On Tuesday 18 March TEDxJohannesburg hosted a live streaming of *TED2014 at Jozihub, 44 Stanley. Two sessions, “Retrospect” and “Reshape”, from the 5-day conference, themed “The Next Chapter”, were screened to a room of young and old, creatives, suits and students, thrown into the all-white home of innovation for some after hour enlightenment.
The event started in a quintessentially TED-like fashion, with the showcasing of some local talent, Four Element, a three-member, all-male, accapella group from the Eastern Cape. I swear I’ve seen these guys recording a clip at UJ, and they’re just as good as I remember. And before I could indulge in fantasies of having a voice that could be equally as acceptable in public, it was time to grab a drinks and some pizza, sit on a Google beanbag (because I’m so unconventionally cool), and flick my brain’s switch off default mode.
The Retrospect session had people in film, architecture, science and technology explaining the links between the past and the present, and also some predictions about the future given the past. And then came the star of the show, and maybe even the TED talk of TED2014 – Edward Snowden, whose presence was made possible thanks to a robot. He raised issues about how we should hope the ever dynamic, often volatile, relationship between the public and private, and state and personal is navigated. Is Snowden a traitor or champion? Decide for yourself, click here.
The “Reshape” session gave us different perspectives on things we take for granted, like fonts, public spaces and the power of our brains. It also gave us new ways of comprehending climate change and energy production. One thing’s for sure, re-imagining or reshaping a way of thinking is no easy feat, but it would be naive of us to neglect the fact that it can be done – and once it’s done everyone will agree that it’s pretty-nerdy-cool-cool enough to earn you a place on the TED stage.
After warping space and time, meeting fellow students of the universe and the usually quirky, artistic characters I strolled through 44 Stanley a little bit dazed and confused and a lot enlightened.
The next TEDxJohannesburg event is in August and I’m pretty sure I heard there’ll be a TEDxSoweto in April. I’m clearly still a bit dazed. For more sensible and reliable information follow TEDxJohannesburg on Twitter.
*TED, which is celebrating its 30-year anniversary, was started as conference where disciplines of Technology, Entertainment and Design could converge and share ideas. TED has since become a platform for “ideas worth spreading” for almost every discipline, from architecture to film to climatology. The TEDx Program was created and designed to help the sharing of ideas at a local level. The TEDx Program in South Africa included TEDxJohannesburg, TEDxSoweto, TEDxPretoria and TEDxCapeTown to name a few.