What a joy TEDxSydney 2011 was on Saturday. It’s the closest this journo has ever been to the TED experience and I was lucky enough to be invited along for the second year. For anyone unfamiliar with TED, the acronym stands for “Technology, Entertainment and Design” and it’s a US think tank that has been organised by the non-profit Sapling Foundation since 1984, throwing the stage over to thinkers, educators, visionaries or anyone, really, with “ideas worth spreading” - and just 18 minutes in which to deliver same. Launched in 2009, TEDx is a program of local, independently-organised events designed to provide a “TED-like experience”. Sydney retail pioneer Remo Giuffré, who has been attending TED since 1993, is the TEDxSydney licensee. So who knocked our socks off on Saturday? Twenty-four inspiring speakers and performers, from inventor Saul Griffith to astronomer Bryan Gaensler, geneticist Richard Cotton, conductor and educator Richard Gill, Consciousness Philosopher David Chalmers, historian Grace Karskens, avian behaviourist Josh Cook and Daniel Johns, who delivered an emotional performance with filmmaker collaborator Josh Wakely.
We heard, among many other things, that an Australian astronomer invented wifi and that modern telescopes have 268 megapixel cameras; that 1% of the population in the west risks developing an inherited disease; that little-known 18th century letters have revealed that women played a surprisingly big role in early Colonial Sydney; that we have outsourced many brain functions to our smartphones and that macaws like shortbread.
Check the TEDxSydney website later this week for videos of all the talks, if you did not catch the livestreams and the main TED site for more TED info, including a complete archive of TED talks.
As with TEDxSydney 2010, Saturday's attendees were encouraged to put pen to message cube in the tea and lunch breaks. No unsustainable polystyrene cubes this time around however. In their place - a score of recycled cardboard boxes and little paper "bricks".
Here is a selection of TEDxSydney 2011 breakroom wisdom.