Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Reporting from TEDx: Muthoni the Drummer queen

Performance by Muthoni, the drummer queen
Starving artists, rich recording labels…that’s how the cliché goes. Microfinance, usually reserved for talk on farmer loans and such is now making waves into the world of the music industry. Fans are putting their money where their mouth is, enabling start-up capital to aspiring musicians from developing countries around the world. The clincher here is that musicians do not give up ownership or control of their music rights.

microfinance + music + digital media= Muthoni the drummer queen!

for more, check out TEDx Amsterdam site: Moving to the microfinance beat!

Reporting from TEDx: replaying Darwins journey + the circus as conference

Sarah Darwin talks about Darwin's journey replayed today
Like the usual family pressure is not enough, having Charles Darwin as your great great grandfather must hardly be an easy feat. That said, rather than hide from it, Sarah Darwin embraces it openly and audaciously retraces the “emotional” journe, as she calls it, of the HMS Beagle. A biologist herself, Sarah describes how she and her family set sail round the world on the Dutch clipper Stad-Amsterdam, starting at the same port where Charles Darwin embarked around 178 years ago...
Check out the TEDx website for more:
Sarah Darwin: Following in your footsteps great great granddaddy!


Peter van Lindonk's talk on demanding creativity as ground for unity for stimulating ideas
It’s about time someone added chutzpah into conferences! Aren’t most conferences about remembering the lines but forgetting the theatre of it all? Peter van Lindonk, the co-founder of the annual PINC-Conference, knows this better than most people as he rounds up people in Amsterdam around one theme and one theme only: creativity. PINC stands for People Ideas Nature Creativity and unites people on passion over content. Of course, there’s something to be said about embracing passion over discipline; think about De Bono, the creativity guru who was a physician, author, inventor, and consultant or Bucky Fuller, the American engineer, author, designer, inventor, and futurist who pioneered “spaceship earth.” What they all have in common is this irreverence for compartmentalizing ideas by discipline.
Peter van Lindonk: Pocket full of passion

TEDx Amsterdam's Photogenic moments...

Reporting from TEDx: Dr Anita Goel on personalized medicine

Dr Anita Goel on Personalized medicine
It’s nice to know you’re special. Anita Goel backs this up with science, showing that no two people are alike in their molecular profiles, and as such no two treatments can be alike. Tailored diagnostics – personalized medicine has come to our doorsteps. Covered with ivy, Dr. Goel is a product of Harvard-MIT and Stanford, a physicist, a physician, founder and CEO of Nanobiosym, a company that has a not-so-humble vision to “to revolutionize healthcare globally.” She states that their goal is to give patients worldwide real-time access to their own diagnostic information via low-cost handheld devices and provide a personalized approach to cure through one’s genetic makeup. So what, individualism is the new holism? For more, check out the TEDx site:

Dr Anita Goel: healthcare at your digital fingertips

Reporting from TEDx: Cacao Man: I am from Mars !

Santa Claus look alike, Dr. Howard-Yana Shapiro, talks of chocolate through 26 Mayan languages. Where does cacao come from and why does this matter? Being the global director of plant science and external research at Mars Incorporated, he shares with us the buzz phrase of today= sustainable cacao.

Chocolate matters! But not in the way we imagine, Christmas stockings and all. He says, "everything is on the move, forced by nature," meaning that to satisfy our love for chocolate, we need to start thinking of its effect on people and cultures, nurturing nature and naturalizing this nurturing as a habit of the future. He approaches this through the eyes of a scientist and anthropologist, an important and yet surprisingly rare combination in the field. "We will not certify poverty!" he stresses, talking of how deforestation is deeply connected to chocolate and how corporations need to equate business models with eco-models, where co-dependency is but a must.

According to The Guardian, "approximately four-fifths of the world’s cocoa production takes place in Ghana and the Ivory Coast. The majority of cocoa trees are grown on 2-3,000 family-run farms which are easily susceptible to the influence of climate, disease and price-shifts. This commitment to buying their crops will make a huge difference to the national and local economy"

So its time to give more thought to the bitter-sweet side of chocolate...

Becoming the Press at TEDx: the hoopla around it

Green bordered Press Passes and RESERVED written on red velvet seats...its nice being the Press! Cookies and koffie; polaroids being taken to give some kind of instant energy feeling; long-bearded men, probably all eco-warriors or physicists... spotted! Admittedly, as we blog away with our Apple computers in a row (with every other minute checking Facebook), we're deeply concerned about more pressing issues such as what we should do with our goodie bags post conference when we go for the after-party to Chicago Boom! Such are the troubling times we live in.

Other issues do seep in such as what can we say about someone whose claim to fame is that she is the great great granddaughter of Charles Darwin...ok, but what about it? And of aliens on stage...er? and fake snow falling on a man who has come from Africa in his native costume, saying that this is the first time he has left his hometown and he receives unanimous applaud...because??? One is tempted to see this as condescending, and sensational but we resist for we're "Press" and as reality goes, we're representing TEDx that is representing Amsterdam/ The Netherlands that is representing a host of sponsors from Philips to Sonoma to Microsoft. And such struggles are punctuated by umpteen cups of coffee and organic sandwiches packed with biodegradable forks and knives and recycled napkins. Even the garbage cans seem to communicate some holistic citizen kind of message like Save the Planet or some such, disorienting us and compelling us to debate on whether we should drop our empty bottles of water into it lest we get accused of well, misusing disposal bins.

And if this isn't enough, TED speakers share the stage with a man in a box of ice, aka the IceMan, Wim Hof, the world record holder, adventurer and daredevil who immerses himself regularly in ice. And he does so again, but this time on the TEDx stage for an audience and Press who have been over this day, trained slowly but surely on becoming accustomed to the strange, the weird, the different...and as our host aptly calls him, the icecube on a stick!

Live blogging at TEDx...

Blogging live on Alef Arendsen:
Even trendy renewable energy requires PR. Granted, Al Gore helped to make climate change a topic again. But for the most part it’s been all about what you can do for the world and not for yourself. The New Motion, a company about “electric mobility powered by renewable energy,” turns this around. “If we want to create lasting change, we have to accept the premise that we act on self-interest,” says Alef Arendsen, one of the co-founders. For more, check out the TEDx blog site:
Alef Arendsen: Fixing my problem fixes yours

TEDx starts with a Boom...

Jon Rosenfeld from Boom Chicago, an Amsterdam comedy institution known for its live shows and video productions is hosting TEDx Amsterdam today. He starts for sure with a bang, a boom and happily no bust, cracking up the audience with his witty oneliners such as, "we're all TEDheads here. We're the nerds from high school that made it!" or "we're the Economist readers ...we have that secret nudge, that all knowing wink of getting off on an orgy of ideas" and more, paving way for Prof. dr. Gerardus 't Hooft, the Nobel Prize winner in Physics. Now thats a hard act to follow! In fact, I believe usually scientists do not usually follow comedians when launching into their talks on how nuclear energy transforms the world. So well, kudos to him as he slowly works his way to engaging us with his facetious warning that, "blackholes are not safe to be close to...it can be dangerous!" While starting with the cliche of beam me up Scotty which is oh well, but expected from the man who talks of space, he gets less cliche as he talks about space colonization, setting up hotels of non-gravity and hanging out with "stupid" robots of the 20th century when sending people to Mars...one's social club will be er, confined to robotics of the past. He also talks of the typical commute of moon to earth and back, and we can wonder if audio books will do the trick to help us through this commute!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Russian doll for the TEDx: a blog within a blog

So, fanatic that I am for TED conferences...well, actually, calling this a conference is akin to calling caviar food or the ipad a computer. The cult of TED is more like it, from Ideas Worth Spreading to Fanaticism Worth Holding onto! It all started in the oh so cliche California where people came together to give "the talk of their lives " er...in 18 minutes. (Andy Warhol promised a 5 minute fame so lets just say inflation just kicked in). It started by pontificating about Technology, Entertainment and Design and now has spread to any topic that can be delivered in a way that will make an audience feel cool n cutting edge, and if you can squeeze in a tear or two from them, more the power to you! Ah and did I mention this is an invite only event, nurturing the VIP instinct amongst an eclectic group of people who need reassurances of their role in life like myself? There is nothing like a good dose of intellectual elitism to get people's attention...simple supply and demand that works brilliantly to make something more desirable, period.

So while I'm no doubt part of this emotive herd, I can be slightly objective to say that these talks are self promotional PR for ideas being launched... promising the end of today as we know it and the future as we see it through the speaker's eyes. But who cares given that conferences in general have become so content centric and delivery eccentric where people astonishingly can serve as sleeping tablets, missing the picture that the audience does matter! Perhaps its the Bollywood side of me, but I expect a mix of passion, counter-intuitive thinking, and sparks ...lots of em.

So it should not come as a surprise that with TEDx happening tomorrow in Amsterdam at the Stadsschouwburg, the grand city theatre, I'm going to be one of the live bloggers at the event. Something like chaining myself to the pillars of Stadsschouwburg crossed my mind if I were not to have gotten into this somehow. So on the 30th November 2010, ideas on the theme of "Science and Fiction" will play out, punctuated by tons of peacock performances in networking over meals and drinks, starting from 7:30am to 9pm in the evening. I will be blogging about microfinance in the music industry where Muthoni the drummer queen will talk, electric cars with Plug'N'Party campaigning to retracing of Darwin's journey by his great great grand daughter, Sarah Darwin and more.