Rahul Anand visited TEDxPilani on March 13, 2010 and got a first-hand taste of an electrifying TEDx event. He shares his experiences:
TedXPilani was the first time I visited a TED event and it was truly a phenomenal experience.
First up was Dr. K.N.Ganeshaiah who demonstrated the relation between mythology and science and how mythology is helping in some spheres to understand the science behind it. He cited the case of ‘Sanjeevani’ herb, which is described in Ramayana as a miracle drug and scientists have now found a similar drug that could possibly have some characteristics of it .
Harish Sivaramakrishnan gave a fresh perspective on the user interface, and how it is an important and integral part of the entire user experience. He had some really innovative examples for it; user interface is actually the most overlooked part in application development. Humanize, Beautify, Personalize, Co-Create, Simplify were the central points of his presentation.
Kartick Satyanarayan gave an account of the situation of bears in our country and how Wildlife SOS freed them from the clutches of the kalandar community and also gave the people a new lease of livelihood, and utilized their love for the animals and natural hunting skills for a good cause. Wildlife SOS also sends 600 children of the community to schools giving the biggest gift that one possible can – education.
Vishal Talreja, co- founder of Dream-a-Dream, gave a fantastic speech on life, connecting the dots and about the great work Dream-a-Dream is doing in transformation the lives of young kids, who are alienated by our society. He laid emphasis on being sensitive to our surroundings: if you see a hungry child near your home or office, feed him, do your bit. If everyone does his/her bit, then this world would be a better place to live. Otherwise, all the talk about development does not really hold ground.
Cleo Paskal talked about the grave environment dangers we are facing – issues like whole islands getting submerged in sea, which we might face in the near future.
Nitin Gokhale oulined the possible dangers the country is facing from Naxalism to Economic Disparity.
Rahul Roushan, in his hilarious manner, outlined the difference between Breaking News and Faking news and how some channels are competing with News Channels when all they show is nothing more than Tabloid Journalism.
And at the end, Nakul Shenoy did his mind reading act which was quite fascinating.
Rahul Anand is a writer and entrepreneur, always looking for new challenges. He co-founded simplypoet.com – world’s first multi lingual poetry portal. Currently, he is an Innovation Associate with Source For Change, a rural BPO in Rajasthan. Also, he is part of TheBetterIndia. com.
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.
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”.
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.
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.
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).