After TEDIndia (held in November 2009 in Mysore), TED enthusiasts are showing up in various parts of India – a partial list is here: TEDxAhmedabad, TEDxBaroda, TEDxBengaluru, TEDxChennai, TEDxKonkan, TEDxMumbai, TEDxPilani, TEDxPune, TEDxShekhavati (see more here).
This list, at best, is a good start because the awareness about TED is still “poor”, to put it mildly. Many people who registered for TEDxGurgaon (held on Saturday, 27 February 2010 at Epicentre, Gurgaon), did not turn up (without communicating about their absence) and some attendees did not know about TED.
So, the task is cut out for us! Let us do our “two bits” in helping spread TED, a non-profit organization “devoted to giving millions of knowledge-seekers around the globe direct access to the world’s greatest thinkers and teachers”. TED’s mission states:
Our mission: Spreading ideas.
We believe passionately in the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and ultimately, the world.
So we’re building here a clearinghouse that offers free knowledge and inspiration from the world’s most inspired thinkers, and also a community of curious souls to engage with ideas and each other.
To know how you could help, read here.
TEDx is a program that enables local communities to organize, design and host their own independent TED-like events. These events are expected to mirror TED and the local organizers are advised to be “cross-disciplinary, focused on the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and ultimately, the world”.
TEDx guidelines include playing a minimum of two TEDTalks videos – TEDxGurgaon played many more than that – including Karen Armstrong, Bill Gates, Jamie Oliver and Kiran Sethi. The first of these was an introductory video by Chris Anderson. He talks about his life, career and future of TED (including happiness). Here is an excerpt:
And I discovered that while I’d been busy playing business games, there’d been this incredible revolution in so many areas of interest — cosmology, to psychology, to evolutionary psychology, to anthropology, to — you know, all this stuff had changed. And the way in which you could think about us as a species, and us as a planet had just changed so much, and it was incredibly exciting.
Live speakers are typically allowed 18 minutes. Here is a quick summary on conversations and provocations initiated by Live Speakers.
Kishore Bhargava started off with a talk on Photography (especially, how geeks view/pursue it)- running us through its history from 4 BC to 2009 when Kodak stopped production of its Kodachrome color film. He shared about some latest trends in photography including HDR – High Dynamic Range photography.
Kishore talked about the impact of using multiple frames per second and illustrated the same with two stunning visuals – one that of snake bite and a needle prick on a water balloon. During the QA session, he shared how the bird feeders at his home attract 32 species of birds directly to his home in Gurgaon.
If you are a photography enthusiast, you might want to view some of the TED Videos (87 on last count) on photography.
Prayas Abhinav shocked many in the audience with his advice to “Get Lost”. The fastest way to so (in life), he says, is to disconnect : simply stop calling back people and stop responding to emails. He warned us that routine interactions are loaded with ‘directional vehicles’, which subtly compel you towards ‘pre-determined’ directions. There is a “pressure “of always having to “add value” and “be of use” to something or someone.
One of his creations is “Bhatka Bhatka” – a pair of shoes (using GPS, java code, LED and vibrator) which blink RED in a known location and the vibration intensity increases as you get nearer to a known location. This helps in discovering new and unknown places in the city. He recommends “Drifting” in this age of information glut and these shoes help people “get lost” and discover new and unknown places in the city.
Chatting with him during the break revealed deeper implications. If you can ‘Get Lost’ from external noise & expectations, you have a chance to connect to your truest self and the subsequent ‘discoveries’ and ‘creations” are likely be invaluable (especially for you, and, often for society as well!).
Prayas calls it ‘The Liberation Zone’!
Over coffee, he suggested creating a workshop for Idea (re-)formation & shaping- especially for entrepreneurs with long tail product ideas.
Osama Manzar shared his life journey – starting with the ‘confusion’ with his name ‘Osama’, his education in a Madarsa (reading Qur’an multiple times without understanding a word) and his career in journalism (Computerword, Hindustan Times). Next, came the success story with his software company called 4Cplus, which he quit in 2002 (sold his options) to start “Digital Empowerment Foundation” (DEF).
DEF works towards taking ICT to rural areas across all languages. He has some powerful ideas on creating a “Bottom Up” revolution in India. This includes a movement to publish a few hundred thousand portals online for village panchayats, MLAs and MPs.
Here is a powerpoint presentation on DEF’s vision and programs.
Atul Chitnis initiated a provocative talk on ‘Online Communities-beyond social networking’ – he observed that Social networking sites like Facebook, Orkut and Buzz (Except Twitter) are NOT online communities. Most of the interactions on those sites are superficial and ‘Real’ (read meaningful) conversations are lost. This caused a flutter in the audience and a few attempted to defend the social networking sites as an access tool for the masses.
It seems there are two problems:
- The apparent social ‘malaise’ – inane and vacuous ‘social interactions’ (and commercialization – once you are categorized, marketers start hounding you)
- A technological challenge – preserving meaningful conversations and a mechanism to easily search them. Despite hashtags and twitter archiving tools, this clearly is a big challenge. [Read this Twitter Nostalgia – “a good business opportunity”]
Mark Parkinson, Director of the “Best day school in India”, talked about revamping the education system in India – a long list of proposals and actions items. In a break, we discussed his attempts to implement his vision in other schools and the bureaucratic/societal hurdles he faced. While answering a question, he observed that Life is play and why can’t all studies be fun! It would be a real revolution to have more and schools adopt this philosophy!
Aparna Wilder shared about her latest project under globalrickshaw (they make short-films to spread awareness about social issues). Her latest videos follow teenage girls as part of an almost year long program aimed at empowering them with life skills education and sports.
The last talk was by Abhijit Bhaduri, author of two bestselling novels with MBA acronym – Mediocre But Arrogant and Married But Available. His talk was on ‘What makes you happy’. His proposed three ‘different’ elements – Joy, contentment and happiness. His conclusion: True happiness comes from finding meaning and helping others find their ‘personal significance’. He referred to Viktor Frankl’s book “Man’s Search for Meaning” and the famous words from Nietzsche:
“He who has a why to live can bear with almost any how.”
During QA session, he warned against “temporary” joy and contentment – for example, he classified money as a ‘hygiene’ factor’ (taking cue from Frederick Herzberg’s theory).
Want MORE happiness? See some of the TED Videos (132 on last count) on happiness!
May you have all the happiness (don’t miss Chris Anderson’s video) in the world!
Long Live TED!
May TEDx events multiply exponentially all over the world!