I am a massive fan of TED talks. I feel fascinated by each one that I watch, the presenters have an opportunity to share their research and work with an audience.
When I found out that there was an independently-organised TED event in my hometown Brighton, I jumped at the chance to attend.
Below is a rundown of October 31st 2014 and the day itself. Some talks were great, some confusing, some outright strange.
9:40 Session 1: Reaching Out
Karl Mattingly opened the day by discussing his companies work with large data. Karl’s work in researching crowd-sourced problem solving solutions was very interesting to hear about. Karl spoke at length about the challenges of creating an effective (and unbiased!) tool for making group decisions in financial lending markets.
Stefania’s talk was rather over-long, but she did have a lot to say about her maker projects where small teams from Berlin helped create the Afrimakers project, teaching young people and children in Africa how to make use of cheap and accessible technologies to create and make tools with a practical purpose. Stefania also showed an example of how her team used a shipping container to package up and run a hack-week for children and young people in Berlin.
Ju Row Farr:
Farr helped to create Brighton-based artist collective ‘Blast Theory’ in the early 90s. She spoke about some of their most recent arts projects. I must admit I wasn’t entirely sure what her work was trying to say or do.
Deanna performed several slam-poetry pieces - she has a particularly intriguing approach to technology and gender-issues. Her words made me feel that technology can be made use of to encourage fairness and equality for all in the 21st century- particularly poignant during last years #Gamergate and Troll-awareness diatribe.
11:30 Session 2: Drawn Together
Peter’s work as a novelist is widely known in the city, he spoke of how the police and crime authorities were at the forefront of experience when it came to seeing first hand the full breadth of human experience.
Megan tells us of how she grew up first in Portsmouth as a child before moving to Dubai throughout her teenage years. She realised moving back to the UK how seemingly ‘normal and everyday’ behaviours and attitudes in Dubai aren’t necessarily so outside of that part of the world. Her work focuses on the creativity of children, using computer-game Minecraft to allow children and young people to express their ideas of how physical spaces could be improved.
Ruth and sister Amy co-founded hisBe and launched their first retail store earlier this year in Brighton’s London Road. hisBe is focused on fairness for food suppliers and their customers. As a social enterprise, hisBe puts the benefits for humankind ahead of ever-increasing profit margins. Ruth had much to say about the strength of becoming a ‘lighthouse’ - we all have the ability to become a beacon of light for change, we need to turn the lights on so that we can begin to connect with others who want to see change too.
CiCi aka ‘Agent Amphibian’ is a performance artist originally from Germany living in Brighton. She spoke at length about the potential extinction of various species of frogs and the sadness that this would cause. CiCi is working to raise awareness of natural habitats and how we can help support organic life in our 21st century workspaces.
14:15 Session 3: The Makers
Jacques is the researcher and presenter of several BBC documentaries, including ‘The Men Who Made Us Fat’ and ‘The Men Who Made Us Spend’. Peretti’s talk was about the foundation of consumerism and about how the central tenets of the system promote fear to create consumers of objects we don’t need.
Ben previously worked as a graphic designer for over 10 years. One Christmas he was given a cigar kit as a joke gift and when looking on YouTube for guides on how to smoke one, he stumbled upon video tutorials of how to make kitchen knifes. He gave it a go and hasn’t stopped to date, he now has a 14-month waiting list for one of his knifes. Edmonds recognises the value of his working processes and his expertise and finds great joy in his work.
Andoitz co-founded Axalko, a company specialising in creating high quality products from wood with innovative techniques.
EJ has spent many years running workshops teaching students how to carve wooden spoons. She tells of how she initially wanted to ‘declutter’ her life, and starting to work with foraged and felled wood has helped her to do this. She has become an advocate for mindful, healing power of making things with your own hands and patience.
Thomas previously established Private Chef Ltd before selling the company 16 years ago. After a botched operation left him partially paralysed, he began to hunt for truffles for clients looking to profit from the fruits of their land. Lynwood was a very interesting character with what appeared to be an intriguing approach to life.
James owns and runs his own surfboard production workshop. He initially was tired with a focus in surfboards to be produced cheaply and not to last. His own custom designs have been used to teach others how to create their own boards also with his 5-day workshops he runs for interested parties. James is a fantastic example of how disappointment with a product can lead to creativity and innovative solutions.
Jim always wanted to be something of a rockstar growing up. Trained in the USA, Jim returned to the UK to craft excellent custom-made guitars with traditional techniques. Although he never expected to enter this industry, Jim is proof that our paths are never set in stone and our passions can lead us down unexpected roads.
Session 4: Going Beyond
Canadian musician and artist Camille Baker explained how she uses both digital and interactive art to find ways of expressing herself. Her interest in telepathy has become a central focus of her work. She now looks to smart-technology and the internet-of-things to enable deeper, stronger bonds between people.
Alan was extremely knowledgeable about privacy and freedom of speech in the digital age. He discussed how the monitoring of the internet is destroying freedoms for many across the world and for how users might begin to reclaiming their right to privacy through the Darkweb and tools such as web-browser TOR and Unix-distro Tails.
Fox Fisher discussed openly his experience with going through gender re-assignment and how society reacted to the changes he went through in his life, coming to terms with his changed identity.
Sam Roddick (founder of Coco de Mer) rounded out the day by throwing her notes off stage at the very beginning of her talk. She spoke about how her parents developed their company (The Body Shop) based on ethical and caring values for humanity.