TED is a wonderful institution. Where else would you find intensive and insightful explanations on topics like these: “Do schools kill creativity”, “Aid for Africa? No thanks”, “Doctors make mistakes. Can we talk about that”, “Why some of us don’t have one true calling”, or “Can we create new senses for humans”?
And these talks take less time than your normal breakfast. Or reading this article.
Simply put: I’m a huge fan of TED talks. To a great extent, this is because of how short the talks are: I can pick up something that I happen to be curious about on a given day, and quickly I can suck in some information that makes me more aware, critical, thoughtful, understanding and fearless – on a general level. Not everyone is good at talking, let’s say in your school or workplace, so hearing an exhaustive talk by a skillful storyteller is a treat. (And even if it wasn’t the best talk for you, it didn’t really waste your time.)
TED defines itself as a nonprofit, devoted to “spreading ideas”, usually in the form of short talks. TED began in 1984 as a conference where Technology, Entertainment and Design converged, and today covers almost all topics — from science to business to global issues — in more than 100 languages. There are also independently run TEDx events around the world, like in Stockholm earlier this month.
If you don’t feel like reading more, this is the summary of the event: Seven amazing talks! Two previously recorded amazing talks! Popcorn! Nordic juice! Two musicians! Wraps! Chances to try VR games!!!
However. It was more than that. This was TEDxStockholm’s 25th event, and also their largest so far. The theme, which was “Crossroads – the beginning of every direction”, isn’t comprehensive in itself. The event did span various topics: there were people talking about the strength of storytelling (David JP Phillips, Alexander Ekman), which can be verbal, physical or cultural, for instance. Some people focused on how to take care of yourself and understand what you can have and achieve, with your all potential (Emma Frans, Eva-Karin Gidlund). There were also some speakers that were using art and documentary to create understanding and welfare (Truls Nord, Julia Romanowska, Milène Larsson). This is how I, in a very simple way, would categorize the talks.
To give you a better understanding of an event full of deep thoughts, here are the five moments that had a special impact:
- International choreographer and director Alexander Ekman was talking a lot about how he creates his dance pieces and performances, and why his work matters. He was talking how we usually think that entertainment is something that comes with fancy, shiny props and spectacular, massive shows. Suddenly a person in the audience stands up, confetti is flying, another person stands up, something loud is playing, spotlight is on him, and a third person stands up, what is this, a circus? What did just happen? And this is when Alexanders says: “So, were you thinking of anything else during the past 10 seconds?” No, we weren’t! Everyone is really amused by this dynamic sudden mini-performance, which was a great reminder for myself: a surprising element just works. This 10-second-performance made me remember his talk much better.
- The event was ended with a talk/concert hybrid by the Colombian-Lithuanian musician Jurgis Didziulis. It is said that “he studied Political Science and Business confesses he’s more into social engineering. He has experience in campaigning, corporate education, media-consulting, and many other things ‘social’.” This is a good description of what he did: talking, playing and activating the audience at the same time, and, above all, he was humorous doing it. It was a crazy funny weird combination of different ways to entertain, educate and have fun. In the end people were all over the place, standing, dancing, on the stage, just sharing this funny feelgood moment.
- David JP Phillips, an international speaker, author and coach in Modern Presentation Skills, was the first speaker. He told about different hormones and asked if he can inject us with some hormones. With three different stories, he made us… feel. For me the strongest story was the one about him getting a job offer as an educator, going to this office for a meeting and then realising that he was supposed to give the education immediately, unprepared. I got surprisingly stressed for him, just by hearing this story!
- Milène Larssons’ entire talk. This Swedish journalist and documentary filmmaker talked about “borders – why they exist, how they affect identity, and what happens when you don’t fit in”. A very insightful, clear, bright talk on migration and cultural conflict – topics that we have been hearing about a lot recently. So, with her short talk, she managed to freshen issues that we are getting (too) used to by now. Go and hear her talk if you can.
- Truls Nord, an artist working with film, photographs and installations, told about making photography accessible for blind people. Truls initiated and led the project Tactile Photography, which started in 2011. This method in itself is so interesting – and shows how easy it is to take things for granted. Even photography can evolve as a media and become accessible for people who can’t SEE! This is simply wonderful.
You can read more about the event here!
EVS Volunteer and Communications Coordinator