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Stone Roses in Phoenix Park by Ann Treacy
July 31, 2012, 6:12 pm
Filed under: Dublin

So what would make going to see the Stone Roses outside even better? Going with the same person you would have gone with 20 years ago! So I was thrilled to learn that my old friend Janet was going to the show too. She reminded me that we had seen Happy Mondays together back in the day. And amazingly enough the good weather held out for the show. So we went with 45,000 of our best friends to see the show in Phoenix Park.

It was lucky that the weather was good –because no matter how you slice it – it was 2-3 miles to walk to the part of the park with the show, which is a fun walk if the weather is good but could have been miserable it if had been raining. The show was good – it could have been louder – but everyone was singing along and they played all of the top hits from back in the day!

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Aine’s Birthday at Sea Point by Ann Treacy
July 31, 2012, 5:50 pm
Filed under: Dublin

The weather has been dicey at best this summer. So we hoped that we’d get some good luck for Aine’s birthday because I knew she’s want to go for a picnic at Sea Point, which has become a tradition. And luckily we did get a decent day for her birthday. We had a nice picnic with the whole family and then the girls and I went for a walk down the West Pier in Dun Laoghaire. We didn’t see any seals, which was too bad – but we had a really nice day. Celebrating your birthday in Ireland isn’t always the best – so I was glad that it worked out for Aine. And really we chose to celebrate over 3 days to make sure that we’d be able to get to the beach.



Finally a Look at Edinburgh by Ann Treacy
July 31, 2012, 5:49 pm
Filed under: Edinburgh

So the best thing about TED, was TED – but only because TED is so good, because Edinburgh is still one of my favorite cities – and I did get to see some bits and pieces between sessions. Well really most of what I saw I saw on the first and last days – but I still saw some.

I met someone on the bus from the airport on the Edinburgh and we hung out until we could actually check into the hotel. We went to enjoy a drink at the café where JK Rowling wrote Harry Potter. Luckily I happened to remember where it was from our last (aka only other) trip to Edinburgh. Also on one of my morning walks I actually saw a fox behind the Edinburgh Castle.

The rest of just sort of nice pictures of great parts of Edinburgh – no real accompanying stories.



TED Global: Day Five by Ann Treacy
July 31, 2012, 9:10 am
Filed under: Edinburgh | Tags:

The final day of TED was a little bitter sweet. The week had been amazing – but frankly I needed some sleep so I was OK with it ending. The theme for the morning was the public sphere, which like Day 4 fit in pretty well with my work, which always ups the interest.

Kirby Ferguson spoke about creative mashups and copyright. The question being how much can we borrow before it’s considered stealing. The example – Minnesota’s own Bob Dylan. I think music is a good example because I think sometimes musicians collaborate, sometimes they willfully borrow large rifts and sometimes I think the music goes into the subconscious remixes itself and pops out without the instrument knowing the origin.

Michael Anti gave an interesting talk on the Internet in China. Yes it’s censored – but that doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to communicate under the radar and at least the transport is there is carry the message. Similar to the talk on factory girls in China it was an interesting glimpse at life from a different perspective.

Margaret Heffernan was possibly my favorite speaker. No PPT, no visuals – she just spoke about openness alone won’t drive change. You also need people with the courage to speak up when they think things aren’t right. And that might mean morally right – but that might also people technically right. Sometimes that just means have a team diverse enough to see things from different angles. Interesting stat – 85 percent of people are afraid to speak up even when they think something is wrong. And again we’re not talking morally – we’re talking technically or structurally. I think we need to use the power poses Amy Cuddy spoke about to get the guts to tell our truths. But I also think organizations need to learn to be open enough to hear when they are wrong.

Daria Musk is an inspiring musician who spoke/sang about how she used Google+ Hangouts to create her career. I heard about Google+ from a few musicians. It made me think that maybe there’s hope for Google+. Or like MySpace, maybe Google+ is going to be a realm mostly for musicians (and people interested in finding musicians).

Clay Shirky talked about tools that allow for cooperation without coordination. Interesting on two fronts – first because it opens the door to crowdsource and second because without coordination sustaining the conversation/effort becomes much easier.

Back to reality – so after not much planning and due to being much more tired than I anticipated I ironically waited 4 hours for a train, which everyone expected to be cancelled due to flooding and mud slides in England. Then I took the train from Edinburgh, through Chester to Holyhead and caught my favorite midnight ferry to Dublin!

(Also I’m just adding some of my random Edinburgh pictures here.)



TED Global: Day Four by Ann Treacy
July 31, 2012, 8:44 am
Filed under: Edinburgh | Tags:

I’m not sure if Day 4 was my favorite – but it was definitely closest to what I do in real life – so I liked it a lot! (I guess that’s a good sign for my choice of profession.) Thursday was very technology focused – not so much how to program – but how to use and share. Kind of like introducing the idea of cyborg with Neil Haribsson, Thursday offered a glimpse at how technology is merging online and offline relationships – creating cyfriends.

Rachel Botsman spoke about Task Rabbit and the importance of reputation online. Task Rabbit is a website that matches people who need services done (such a mow the lawn, pick up dry cleaning or paint a room) with people who will do the services for a price. It’s partially a bidding process – but the buyer doesn’t need (or necessarily want) to choose the lowest bidder. The buyer can also see reviews from past buyers for each bid. In this way, it turns the virtual world into a small town. In small town you may be able to overcharge someone from crappy service once – maybe even a few times – but word will get out and you’ll soon be out of work. Same here. Building on that theme, Robin Chase spoke about Buzz Car – a service that connects car owners with folks who want to rent a car.

One of my favorite speakers was Amy Cuddy – she spoke about nonverbal communication and the power of fake it until you make it. I think her video should be required viewing for all teen girls and unhappily shy people. She did an experiment that involved tracking the most attractive job applicants. Half of the group of interviewees was asked to stand in power poses (think Wonder Woman with hands on hips) before the interview. The other half were told nothing. This was a double blind test. Yet the people who power posed overwhelmingly beat the do nothings for the job. In the same way nonverbal cues may change how people view you – they can also change how you view yourself or at least how you perform. I’ve already been putting this one into practice – I’ll be downright menacing before I get home!

Jason McClure was another favorite for me. He spoke about how to combat terrorists – not through combat but through better marketing. The idea really is to appeal to potential terrorists to reduce the flow of new terrorists. First – society needs to show that we’re a better product than what the terrorists offer. It reminded me of the pirate exhibit the girls and I saw with Grandma in St Paul. Many people became pirate because the money and the life were better than becoming a sailor, which was often the only viable option. How often might that be the case today? We need to give people better options. Second – terrorists often garner sympathy by showing themselves as victims. To deafen that cry we need to lift up the voices of the victims of terrorism. Partially that means finding a platform for the victims to tell their story – that also means taking better care of the victims. His talk was very powerful – a dramatic bomb went off during the talk – you have to watch the talk to see what I mean.

Jayne McGonigal was amazing for at least two reasons. First – well she just is. Second – she gave her talk in fits and starts three times due to technical difficulties, which were not her own. I’ll try to recap her really powerful talk. She was injured and spent a year in bed told not to do anything. She got very depressed and entertained thoughts of suicide. Then she realized that as a game developer what she needed to create a game to keep herself focused. (Reminded me of Elyn Saks saying part of what kept the schizophrenia at bay was an occupied mind!)  The game consisted of killing anything that kept her down. It helped. The pain didn’t necessarily go away but the powerless feeling did. She spoke of post-traumatic growth – sort of the opposite of post-traumatic stress – where people walk away from trauma with a stronger love of life. The game helped her do that. She’s made the game available online – and now it helps others. Her talk is really worth watching – and more importantly, I think it’s an idea worth sharing with anyone you think might need it.

So those speakers were just the morning! You can see what I think TED is the best thing ever! The afternoon was really on open source – open source software, hardware, aid, knowledge – access, transparency. Everything I think will help the Internet transform how we do things in communities.

Beth Noveck talked about how making government data available helps public private partnerships. Some partnerships focus on private company using the data to create an app. Some partnerships focus on making those apps available to private citizens to crowdsource solutions. One example – and she didn’t use this but I met this guy and he was a TED wish guy – was a database that tracks quiet places in cities. So if you know of a quiet place you can post it – then if you’re visiting a new city (or maybe even your home town) you can look up a quiet place when you need it.

Heather Brook is a journalist who had a great story about how she pushed for access to government information to make a difference. Specifically she requested expense receipts of members of parliament. To make a long (and interesting) story short – the Freedom of Information laws are making a difference!

Mark Goodman from the FBI spoke about the future of crime and terrorism. Don’t watch his talk before you go to sleep – that’s one thing I’ll say. He really just flipped the scope on so many of the cool things we’d learned about and talked about how a criminal might make use of technology. For example, if  3D printer can create a microscope – it can probably create a gun too. And as people become cyborgs, they become hackable. One silver lining – the ability to crowdsource solutions.

Laura Snyder was sort of a sleeper favorite of mine. She gave the history of science as it shifted from a loose cousin of philosophy to becoming its own field of study based on the inductive, evidence based method. What was interesting to me was the movement to scientifically literate adults through making science more accessible through article written in plain English to the dismal display of science literacy we see today. In the US only 28 percent of adults are scientifically literate. Explains a lot, huh?

Some of the evening speakers were great – but really more visual that I can explain here. Michael Hansmeyer used a 3D printer to create amazing columns based on folding a cube unto itself. The structures are not random, yet as he said, not yet predictable. The intricacies were amazing. Ramesh Raskar demonstrated how through femto-photography we can see around corners. They had a camera that could shoot a trillion phrases a second which allows you to see light in motion!

Then maybe the coolest this I still don’t really understand – Boaz Almog and quantum levitation. I should just say watch it – ‘cause it’s so cool! The idea is that through use of a superconductor you can create a force that has no friction, no loss of electricity, no heat. He levitated a small disc – but more than levitate the disc will “stick” to a surface so if you flip the surface the disc flips with it, constantly spinning a couple inches from the surface. And apparently that small disc could hold a car. So think of a super cool roller coaster. Or more practical – think of a train that could go through a tunnel between NY and Cork!

The After Hours on the fourth night was amazing. Lots of the musicians and dancers were invited to perform – including Preston Reed. I’ll include some videos I took. And in case there are any doubts, the food and drink were always free. Just need to pay for the very late night pints that I shouldn’t have been having anyways! Was happy to close the pub that night with my TED buddies Cath, Preston and Liang.



TED Global: Day Three by Ann Treacy
July 30, 2012, 5:12 pm
Filed under: Edinburgh | Tags:

The third day of TED started with a focus on international. Pankaj Ghemwat started with an interesting statistics – only 2 percent of phone traffic was cross border. I don’t know if that includes Skype. I can’t even remember what the scope of the test group was – but I found that amazing. Although I suspect that except when I’m in Ireland less than 2 percent of my phone traffic is international. The same can’t be said of my email or Facebook traffic.

Robert Neuwirth spoke about System D – essentially off the books economic activity, especially happening in third world (hopefully emerging) economies. I find this fascinating – and love to hear about the ingenuity and entrepreneurship of folks in stressed economic environments and I hate to hear about what the folks on the “right side” of the economic divide are willing to do to maintain the status quo. System D may not be pretty – but I think it lifts a lot of people to a better place – making room for the next generation to make it pretty!

I was surprised how much I enjoyed Alex Salmond (Scotland’s First Minister) on the power of small countries. Without a doubt, it’s the time I spend in Ireland that makes the toptic interesting to me. But like small businesses I think the small countries have an agility that the US has totally lost. And I think agility is more important now that it ever had been in the past. I wish the US would be open to hearing about agile strategies. For folks who don’t know, Alex Salmond would like to see Scotland separate from England. And I found him interesting – but someone asked why Sctoland should separate and he didn’t have a good elevator pitch answer. I think he needs to work on that. (And I’m sure he’s reading this post for my advice!)

Ivan Krastev spoke about governments – he was entertaining – coming as he said from a country of pessimists, Bulgaria. One comments he made the struck me – We can change governments but not policies.

Gabriella Coleman gave a super interesting talk on AnanOps – a group of cyber vigilantes who have been known to take down folks/groups that they feel have earned some agro. I think they’re like Alex in Clockwork Orange or other antagonists who build a subculture hero status by using nefarious tactics sometimes to right a wrong – but sometimes just because they can. One interesting thing about the AnanOps is that membership is open and anonymous – so to even talk about them as a group is difficult.

Leslie Chang gave a great talk on the life of factory workers (women mostly if not exclusively) in China. Her point was that measuring the life of factory worker by US or most European standards wasn’t really fair. The women are working under what I would call horrendous conditions – but the conditions are much better than what they have left in the country and the factory jobs allow them to make major improvements in their lives – and like System D – while the picture isn’t pretty it improves the lives of subsequent generations. I think in the US we’ve lost the appreciation of working for the next generation.

Neil Harbisson was a walking cyborg. He’s color blind – but he has created adaptive technology that allows him to hear colors based on the tone of the frequency those colors generate. Reminded me of many exhibits I’ve seen at the Science Gallery – very cool but I don’t entirely get the direct translation from color to sound. That being said I do appreciate that once you create a standard you can develop a system for translation that can be understood universally so I applaud the effort. Also his geometrical art, based on mathematic-created colors was amazing!

In the afternoon we heard from some more amazing people – a couple of whom had learned to cope with sever metal illness, such as chronic schizophrenia. Elyn Saks spoke about her experience being committed against her will as a young woman and how she went on to get a Phd and live a productive life thanks to medication, a strong support system and an occupied mind. (And I’d add a strong will!) Ruby Wax gave an entertaining look at what it’s like for a brain with issues. Vkiram Patel introduced SUDAR – a tool that will help deploy mental health treatment to patients all over the world through channels that don’t require high level medical staff, which often aren’t available. I love his idea of democratizing medical knowledge. We learned of a few examples. The gist is sort of DIY kits that help semi-trained or maybe even just compassionate people to support to offer medical service to others. Sometimes (as in the case of SUDAR) it’s a matter of rough and ready training for the care giver; sometimes it’s a matter of easy-to-administer medical exams or medication.

We also heard from Rob Legato who did the special effects for Apollo movies (and others but not being a movie person I can’t remember them). He had a fun story of how he recreated the first rocket launch – first they used footage to create an replica and everyone said it was wrong. So they surveyed loads of people – who remembered things incorrectly – but they observed trends in the misremembering. Then they built the second launch as people remembered it and everyone thought it was great.

In the evening we learned about renewable energy projects – which again I loved! We heard from Jonathan Trent (from NASA, who I talked to at a party!!) who talked about Project Omega, a very cool way to tap into biofuels under the sea – in a way that’s respectful to the sea and the surrounding community.

Sarah Jayne Blackmore spoke about how the prefrontal cortex develops through adolescence. Here’s some shocking news – teens have difficulty understanding other’s perspective! Well, it was good to hear that it’s kind of out of their control anyways – not just willful crabbiness, which is what I had previously assumed.

The night ended with my friend Preston Reed playing with Usman Riaz. The music was amazing! But the best part was the visual. Usman is a virtual apprentice to Preston’s style of percussion guitar. Usman learned to play that way via YouTube videos of Preston. Preston is huge with long greyish hair – he plays standing up. Usman is slight with dark hair and plays sitting down. If I were a painter and I wanted to capture a modern day apprentice relationship – I couldn’t do much better than painting them on stage. Plus they both have such a generous and modest stage presence. (Think *big* smiles after each song – while super serious faces while they play.) I’m going to cheat and use video from a TED After Hours event here – since no filing during TED!



TED Global: Day Two by Ann Treacy
July 13, 2012, 3:13 pm
Filed under: Edinburgh | Tags:

I’m realizing that deciding to type up all of mu notes from TED is sort of handicapping me from adding any notes – so I’m going with highlights.

The day started with a couple more TED Fellow and TED University talks. Jill Blakeway spoke about the placebo effect in acupuncture – and how she learned to embraced the idea that acupuncture might be a placebo. I like that idea – mostly so long as something does no harm I’m all over any effect, placebo or otherwise! Then Margaret Stewart gave a wonderful demonstration on sabering champagne bottles. I wont’ say too much as I plan to perfect it once I get home (and can buy champagne with dollars) and impress everyone.

Then the Big TED event began. I have to start by saying that all of the speakers were wonderful. I think choosing favorites is really a matter of what topics interest you. And the following interested me…

Raghu Dixit – an amazing musician from India. He got everybody up and clapping – if not actually dancing.

James Stavridis, – NATO Supreme Commander – yup no typo there, that’s who he is. He spoke about open source security. The idea being that building bridges will be more effective than building walls but that it requires public-private partnership. Nice to hear someone from NATO promoting that idea. I loved the grouping of speakers – but in retrospect, his talk really fit in well with Jason McCue’s talk on terrorism.

Massimo Banzi – creator of Arduino. If I were a coder I’d be all over this and the idea of taking open source to such a degree as to make everything available to be improved upon. The whole idea of open source is such a game changer in terms of how economy works.

Lee Cronin – print your own medicine. Wow! This was a recurring theme both at TED, Dublin Science Gallery and other things I’ve been reading. The idea that you can create custom chemicals through these printers is amazing. Take it a step further and since you’re creating small batches, it opens the door to creating personalized medicine. So maybe I get a special aspirin that we know won’t react poorly to my eye medicine. Or on a broader scope – imagine the possibilities to thwart the danger of viral diseases.

Daphne Koller – open access to education – allowing anyone to take online (real time) classes from top universities https://www.coursera.org/ – this might shift the goal of education from getting the degree to learning the lessons – never mind the opportunity to level the playing field – for anyone with the broadband to take advantage of it.

Eddie Obeng – one of my favorite speakers! He spoke about reacting to a world that no longer exists. The problem is that we have our regular ways of doing things – from education to running a business. Unfortunately the rules in which those ways were created have changed entirely (see Arduino above) and we’re not changing with them. We need to break away from the regular way to create new ways that take in account the changes that are happening. He speaks about the smart failure!

Karen Thompson Walker – the idea was that fear is intellectual story – we need to learn to read our fears – but the story she told was gripping. Look for her talk when it comes out!

The night ended with a great party at the Scotland Museum, which was very fun. I met some super friendly guys (Rob and Richard) so I had folks to hang with. And we headed to the After Hours event which starred the TED performers Raghu Dixit in a place called The Caves, because it appeared to have been built into caves below the castle.




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