TEDx Sydney: My 30 seconds on stage in the Opera House Concert Hall

TEDxSydney 2013 by TEDxSydney, on FlickrMy own moment of TEDx fame came late in the day, I was selected as one of 18 audience participants to share my own big idea – could we design buildings based on data analysis? We already use data analysis and modeling to look at technical areas of building design such as acoustics and fire. We are at the point where using data analysis of human behaviour to optimise functional and spatial designs is becoming possible.  Is there the possibility that in the future we could use data analysis to design beauty into our buildings, to use data to design buildings like the Sydney Opera House?

I’m was certainly a bit nervous about speaking in front of 2200 people, but I think it went OK – I’ve been looking for a video of this audience ideas segment on the net, but the TEDx videos are not online yet. Maybe next week.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve mentioned that i was going to be attending TEDx. So some of you might be wondering – what the hell is this TEDx thing anyway? It’s about “ideas worth spreading” with the TED representing Technology, Entertainment, Design. It’s website describes the idea as

to bring together the world’s most fascinating thinkers and doers, who are challenged to give the talk of their lives (in 18 minutes or less).

Started as a one off event in 1984, it turned into a conference in 1990. (There are now 2 annual conferences). And these days all the TED talks are available free on the web for everyone to share. TEDx is a bit like Little Ted. It’s a one day event organized independently, this year was the 5th Sydney TEDx.

I wrote this post directly from TEDx Sydney, at the Opera House on Saturday (although this post won’t go live till Tuesday).  It will be a 2 part post continuing next week.

For today’s Sydney event there is an amazing lineup of Australian speakers as well as intervals with musicians, performers and videos. There are speakers from a wide range of fields including architecture, design, music, arts, politics, business, medicine, science, history and space archeology(?!)

Right now its just after 8am and the Opera House foyer is full of people with ipads – I think that must have been a question in the application form! (you had to apply to buy a ticket). Anyway its going to be a long but amazing day! Speakers of particular interest to me before we start are Marc Newson and Andrew Parker.

At first I thought I wouldn’t attempt to give you something from every speaker – but I quickly changed my mind. I’ve summarized the main idea behind each speaker, so the ones you find interesting yourself you can pick and go watch online (when they are uploaded they will be here)

Wow. Amazing and uplifting talk from Ron McCallum who is blind, about the technology and the people that have allowed him to learn to read, study law and enjoy reading over his lifetime. So much passion for reading and for sharing this opportunity with other blind people in the developing world who might not have the same opportunities. TEDx was off to a roaring start with a standing ovation – I admit I cried.

Alice Gorman is a traditionally trained archeologist who one day got the idea to explore space junk from an archaeological perspective. Does space junk have cultural and historical value? Like objects and artifacts in earth satellites and space probes tell stories about technology and the poeple and culture behind them.

Jennifer Robinson, a human rights lawyer famous for representing Julian Assange, told the story of Benny Wenda and the West Papuan struggle for independence from Indonesia. Jennifer told us about how meeting Benny changed her life, and hoped it would do the same for us, Benny joined Jennifer on stage to thank her for helping to share the story of West Papua with the world.

“In God we trust…all others must bring data”. Simon Jackman spoke of the impact on the data revolution on political science, both the possibilities of using data to more accurately predict election results but also how accurate data could influence politicians.

Danny Kennedy spoke about the politics and power behind our dependence upon fossil fuels for power. Over a lifetime of activism, he has become convinced that solar is the solution – a solution that offers opportunities for abundance for all, not just the richest nations. The idea that there are profits to be made from solar is not a bad one – it will help encourage change.

Lisa Murray spoke about “the digital black hole”, the loss of born digital record as opposed to paper. Record from the past 10 years can be hater to access than those from 100 years ago. (Do you have a functioning floppy disk drive?). In NSW the state government has not even committed to funding our digital archive beyond June 2013 (that’s not a typo!). It makes me wonder where my thesis is now…[I did go looking for my thesis this morning. I found a link to it on a discussion board, but the link itself was broken, I guess its disappeared into that data hole. Good thing I printed it out!]

Tune in next week for more from TEDx!

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