Today TEDx Berkeley 2012 kicked off at University of California at Berkeley’s Zellerbach hall. Several of our SF-based aNewDomain staffers are there — checking it out for you in stories, photos and videos.
Here’s the schedule. The live blog is here at the site.
Our TEDx SF-based AND editorial team includes: Mac McCarthy, Julie Blaustein, Josh Windisch, Rebecca Austin, John C. Dvorak and Vanessa Martinez.
Presenters – Photo Credit: Julie Blaustein
- Carl Bass, CEO of AutoDesk
Carl Bass, CEO of AutoDesk: Five Trends: 1. From owning products (books, CDs, equipment (to accessing experiences (eBooks, Spotify, Techshop); 2. Business as Un-Usual (e.g. Kickstarter); 3. Digital Fabrication, to make high-quality products in small quantities at low prices, from toys to buildings to kidney cells (synthetic biology); 4. The Rise of information (e.g. Instructables); 5. Infinite Computing: plentiful and free leads to ubiquity.
Connie Duckworth is the founder and CEO of ARZU, an organization to help women villagers in Afghanistan out of extreme poverty, and had strong words for big international development agencies, which believe if you throw enough money at it, it will work, and expect quick solutions. But big money brings big problems, encouraging corruption, for example. Her agency is staffed by Afghans, who will still be there when the outsiders leave. They come up with small sustainable projects that put as many women to work as possible, performing socially acceptable tasks such as weaving rugs, which can be done at home, or making “super-adobe” mud bricks which are water resistant and don’t crumble in earthquakes.
Mehta founded ServiceSpace, originally an experiment to test the gift economy, which he calls “Gift-ivism,” the practice of radically generous acts. It now ranges from Karma Kitchen, where you pay whatever you wish, but not for your own meal — you pay for the meal of the next guest; to paying the toll for the guy behind you; to kids who offer free car washes, telling surprised customers, ‘We’re practicing generosity.”
Gopi was able to accomplish his dream of getting the Dalai Lama on Google Plus, arranging a Google Plus Hangout so the Dalai Lama in India could wish happy 80th birthday to Bishop Desmond Tutu in South Africa.
Choreographer Jodi Lomask presented an excerpt from her dance troupe’s upcoming major work, Okeanus, which is intended to draw attention to the plight of the ocean ecology.
Author David Ewing Duncan tries to make sense out of ‘Biobabel,’ the enormous amount of biodata available about our bodies and environment. For his book, he performed “a personal study of massive data” but getting every test and bioanalysis available — having his genome sequences to predict genetically based susceptibilities to everything from cancer to diabetes to Alzheimer’s to his reaction to the caffeine in coffee. He even took a behavioral test under an MRI that purported to evaluate his level of greed (normal) and empathy (low). He spoke of the overwhelming amounts of biodata still to come, and the importance of figuring out what it means, for our health.
Holt told stories of the rise of his career as a dancer, in Broadway’s The Lion King (he did the opening call) to Jesus Christ Superstar, to entertainer, as told in his new book, “Intuitive Rebel: Listening to the Voice That Matters.” He also sang to us.
Parikh, a specialist in mobile computing and information systems, told of returning to India to set up a telephone system that let farmers call in to leave questions for experts to answer.
Tiffany Shlain, founder of the Webby awards, talked about how she failed making her first feature film just out of college, but learned from her failure so much that her most recent feature documentary “Connected,” shown at the Sundance Film Festival, then picked up and shown at theaters nationwide. She then made a moving and inspiring cloud-sourced documentary, “The Declaration of Interdependence,” which she is producing with customized end-credit promotions free for non-profit organizations for fundraising.
Strong was clever and amusing. That notepad he’s holding above? A bowling ball is about to drop out of it.
- Dr. Maria Fadiman, Human/Environmental Conservationist
Maria Fadiman, an ethnobiologist who studies the relationship between plants and
people, acted out her funny and vivid adventures in the Amazon rain forest,
studying the impact of oil drilling on the flora and also on the native people
who depend on those plants.
Physician Dr. Neha Sangwan gave an emotional talk about things she learned from
her patients when she would ask them why they think they suffered various
ailments, and often got answers that spoke of deeper issues in their lives. She
also told of her visit to Saudi Arabia to speak with the women and what she
learned from the encounter.
Ken Goldberg, a professor of robotics and automation at UC Berkeley, told how
his father’s death of cancer at the age of 45 motivated him to work on robotics
in medicine and surgery. His team designed to insert needles used to direct
radiation at cancerous tumors in ways that avoid hitting intervening organs. His
current project is teaching the DaVinci surgical robot to perform mundane
surgical tasks autonomously. Currently they’ve taught to robot to performs
sutures perfectly and twice as fast as the surgeon is able, thus relieving tired
surgeons in long surgeries. Goldberg said, “Robots are the most human of our
Photo Credit: Vanessa Martinez
The show concluded with a performance from the amazing dancing “Hip-Hop Violinist” Lindsey Stirling.
Andrew Ould, an executive communications manager at Cisco Systems, came to see TEDx Berkeley from his bucolic college town of Corvallis, Oregon. Here was his reaction to the show:
“The storyteller’s art is alive, well and even flourishing, based on what I saw at TED x Berkeley Saturday.
“From the long list of talent, who stood out? For me top honors go to Maria Fadiman, an ethno-botanist with a strong interest in rain forest preservation. She is so strong a performer that I had to keep reminding myself that I was actually watching a P.h. D. delivering a compelling story about rain forest preservation. At the same time it’s clear she has discovered her inner performer. Ask a friend who was there how she made comedy out of trying to retrieve her wireless mic transmitter after it had slid down into her pants. And all in front of a full house at Zellerbach Auditorium. Academics beware: This woman has just raised the bar big time on how to reach an audience.”
Julie Blaustein, aND’s photojournalist, had this to say:
“I expected the TEDx event to be a really long day, as the agenda had 15 presenters and started at 8:30 this morning.
“Instead, the day just flew by, as each presenter brought a unique and interesting spin on the theme of the day — “Inspiration.”
“I particularly enjoyed Charles Holt, who is known as a Broadway Performer. Through his riveting storytelling, I learned what inspired him and made him who he is today. From the time he was a child, he had a love of singing encouraged by his grandmother. Then he found himself a big football player and that was his world. Then he found himself a bigwig at IBM and that was his world. But when he was “released” from IBM, he finally came to realize what really made him happy and, most importantly, he realized that performing and making others happy made him happiest of all.
“One has to follow one’s passion; this was brought up again and again by presenters at TEDx today. I too can relate as I sit here at midnight posting for aNewDomain.net. I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else, because aND is my passion.”
And our on-site reporter, Josh Windisch, had this reaction to TEDx as a TED virgin:
“TEDx Berkeley was my first TED event.
“I went in thinking this was going to be a series of lectures like you’d find in a large college classroom. I was delighted to discover that it was much more than that.
It was quite the production, with elements of theatre, performance, and incredible storytelling. It was the TEDx team’s ability to find amazing speakers combined with a single unifying theme — in this case it was “Inspiration and Innovation” — that separated it from just a series of speeches.
“Each presenter related their concepts on a very emotional level. They did this by revealing intimate personal details that led them to their life’s work. Ken Goldberg, researcher of robotics and automation, talked about his father’s cancer and how it helped in developing robots that would be used to help other cancer patients. He also told of how he’s passing this passion of robotics down to his eight year old daughter. Neha Sangwan, physician and communications expert, even broke out in tears discussing her patients telling what messages their ailments were sending them. Some speakers were funny and entertaining to hear, like Maria Fadiman, as she told stories of her ventures in the forest studying ethnobiology. Even if you thought a particular speech was a little boring, it didn’t go on for long and usually you’d still get something out of it.
“TEDx Berkeley was well executed and I believe it achieved what it set out to do: Inspire you to look deep within yourself and use your passion in life to innovate the future.”