Radical Openness in 55 countries, TEDxLive events around the world

This week, TEDGlobal went live far beyond the limits of the Edinburgh International Conference Center. In over 55 countries worldwide, excited TED’xers became TEDsters for a day (or night!) — gathered to experience “Radical Openness” in the heart of their communities: inside theaters, schools, local haunts, and cultural centers.

In Amsterdam, while audience members watched the simulcast in a historic 19th-century theater, TEDxAmsterdamLive found a whole another life on the World Wide Web. For several years they — and other TEDx’ers throughout The Netherlands — have worked with the Dutch collaborative World of Minds to mind-map their TEDx events. This year, World of Minds introduced the hashtag #myTEDidea, which inspired TEDGlobal watchers around the world to contribute TEDGlobal-inspired ideas to their universal mind-map: the TEDGlobal Idea Donation Center.

Organizers also created a TEDxAmsterdamLive Tumblr blog, which was curated by Sjoerd Los, an artist who “confronts different pieces of art by putting them up against each other daily.” Sjoerd aimed to “[create] challenging collisions and [add] new meaning [to] the content of the TEDGlobal Talks.” A screen in the TEDxAmsterdamLive viewing room alternated between this and mindmaps.

Fatiha Hajjat, from TEDxLyonLive, was moved by the connections formed at their event: “All day, we were blown away by the amazing speakers at TEDGlobal,” she said, we were “shifting from states of high excitement to moments of soulful tears.”

“During the pauses, we asked our community members to determine how radically open we could make our city. During one of the pauses, we went on the campus and ‘radically opened’ the conference to professors and students who were sitting for exams. An Iranian PhD student who was in the [University] for a short training programme popped in with his wife, not believing his luck at getting a sneak view of TEDGlobal in the most unexpected place. He was over the moon! Later came another unexpected guest, herself from Iran and a French resident for years. One of the volunteers ticked straight away and connected them.

“At 5.15 pm, something highly symbolic happened. Total strangers a minute ago, the three of them hugged each other, their eyes in tears as if they knew they were meant to meet that day. We could sense that the conversation between them was just beginning and we were so proud of being a tiny part in this process.”

TEDxGuatavitaLive overcame technical difficulties to host an amazing event, a prelude to what will be the first locally-organized TEDx event in rural Colombia later this year. “At the beginning we had a lot of problems with the internet connection [because] Internet at countryside locations in Colombia is not very reliable,” said organizer Felipe Spath, “but at the end it worked! And it was an incredible afternoon, sharing this experience with people who hadn’t seen a TED conference before. Really inspiring!”

In Islamabad, Pakistan, TEDxRawalLakeLive’s attendees were greeted at the door with an assignment. “x =” was written on large sheets of paper, and every attendee was given a sheet and asked to fill in what “x” means to him or her. Participants were then photographed with their project, as a way to document the collective ideas of Islamabad’s TEDx’ers.

TEDxAustinLive chose a very specific venue for their stream of TEDGlobal: the Texas Advanced Computing Center’s Visualization Lab at the University of Texas at Austin.

TEDxAustinLive organizers chose the Vislab because it is a place that “embraces data as a treasure trove of information that can tell stories –- the kind that can change how we work, play, and, well, live as human beings.”

“The Vislab houses Stallion, the world’s highest resolution tiled display, which supports exploration of data visualizations at extremely high levels of detail,” says Shawna Butler, one of the event’s organizers. “Its interdisciplinary approach to interpreting data exhibits the sort of ‘Radical Openness’ described by TEDGlobal speaker Shyam Sankar.”

“Attendees interacted with touch screen displays and experienced research at the forefront of fields such as scientific visualization, visual analytics, human-computer symbiosis, and high-performance computing,”  Butler reported. The simulcast was paired with a live talk given by Dr. Todd Humphreys about his radionavigation lab’s experience using a GPS spoofer to take control of a drone.

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