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TED Global: First night by Ann Treacy
July 13, 2012, 3:10 pm
Filed under: Edinburgh

I can’t believe I didn’t write about our fancy first night party for TED. It was held at the top of the Edinburgh Castle. The weather was perfect! The drinks were free. Folks walked around with wonderful appetizers. Everyone was friendly.

There are people who serve as hosts. I think they’ve probably just attended a billion previous TEDs – but they are super friendly and when you’re new to the event and you’ve come alone, it really is nice to have the super friendly people start conversation. And of course this was just a couple of hours after my presentation so many kind people came up to say hello to me based on what little they had learned about me. So that was super nice too.

I took some pictures from the castle – but admittedly they don’t look nearly as good as the real thing. But while I was taking pictures I met someone from Catalonia. (Patrick and I taught English in Catalonia before we were married.) You don’t meet a lot of people from that area. He was very impressed that I had lived in Mollerusa- well if not impressed at least surprised. I have to say that at an event like this it is nice to have done a little traveling.

Just as the castle party was ending I found myself talking to some great people – and we trekked to a nearby pub. For better or for worse this began a happy habit throughout the conference. I’m including various pictures from various nights of me, Cath, Preston and Liang. And I must thank them for helping me ring in my birthday after midnight on that firs night of TED!



TEDGlobal Day 1 Notes: TED Fellows & TED University by Ann Treacy
July 5, 2012, 8:02 am
Filed under: Edinburgh | Tags:

Everyone said there’d be a letdown or deep depression post TED – so far I still just feel so super lucky to have gone and participated. I do wish that I had a few days to just reflect and let it all sink in – that so far that’s not happening either. But today is the 4th of July. We went to the beach to celebrate Aine’s birthday and I got a good chunk of work done so I’m rewarding myself with time to write up notes from at least the first session I attended last week.

Day One was really  a pre-conference day. There were talks from TED Fellows and the TED University. TED Fellows are a select group of folks doing cool things who get to attend TED events and get special TED support. TED University folks are super lucky members of the audience who are selected to talk. (I wrote about my super lucky TED University Talk earlier.)

Here are my very rough notes – again they’re mostly for me but anyone is welcome to read them.

Usman Riaz – an amazing musician. I’ll write more about him as he was on the big stage too with someone who became a friend at TED.

Catarina Mota – spoke about open source hardware. Companies should give away design blue print with the idea that others might improve it and/or customize it based on personal needs. As she pointed out today hardware is pretty inflexible so we bend to meet it rather than creating hardware that bends to meet our needs. It’s a good point – we’re too smart to use one size fits all hardware solutions.

Aman Mojadidi – spoke about the geography of self. He is an artist who takes conflict chic photos in Afghanistan. Think Kid Rock fashion with Taliban sensibilities.

Max Little – he had a super cool invention that was able to predict Parkinson’s Disease based on voice modulation. So folks at home could simply make a phone call to take the test – the voice patterns enough were a strong indicator, enough for his test to predict evidence of Parkinson’s. Very smart! And a fun fact, that morning his story ran in the BBC, he was overwhelmed with offers and attention. So he was swept into the BBC immediately following his talk. Then his wife (back home) had a baby that night. That’s a big day!

Kristen Marhaver – talked about coral reef – reminded me of the women who talks about coral reef and hyperbolic geometry – except this is more on coral reef. It was interesting to hear about how life choices made so early in the life of coral reef are determinants for longevity. She is looking into how/why coral reef decide to settle where they do.

Eric Berlow – works with the Vibrant Data Project tracking food chain and data democracy challenges. His folks is on ecology.

Bel Pesce – spoke about how she went from Brazil to getting into MIT. Clearly her energy was a big player.

Juliette LaMontagne – has developed a cool experiential learning program called Breaker where students (age 18-24) become social entrepreneurs. As a group they take on a challenge together to make the world a little better and to learn how to make things happen.

Salvatore Iaconesi – is an artist who spoke about augmented reality and the idea of using social media as a democratic tool. Specifically folks in dangerous areas (think demonstrations) could use their mobile phones to track how to get out of dangerous spots. I think of how valuable that would have been to us during the Republic National Convention demonstrations in Minneapolis last election.

Andrew Nemhr – amazing tap dancer. I happened to get him and another fellow (Meklit Hadero) at one of the afterhours events.

Alexander Mclean – is working in prisons in Africa to make life better for prisons – especially important because so many people are wrongfully imprisoned and/or unjustly punished.

Ed Ou – a photojournalist who remarked that youth are always an entry point into any culture. He took pictures of planning and deploying of demonstrations. He had one amazing shot of the planning of an event. He asked for permission to publish – because obviously the people in the picture would be in danger. They were all young and activists. Turns out that one young woman got into trouble from her parents – since she was smoking in the picture!

Candy Chang – she had some of the most amazing public art / public thought projects. They one I liked was simply the chalk boards that started with “Before I die…”; many people came in to fill in the blanks on that large installation. The best was the picture of the guy dressed swash buckling clothes writing  – “I want to be tried as a pirate”.

Elaine NG – spoke about shape memory and giving life to materials. She worked with materials so that they seemed to breathe and/or react to touch. She reminded me of some of the exhibits we’ve seen at the Science Gallery.

Hakeem Oluseyi – is working ot get more decent telescopes in Africa. Apparently there are only 3 good telescopes in Africa – which seems insane given the view they must have of the night sky.

Joel Jackson – has developed an affordable car for poor areas. He has stripped out the unnecessary features leaving a car that costs $6000. The idea is to sell them to entrepreneurs who can use them to start or build their businesses.

Ivana Gadjanski – is looking into poison calcium channels to prevent MS.

Juliana Machado Ferreira – found an interesting way to track bird traffickers and trafficked birds based on the DNA of the birds.

Sheref Mansky – works with Synthetic biology and coming up with new ways to create components.

Ola Orekunrin – she is the founder of Flying Doctors in Nigeria after her sister died waiting to get to a hospital – she spoke about living at the speed of life

Skylar Tibbits – is reinventing the way we build things with self-assembly kits

Christopher Soghoian – talked about how easy it is to hack into the cell phone towers by pretending to be a cell phone tower. One of the problems is that cell phones are programmed to communicate with any tower. There’s a need for better authentication. And one of the reasons this is becoming a bigger issue is that it’s not quite cheap to pretend to be a tower.

Bahia Shehab – is an Lebanese-Egyptian artist who builds are based on Arabic script for no – her project is called 1000 times no. It was kind of amazing to see such a seemingly quiet woman who has posted essentially thoughtful graffiti in dangerous places saying NO.

Robert Gupta & Joshua Roma – amazing musicians

Then I lose a lot of Monday afternoon getting ready for my talk. You can get notes from the TED University talks on the TED blog. Here are my quick notes…

  • Nilofer Merchant spoke about how sharing ideas opens them up to greater returns.
  • David Mismark – spoke about randomness
  • Laurie Coots – spoke about social justice and activism especially with young people.
  • Paolo Cardini – spoke about single purpose devices – like a phone just being a phone
  • Manu Prakash – created a printable microscope – amazing for poor counties
  • Alanna Shaikh – spoke about how she’s preparing to get Alzheimer’s (she will get the test when she’s 40 – super interesting woman)
  • Nina Tandon – spoke on 3 reasons to grow human tissue – such a poised and impressive woman
  • Melissa Marshal – her talk about “talk nerdy to me” great title, great point on getting geeks to communicate
  • Meklit Hadero (see video)
  • Anwar Dafa-Alla – spoke about his translation work, especially for TED – amazingly friendly person
  • David Binder – spoke about theater festivals. Wish I had been able to talk to him for Patrick.



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