus on the “luxury markets”, we don’t look at the upcoming markets – we single out the bad pickles. From economics we move on to the future: school education. The “global talent pool” has changed since the 1960s: Shanghai and Korea now show the best results in the PISA test. According to Andreas Schleicher, head of PISA, we went from “delivered wisdom” with the all knowing teachers in front of the class room, to “user generated wisdom”.
Session one ends with more than a pickle problem: technical problems. Making us miss the beginning of Alex Salmond‘s (First Minister of Scotland) talk on how small countries can make a big impact and part of Pianist Natasha Paremski‘s performance. But that’s (in the word of our host) “how the cookie crumbles”. Technology is, after all, not perfect.
After Dutch Pieter Derks basically sums up the emergence and results of globalization in the Netherlands and sparkles his stand up comedy performance with references to the TED talks; part of the audience in de Balie takes the chance to relax and get more energy for the rest of the day taking part in a meditation session with Marjon van der Velden.
Where there is light, there is shade
Session two (named Shades of Openness) starts with German politician and Data Activist Malte Spitz talk about the masses of data his telecom operator gathered about him – and stored. Spitz used the data to digitally visualize his life on a map. He tells us to remember that privacy is still what it was in 1989: it is our privacy and we should continue to “fight for self determination in the digital age”. Ivan Krastev, talks about how transparence and openness can transform democracies and what went right and wrong the last years. The public is turning into ‘Big Brother’ by means of new technologies and social media, but after all it is still about trust, developing your own opinion and supporting what you believe in. Next Gerard Senehi, an Experimental Mentalist, takes the stage and…makes us go wow! (by making lit cigarettes float in the air for instance). Digital Anthropologist Gabriella Coleman asked herself the question: who is Anonymous and tells us what she found out. What they all share is that they care to protect the Internet, and are “not just geeks living in their parent’s basement.” After a TED Fellow talk, journalist Leslie T. Chang talks about the people that make the things we use everyday: from our iPhone to the clothes we wear. In her research she focused on Chinese assembly line workers, giving them a (honestly touching and funny) voice. Before getting back to the live program in Amsterdam, Neil Harbisson, born with the inability to see color, explains what it’s like to hear instead of see color. Ever thought about dressing in a way “that sounds good”, instead of looks good?
‘Back in Amsterdam’ our host introduces author Johan Fretz, in order to “keep the juices flowing”. Fretz also flows: he does not only talk (impressively), but is being accompanied by his brother (from a different mother) Marcel Harteveld on the guitar.
The brain – we all have one
After our lunch break we return to “our best friends for the next couple of hours” (the chairs) and tune back into the live stream from Edinburgh. Sarah Caddick (neuroscientist and guest host of the session) asks us to put aside all we (think) we know about the brain and see what happens when we Misbehave Beautifully. First up is Read Montague who talks about the thing everyone is interested in: other people; and what happens in their brains while (socially) interacting with each other. Followed by Mental Health Law Scholar Elyn Saks, diagnosed with schizophrenia, who shares her personal experiences with the brain disease: “the humanity we all share, is more important than the mental illness we might not share.” According to the next speaker, Ruby Wax, one in four people suffers from a mental illness, hence…she points out some in the crowd. The comedian and Mental Health Activist talks about her own mental health experiences and uses several creative tools on stage. Funny and educational at the same time. Vikram Patel continues the session and shares how he helps to bring better healthcare, especially to treat mental health issues, to communities with low-resources: with the help of members of the community. The red carpet has been removed from the TED stage and Wayne McGregor, together with his dancers, expresses thoughts through body movements: physical thinking. And then, after having announced earlier that her “afternoon performance will be dangerous”, Natasha Paremski’ is back on stage – and this time her piano stool was on the right hight. Last on stage for this session is Robert Legato. He plays with our minds and gets paid for it: he creatives visual effects for movies. Oscar winning movies we have probably all seen (Titanic ring a bell?).
See you tomorrow
After a short break we are back for the last session of today. The last TED talks for today are about the Long Term – the future, a sustainable future. Vicki Arroyo, an Environmental Policy Influencer, is the first to talk about how she thinks we all can help to prepare our world for the global climate change. NASA is not all about ‘going to space’, but also about renewable energy. Scientist Jonathan Trent shares his idea about growing micro algae, by cleansing wastewater and trapping carbon dioxide; all powered by solar power. And after water and sun, we turn to the power of wind in Hassine Labaied‘s talk about how he captures this power. Someone who is looking into the brains of our future (the adolescent brains) is Sarah-Jayne Blakemore. She shares what is different in the brains of young people and what this means for educational matters. Chris Anderson is back on stage and shows some pictures of the TEDx communities from all of the world that have tuned into the live stream. Of course the audience in de Balie goes whooo! when the picture from Amsterdam is seen on the screen in Edinburgh. Next on stage is Susan Solomon, a Stem Cell Advocate, who enables the support for human embryonic stem cell research in order to cure major diseases. A topic that concerns a lot of us, since sadly “people we care about will become patients”. After the first winners of the City 2.0 prize were announced, the new ‘system’ behind the TEDPrize was revealed. Ending the last session of the day in Edinburgh and by this also wrapping up my day of live blogging in Amsterdam, are two musicians: the guitarists Usman Riaz and Preston Reed. A young guitar player and his big idol having a jam session: an inspiring ending for a session about the future.
TED makes time fly
And while the audience in Amsterdam enjoys its “dessert” (Johan Fretz and Marcel Harteveld doing their great performance once more), I make my own little recap of the day: what was a bit distracting today, in a good way though, was the screen showing the Tumblr blog in action: one could follow the mouse icon how it searched, picked and added pictures to the visual blog. Plus the live map helped a lot to be able to just sit back and listen: knowing that someone else was taking ‘notes’ for you. And yes, it was a long day, but I have made the experience before (while clicking from one TED talk to the next, or during the TED Talent search last week): TED makes time fly. Besides, the program on location also took good care of us: mind- and also body wise. The stand-up comedy, live music, talks and meditation in the breaks stimulated our risible muscles, kept us fresh and gave us more things to think and talk about.
Goodbye from Amsterdam and good news: TEDGlobal has another two days to go in Edinburgh!