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Tony Delamothe: Dreaming at TED

22 Feb, 16 | by BMJ

tony_dEach year’s TED conference has a theme, and this year’s, in Vancouver, was Dream. The acronym TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, and Design, but the annual program of talks long ago slipped these moorings.

Before the main conference began there were two sessions devoted to presentations by TED Fellows, a hand picked cadre of rising stars. Usually, they’re presenting some sort of gizmo, and while there was no shortage of these this year, the shadow of sexual violence and racism fell across the proceedings. Jessica Ladd presented Callisto, which allows college sexual assault victims to produce a time stamped record of the incident and electronically report it—or report it if someone else accuses the same assailant. Amanda Nguyen has pioneered a Sexual Assault Survivor Bill of Rights in the US, with a central plank the statutory preservation of evidence obtained at examination. more…

Luisa Dillner: Identity and humanity at TEDMED, day 3

19 Apr, 13 | by BMJ

luisa_dillnerIt’s at the end of a long TEDMED day that Andrew Solomon comes onto the stage. He looks a bit shiny, with a smart blue suit (did no one tell him the dress code is resort casual?) and a high forehead. He turns out to be single handedly worth the price of admission to this conference (as I am later to shout without realising he is standing right behind me). This is because he tells a story ostensibly about him,  that is as much about us. more…

Luisa Dillner: TEDMED, day 2

18 Apr, 13 | by BMJ

luisa_dillnerThe best thing about TEDMED is its delegates. Firstly they genuinely want to talk to you. Secondly they are all really interesting. Everyone has either worked for NASA or is at the very least a CEO of an entrepreneurial healthcare company. The man I sit next to at one session is a neurologist who has written about the brains of bees, and how bacteria communicate with each other.   more…

Luisa Dillner on TEDMED

17 Apr, 13 | by BMJ

luisa_dillnerI want the world to be a better, healthier place. Really I do. And now, at my first TEDMED conference in Washington DC, I have high hopes of hearing from people already working on that. TEDMED runs a fairly linear conference structure—big auditorium, big thinkers on the stage, for short, pack a punch presentations. At the back of the programme, Jay Walker, the curator of the programme is quoted as saying, “TEDMED is all about patterns in the clouds. It’s all about connections. It’s all about seeing things that everybody has seen before but thinking about them in ways that nobody has thought of them before.” There are 2,700 places around the world taking part virtually. more…

Tony Delamothe: TED 2013

12 Mar, 13 | by BMJ

The 29th annual TED Conference in Long Beach, California, started as I remember several previous TEDs began: with two men with newly published books to sell proposing a future that was going to be either terrible or terrific. (The Economist ran this debate with the same protagonists on 12 January.) Since this was futurology, based on selective quotation of currently available data, there was no knockdown winner.

Still, later in the meeting, some pessimistic notes were struck that made you sit up and listen. Danny Hillis, computer guru, wondered whether too little attention had been paid to defending the internet itself. It’s vulnerable to mistakes and deliberate attacks; there are “a lot of bad guys out there.” We need a Plan B if and when it gets taken down, argued Hillis. Vint Cerf, “father of the internet,” thought that the internet would probably pull through. He’s proposed “clean sheet”—rethinking the internet as if it had never been built, and seeing whether any new ideas could be retrofitted into the existing architecture. more…

Trish Groves: TED 2012 Full spectrum

2 Mar, 12 | by BMJ Group

Chris Anderson, TED’s curator, told us on day 1 that this would be the most ambitious TED conference yet and, for its organisers, the most terrifying because speakers had been invited to find new, powerful ways of extracting the most out of their talks. Each had been urged, said Anderson, to “find the prism that will show the full spectrum.”

Writing this at the start of TED’s last day, I’m not convinced they succeeded. A surprising number of speakers this year have read from prompt cards or even a script, not always fluently, and those amazing TED-style powerpoint presentations have been in shorter supply than usual. There’s also been a lot less innovation than I expected so far but, to be fair, the first session today, is focusing on science. And so will my next blog. more…

Trish Groves: TED 2012 Only connect

2 Mar, 12 | by BMJ Group

“Only connect! That was the whole of her sermon. Only connect the prose and the passion, and both will be exalted, and human love will be seen at its height. Live in fragments no longer.” (EM Forster Howards End)

Here at TEDActive—the younger, funkier sister of California’s TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) annual conference—Forster’s 1921 theme “only connect” seems ever more relevant. more…

Tony Delamothe: TED Day 3: Of revolutions, algorithms, and wonder

8 Mar, 11 | by BMJ Group

By the end of the third day it was clear that one of the major conference themes had become  “Revolution 2.0,”  political upheaval facilitated by Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. In the words of one speaker, “the internet didn’t cause the revolutions,but it allowed them to happen.”

Day one had had Al-Jazeera’s director general on stage in person. Subsequent days had prerecorded presentations from Egypt and China. more…

Tony Delamothe: TED Day Two: The many paths to changing the world

7 Mar, 11 | by BMJ Group

Day 2 began with a choice: a clinic on sand sculpting or breakfast with Al Gore, both scheduled to begin at 7am.

I felt I owed it to the VP. I had asked him about the health consequences of global warming after his 2006 TED talk, which formed the basis for “An Inconvenient Truth.”  What I brought back from that conversation helped prepare the ground for the Climate and Heath Council that was later set up. more…

Tony Delamothe: TED Day One: The Return of the Human

3 Mar, 11 | by BMJ Group

The night before the TED conference began, “The King’s Speech” beat “The Social Network,” four Oscars to three. A friend with a stake in the outcome had argued that a story revolving around  21st century technology (Facebook) should have had an advantage over a story revolving around a 20th century one (radio). more…

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