[Updated] Karima Bennoune on TED.com

Karima Bennoune’s talk from TEDxExeter 2014 had already been featured by TED editors among their selections on the TED.com home page, and we’re delighted that the talk itself has now been published on TED.com. Together with the talks by Bandi Mbubi and Scilla Elworthy at TEDxExeter 2012, that makes three!

Update: As of 11 August, our three TED Talks have now reached a combined viewing total of over 2 million! We think this is truly amazing, but not surprising considering their content and the emotion of the speakers. So to see why these powerful are so popular, give all three a watch, then let us know your thoughts on Facebook or Twitter.

Karima has written a message for the people of TEDxExeter:

It is so very meaningful for me to be able to share on TED.com the stories of some of those challenging fundamentalism in Muslim majority contexts, stories which have never been so relevant given events from Iraq to Nigeria since I gave my talk in Exeter at the end of March. I am deeply grateful to the TEDxExeter team, and everyone at TED.com for all their work on this and support.

It is not an easy job to turn a 342 page book (Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here: Untold Stories from the Fight Against Muslim Fundamentalism) into an 18 minute talk. The guidance and encouragement provided to me by the wonderful volunteers at TEDxExeter over two months made a huge contribution.  I remember thinking in January – “why are they asking me to work on this now? The talk is in March.” But, I found that it really did take two months to shape the diverse stories into this format.

I will never forget the electric atmosphere at the Northcott Theatre in Exeter on the day when I was able to share all of this work with more than 460 people – people who really seemed to care. Recently, I was able to show the resulting video – which includes pictures of their own murdered family members – to survivors at the offices of Djazairouna, the Algerian Association of Victims of Islamist Terror from the 1990s.  It seemed to mean a lot to them to know that, thanks to the unique TED platform, people around the world may now share some of their sorrow, and may even do something about it. Maybe for once their voices will be heard. For that, I will be eternally grateful to all at TEDxExeter and especially to Claire Kennedy.

Please help share these stories – tweet, email, post, skywrite… To take action to support people like those in the video, kindly visit wluml.org or any of the other wonderful groups listed under my recommendations on TED.com

In gratitude and friendship, Karima

Karima has also written an article for the TED blog about “The untold stories of the heroes fighting fundamentalism”. You can watch Karima’s talk here. And don’t forget, the other TEDxExeter talks are available on this site and on the TEDx YouTube channel.

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TEDxExeter 2015 – Taking the Long View

We are delighted to be able to announce that TEDxExeter will once again be happening in the Exeter Northcott Theatre on 24 April 2015, with the theme “Taking the Long View”.

It is a truism to say that our present has been shaped by our past, but some events and cultures have had a more lasting impact than others. For example*, 2015 will be the 800th anniversary of the signing of Magna Carta, yet several clauses are still in effect, in particular the right to due legal process. 2015 will also see the 750th anniversary of the meeting of Simon de Montfort’s parliament, the first English parliament without royal authorisation. The 9th century Persia gave us algebra and algorithms. What did the Romans ever do for us? Quite a lot! Then, of course, the ancient Greeks invented democracy, and many doctors still swear the Hippocratic oath.

Many of these innovations were made to solve immediate problems, without any thought to future generations. By contrast, we have an example of taking the long view to the future in the builders of the dining hall at New College Oxford. Kirsty Schneeburger described in her TEDxExeter 2013 talk how they planted oak trees in order that there might be timber available to replace the ceiling hundreds of years later.

At TEDxExeter 2015 we aim to take the long view back into the past, and explore how it has shaped the world we now live in. We want to ask about what responsibilities the past places on us in the way we live now and how we innovate. We will also take the long view to the future. In the present time, we bemoan the short-termism of much political and economic decision-making, and if we are honest our personal decisions are rife with short-termism too. How can taking the long view into the future reveal and help us to understand the challenges that face us now, and shape the way we live and the decisions we make?

We very much look forward to seeing you there.

* Disclaimer: The examples given are no indication of what subjects our speakers might explore!

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Ideas from Exeter reach the world!

Exciting news! Karima Bennoune’s 2014 TEDxExeter talk “Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here” has been selected as one of TEDx’s Weekly Editor’s Picks. This is a huge achievement and offers a real opportunity for her ideas to reach a significant, global audience.

A veteran of twenty years of human rights research and activism, Karima Bennoune draws on extensive fieldwork and interviews to illuminate the inspiring stories of those who represent one of the best hopes for ending fundamentalist oppression worldwide. In this powerful talk Karima gives voice to individual Muslims struggling against fundamentalism and terrorism.

Karima is a professor of international law at the University of California Davis School of Law. She grew up in Algeria and the United States and now lives in northern California.

We now have a fantastic opportunity to help spread Karima’s ideas even more widely. Please share her talk with your networks, on Facebook, and on Twitter using the hashtags #TEDxExeter #TED #KarimaBennoune.

If you know any NGOs, faith groups, activists or journalists or who would be interested in her work please share it with them too and ask them to spread the word.

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TEDx celebrates its 10,000th event…

… and has published a handy infographic to show just what that means. We’re very proud to be part of this world-wide community that is helping to spread those ideas worth spreading. Here are a few facts culled from the infographic:

  • TEDx is in 167 of 249 countries, representing 96 of the world’s population.
  • There have been TEDx events at Mount Everest Base Camp, Sydney Opera House, the Great Wall of China, and the Exeter Northcott Theatre. This last may not actually be mentioned on the infographic!
  • Collectively, viewers have spent over 3,000 years watching TEDx Talks on YouTube. Watch the talks from TEDxExeter now.
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TEDxExeter 2014 videos are now online

At TEDxExeter 2014 our speakers and performers connected us with other worlds. Our talks exposed corruption in big business, shared effective approaches to tackling social inequality and gave a voice to those whose human rights are under threat. We explored the impact of fast changing technologies on all our lives. We journeyed through fire and forest to frozen landscapes. We were challenged to consider worlds of extremes, cutting edge controversies and risky opportunities.

We are very happy to announce that the talks and performances are now available to view online. We hope that those who were able to be with us enjoy reliving the day, and that those who couldn’t make it are as inspired by them as the rest of us were.

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One week on…

This morning I’m very excited because I’m going to see the videos for the first time. Andy has already been through the live edits. Now it’s our chance to make sure they are as good as they can possibly be.

I’ve been through the live blog and tried to get rid of some of the infelicities. Any typos, misrepresentations, etc etc are still all mine. The website links put it all in chronological order now, and I’ve added a couple of fun addenda to Ann’s and Joel’s posts.

Last night, I went to the opera (my life isn’t always this interesting) to see Bizet’s “Doctor Miracle”. Completely new to me. It struck me that Doctor Miracle would be a good name for a super hero. After hearing Allyson’s talk, goodness knows we need one to help save the NHS.

And finally, I’m sure you were wondering who moved all that cheese left over from lunch. Well, the lovely Sara had the brilliant idea of taking it to Gabriel House of the Shilhay community, who were over the (green cheese) moon.

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Blog blog!

Again, in 2012 and 2013, I collated links to blog posts and photos. So as I’ve created a rod to beat my own back, here we are again. Please let us know of any more out there, and watch this space…

At the frontier

will789gb questioned Simon Peyton Jones’ emphasis on computer science rather than technology.

verbal onslaughts was at the event with her two flatmates and a friend all the way from Prague. She picked out some highlights, pretty much most of the day!

Speaker Claire Belcher hopes that “if just one person in that audience, which included several school groups is able to say ‘wow I never knew that about wildfires’ and it sparks one persons interest and perhaps another via the internet then that’s how ideas start spreading.”

And speaker Patrick Alley summarises his talk, describing “How the logging industry tricked us into financing our own destruction”.

Picture this

“Here comes @TEDxExeter”, a Vine behind the scenes from former speaker turned team member Andy Robertson.

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Tweet tweet!

Thanks everyone for tweeting before, during and after the event. The last two years, I collated some Tweflections on the day, so I guess it’s now a tradition. Here are some from this year.

Everything was awesome!

@MichelmoresLaw : @blondedigital @TEDxExeter – Amazing Day! Inspirational speakers. Plenty to think about.

@SaksExeter : @ClaireKennedy24 @TEDxExeter @Saragibbs2000 @JeanieHoney it was such an amazing day and you did the most incredible job THANK YOU all xxx

@ExeterCCM : .@TEDxExeter Thank you so much for an inspiring, moving and thought-provoking day… Brilliant… You done good… #TEDxExeter #Exeter

@dacors : @TEDxExeter a perfect programme of philanthropy, politics, parenting, poles, prosthetics, postman pat & p-p-p-poetry. pic.twitter.com/2TkbqH4UU0

@honeyscribe : Thanks @TEDxExeter for inspiring day yesterday. A heart-warming reflection of desire & actions that make positive changes to people’s lives.

@diane_boston : great day yesterday @TEDxExeter … so much food for thought but also inspiration to act …. thanks to the whole team

‏@nickex5 : Well @tedxexeter was great. Interesting & inspiring with plenty to go away and think about.

@robjglover : Fabulous #TEDxExeter yesterday – yet another quality production from the @TEDxExeter team

@Sarah_L_Vickery : @TEDxExeter A day of inspiration to act locally and globally. Came away with an idea to follow from every talk. Thank you.

@rachelwh1te : I thoroughly enjoyed last Friday. It was insightful and inspiring. Brilliant organisation on the day too. Thank you @TEDxExeter

Difficult to pick out highlights

@saratraynor : A highlight of #TEDxExeter was @harrybakerpoet performing 59 – a love story involving prime numbers http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=dZ-WUU_Q_Ig … @TEDxExeter

@CEWilmot : Brilliant words @TEDxExeter Friday @globalwitness Patrick Alley co-founder 2014 TED Prize winners. Spread their Wish http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N1O97HZev7A&feature=youtu.be …

@Emmajadebird : Congratulations @cryurchin! MT “@TEDxExeter: Images of @cryurchin speaking at #TEDxExeter http://ow.ly/i/53nX1 http://ow.ly/i/53nXe ”

@thehallexeter : @harrybakerpoet you killed it @TEDxExeter Are there any poetry slams in the SW?

@AmbiosLtd : Inspirational #TEDxExeter Ann Daniels, N & S pole talk @TEDxExeter. Physical adventure And global climate change data pic.twitter.com/MZlbP6xTSM

‏@phillmaddick : @harrybakerpoet – Amazing performance today at @TEDxExeter – Standing ovation from me

‏@phillmaddick : Amazing talk for fair trade technology from @CongoCalling @TEDxExeter @BandiMbubi @ExeterNorthcott #TEDxExeter pic.twitter.com/xIGG0FPCAC

@SaHobson : Lighthearted highlight of @TedxExeter the #Exeter School Vocal Ensemble singing ‘Postman Pat’ #TedxExeter #Postmanpat pic.twitter.com/kqT5D1zJwh

@SaHobson : Inspirational day at @TEDxExeter. @BandiMbubi calling us to demand fair trade technology #fairtrade #TEDxExeter pic.twitter.com/zcc2uVAH9K

@Sarah_L_Vickery : @AnnDanielsGB Thank you for the great @TEDxExeter talk & giving me the inspiration to act to improve marine ecology. Plus you are awesome!!

@robjglover : Slam Poet @harrybakerpoet was awesome at #TEDxExeter well done that man!

@ChrisDavisCLX : Great talk @AnnDanielsGB loved having you with us. @ExeterNorthcott

@Sarah_L_Vickery : @invisibleflock absolutely loved your talk at @TEDxExeter yesterday thank you #whosestreersourstreets Where can I see #bringthehappy?

@AnnaLodgeALC : Mums and Dads #FF @ParentPerspec great talk from Fin at #tedxexeter today. Sage words and sound advice.

Our speakers and performers liked it too!

@ParentPerspec : @saratraynor @ClareBryden @TEDxExeter had a great time! Thanks Sara you’ll have to see how you can use me to help out next year! :)

@vinaynair : Back to London after stunning day at @TEDxExeter. A special thanks to team and the utterly inspirational @ClaireKennedy24 & @JeanieHoney

@harrybakerpoet : Still buzzing from @TEDxExeter – inspiring to know there’s such incredible people out there already changing the world. Videos to follow!

@Fionn_Connolly: Really enjoyed singing in the choir @TEDxExeter. My favourite moment- @harrybakerpoet ‘Paper People’ #TEDxExeter

Looks like tickets for 2015 will be like gold dust

@MariaBowles : @TEDxExeter I definitely want to be there for #TEDxExeter 2015, my flatmates and I have already decided :)

@suscred : @TEDxExeter Inspirational day yesterday. Congrats to the organisers and all the volunteers. Looking forward to next year!

@thehallexeter : Dont usually dish out advice but set alarm for 1/11/14 labeled ‘Buy tickets for @TEDxExeter 2015′ U missed a treat. pic.twitter.com/1dn4naiHZZ

@DramatherapySW : Thank you @thehallexeter for reminding us to also spread the word to our members. Alarms set for 1/11/14 ticket sales for @TEDxExeter 2015

@MrsBoyson : Thank you @TEDxExeter – we had a wonderful time today. They all said “can we come again next year?!”

Thinking about sponsoring?

@TEDxExeter : BIG thank you to our sponsors @WebsitesAhoy @Sonic_Group @SouthernhayHome @ExeterMBA @EgremontGroup @StormpressExe #TEDxExeter

@TEDxExeter : BIG thanks to our sponsors @WilkinsonGrant @Chromatweet @SunGiftSolar @AnTech_Ltd @SouthWestWater @SaksExeter @Jimmillar1975

@SaksExeter : Absolutely loved today @TEDxExeter another incredible independent #TED event this time we were able to help sponsor pic.twitter.com/Bft0gdV2yu

@ExeterCCM : Last Friday I attended amazing @TEDxExeter.. Check-out great future #TEDxExeter sponsorship opportunities.. http://tedxexeter.com/sponsors/ #Exeter

@dacors : @TEDxExeter Danke! Choose D for Dacors and we will deign to donate some dashing designs for your delegates’ details in 2015. Deal?

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Good Morning Devon! TEDxExeter on BBC Radio

BBC Radio Devon spoke to Ann Daniels and Patrick Alley before their talks at TEDxExeter, and the interviews were broadcast during the Good Morning Devon programmes over the weekend.

On Saturday’s programme you can hear Ann Daniels talking about ocean acidification for 4 mins at 01:27:02.

On Sunday’s programme you can hear Patrick Alley talking about the Global Witness logging campaign for 4 mins at 50:19. He can also be heard in the news bulletins at 7am (at 2:33) and 8am (at 1:03:04).

Both programmes will be available on the BBC iPlayer for seven days after their live transmission.

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Thanks for all the fish…

So it’s goodnight from me, and it’s goodnight from him, and her, and them, and everyone. To all in the audience, thank you for coming, and we hope you enjoyed the day as much as we did. We had some time in the Northcott bar with some of the speakers, and they were all buzzing. I think it will take me some time to get to sleep tonight.

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Patrick Alley talk

And so to our last talk, from Patrick Alley of Global Witness, recipients of the TED Prize.

He’s here to talk about a perfect crime, involving a whole host of shady characters. Some are obviously shady. Others wear suits and look like you and I. They destroy habitats, and people’s lives and lifestyles. They are involved in industrial logging in the Tropics.

Logging can be divided into criminal and legitimate, much the same except that the latter has better PR.

Patrick visited Cambodia during the Khmer Rouge return, earning millions of dollars from the trade in illegal logging. Later he was in Liberia, where Charles Taylor used income from logging to prop up his regime. Taylor doled out the rainforests to a coterie of business men. As the logs and money flowed out, the arms flowed in. When Taylor’s timber trade was subject to UN sanctions, the business men escaped intact, or carried on in the Congo.

What makes the crime so perfect is that the shady characters are propped up by less shady characters.

The big myth is that industrial logging in the Tropics brings sustainable development. It is neither sustainable nor does it bring development. It has created the euphemism “sustainable forest management”. In the last decade, Cambodia has lost its forests faster than anywhere, and a generation of farmers has been forced off the land. This despite the World Bank’s involvement. The war ended in 2003 in Liberia, but the problems haven’t been solved, and discontent is growing again. But if sustainable forest management can’t work in a small country, where can it work?

In order to sell the myth, the logging industry requires people to buy in. In Sarawak, a few have become rich using loans from international bank HSBC. The WWF believe logging is inevitable, and want to try to regulate it. But active members of the WWF scheme are involved in illegal logging and human rights abuse. The FSC rainforest logo on loo roll is also problematic. It’s another tool used by loggers to cover their tracks.

Forests are the world’s lungs, regulating water and climate systems. They are home to about half the world’s biodiversity. We can do something, if we regard the rainforests as a fundamental part of the biosphere that gives more value than the financial return. Brazil has recognised indigenous rights, returning power from vested interests to the local communities, a step in the right direction. Similar smaller steps are being made in Liberia. Some rich countries are paying poor countries not to cut the forests down, but more money is needed.

What can and should be done? End impunity, and prosecute the criminals. Stop governments financing destruction using our taxes. Campaign against banks bankrolling the destruction. Encourage WWF to do their job. They need to condemn industrial logging straight out. Reduce our soaring consumption.

Otherwise, we will all, loggers included, become victims of the perfect crime.

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TED Talk – George Monbiot

Another talk now from TED Global in Edinburgh: George Monbiot on rewilding nature. Here’s the video. It got a clap. Love it when that happens.

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Claire Belcher talk

Claire Belcher had to choose between her love of dance and her love of volcanoes. She chose to become a scientist. I approve.

Her job is to educate others, and to measure and quantfy things that help us understand our world better.

Typically our response to fire is about danger and devastation. But fire also does positive things for our planet, including regulating the amount of oxygen in the atmosphere.

Wild fires have been part of Earth’s history for over 400 million years. Claire studies rock layers to understand the incidence of fires. In the south west, there are coals around Bristol from swamplands, red rocks around Exeter from deserts, and the Jurassic coast around Lyme Regis. She has plotted amount of coals and red rocks over 400 million years, and this also indicates the state of the climate.

Red rocks are red because they contain iron oxide, rust. We can say that oxygen levels were lower during the formation of red rocks. What about coals? Photosynthesis releases oxygen into the atmosphere. (We eat plants, and breathe in oxygen, creating an overall balance.) Hence during times when there was lots of vegetation and lots of coal was formed, there was more oxygen in the atmosphere.

At the moment, oxygen forms 21% of the atmosphere. When coals were being formed, oxygen was 10 percentage points higher. 300 million years ago, earth’s system should have gone out of control. What regulated that, to keep oxygen within bounds? The hypothesis is that fire was the regulating force.

The more oxygen, the more fire, and vice versa. And more fires means less vegetation. Fewer fires means more vegetation.

The flammability of forests based on changes in atmospheric oxygen has changed throughout history. But is there any proof that fires have happened at the right times to suppress oxygen? The other by-product of fire is charcoal, which can be preserved for millions of years. So measuring charcoal in rocks can be used as evidence for fires. And the theory matches pretty well.

So fires can regulate oxygen, preventing it on geological timescales from getting too high or too low. What about the modern challenges? We have had a lot of wild fires across the globe, increasing in frequency and destructive power. So maybe ecosystems need to be managed in a way that recognises the relationship with fire. 

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Ann Daniels talk

Ann grew up in Bradford, went to a comprehensive, left school at 16, got a job, got married, had no aspirations… especially to having an idea that is worth spreading.

Having triplets changed all that. She realised that she could do anything! She saw an advert for ordinary women to go on a polar expedition. She had all the qualifications – she was an ordinary woman. She went on a weekend for applicants on Dartmoor, and was annihilated. But she then spent 9 months training, friends taught her how to read a map, and she went back to Dartmoor and got on the team, her biggest accomplishment!

She was on the first leg of a relay across the Arctic ocean. She spent 17 days walking in what she describes as a ‘crystal beast’, with blues and pinks, and booms of moving ice.

Coming back she and four other women hatched a plot to be the first British women team to reach the South Pole. They spent 61 days walking into the Antarctic winds, in incredibly low temperatures, but they made it.

She also realised that scientists actually work there, but before getting involved in science, she had another expedition to walk all the way to the North Pole. Temperatures were unprecedented: -70 degC with windchill, hauling 300lb sledges. And she realised why only 53 teams had managed to undertake the journey. Traversing the ice is harder than the Antarctic land. On day 37, they had gone only 69 of 500 miles. They suffered physical injuries, frostbite and gangrenous feet – unpleasant photo! One of the team had to leave on the next supply plane. They had to swim, in specially-designed orange suits. But again they made it, and set a world record for women reaching both poles.

Ann got to know Pen Hadow, who is an explorer and scientist. He chose her to lead a team on the Arctic ice while he and another collected ice samples and took photos. What’s the point if we don’t do anything with information we collect? The photos are a way of sharing with the world. Every night they drilled and measured with a tape measure. They appeared on the News at Ten.

On the next expedition, she learnt about ocean acidification, collecting samples of water. Since the Industrial revolution, the carbon dioxide we have emitted has been absorbed by the ocean. The oceans have been a buffer, but at a cost. The water is becoming a weak carbonic acid, which is affecting coral reefs, becoming bleached and eroded. Other marine life is suffering, and humans will too, as reef protects us from winds and tsunamis. Phytoplankton can’t produce as much – the bottom of our food chain is being eroded.

We can make small changes that make a difference – buy locally, buy green energy, use the car less, make your home energy efficient, encourage each other to go through glass ceilings and realise our dreams.

Addendum

Here’s another bit of topical Twitter tennis with the Met Office, your friendly Exeter-based national meteorological service.

@TEDxExeter : Hi @metoffice we have @AnnDanielsGB polar explorer speaking at #TEDxExeter today, what is the current weather in the polar regions?

@metoffice : @TEDxExeter Greenland is forecasted light snow and temps between -1 and +1 C over next 5 days http://bit.ly/1maeG9x ^EC

@metoffice : @TEDxExeter Antarctica has light and heavy snow in the forecasts, temps between -5 and 0 C http://bit.ly/1jdrvjF ^ec

Positively balmy!

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Ben Eaton talk

From individual well-being to collective well-being, and the Bring the Happy project. Ben is an artist and interaction designer.

He asks us to take a moment to think about a happy moment: what is was, where it happened, and how happy you were on a scale of 1-10. For several weeks, Bring the Happy ran a pop-up shop in Exeter. People came in with their own moments of happiness, which were plotted on big maps using perspex rods of varying height.

There’s a bit of a lie emerging from the project: that happiness is more complicated that it seems. It’s a hook for conversations about the place where people live, which unpeel layers of meaning. The project started four years ago, when the recession was dragging town centres down and Britain was broken. Bring the Happy wanted to turn the vacant shops into community spaces. The stories all told us something unique about the way that we live. 

There are a lot of TED talks about happiness. Ben’s thinks that these try to tie people down into a model of happiness, which will lead society to be more productive and richer, and hence more happiness. To him, that sells happiness short.

The Bring the Happy project started in Leeds. As in many cities, slums were cleared in the 1930s and people moved into new flats or vertical villages, which became slums themselves, were destroyed, and communities were blasted across the city. But many of the happy memories were centred on those flats. So today, where are we building a space for emotion and memory in the towns and buildings we build? How do we accommodate and celebrate those? Too seldom do we have the freedom to graffiti our stories on our cities. They are our streets.

So take your happy memory and share it with the person next to you (after Ben has gone off stage!). And take that memory and use it as a lens for living your life in your place.

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Fin Williams talk

Now we move from physical health to mental health. Fin focuses on the earliest connection we make: with our parents.

40% of us live stories that become prophecies and influence how we see the world. This is a problem, because they also influence the stories we tell our children. Hospitalisation for self-harm increased 68% in the last decade. Children have low well-being in the UK compared to other wealthy countries. We have become obsessed with progress, but has technology caused a loss of connection? If we are losing connection with our parents, then also losing connections with others.

We rely on what we receive. It’s hard to hear others if we haven’t been heard. We lose trust, and hence our curiosity and toleration for uncertainty. If we have limited ways of experiencing the world, we have limited ways to empathise.

Telling stories, or storying our lives, enables us to reflect and create new connections in our brains. A better understanding of our own experiences gives us empathy and compassion, and we can start to build communities.

Fin’s own story was negative up to aged 18, very rebellious and often grounded in her room. Her father worked long hours and was never seen; her mother ran the house and was disengaged. They coped by having strict control over their lives, and over their children’s. She suffered with anorexia and depression during her A’Levels. She went to university but became pregnant very early.

But she decided not to give up on her baby or her studies. Rebellion became determination and teamwork with her son. Her story changed. She started to remember good things about her childhood: her father building things, holidays and the fun fair. Her now-retired parents became supportive rocks in caring for her son. Rewriting the story changed challenge-in-opportunity into opportunity-in-challenge.

So write your own story. Look at the chapters, and what you learnt from them. Recognise the strength you’ve developed to survive. Ask where your funfair was. Tell someone your story, a friend who will listen without judging. A good story will help you become more resilient and trusting that that friend will be there for you.

Fin’s own story has just taken her out of the NHS, with the dream of turning her years of research into a new initiative to change children’s futures.

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Exeter School Vocal Ensemble performance

And now for something completely different. The ensemble is singing Eric Whitacre’s haunting “Sleep”. Beautiful. A humorous interlude with “Postman Pat”, and they finish up with “The Lonesome Road”. Fabulous blend, tone and all from memory.

 

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Joel Gibbard talk

Joel got into robots because he thought they were cool. His first robot was Clean3PO, which stumbled around his parents’ kitchen.

His favourite robots are those that are inspired by nature, which to many people are creepy. [I'm not going to look up at the video of an 8-legged overly-realistic robot.]

The most natural movement is in the human hand. Each hand has 29 bones, 34 muscles and 123 ligaments. Is it possible to replicate this robotically without necessarily replicating all these intricacies?

Joel built his first effort from stuff he found around the home, but he still managed to get some realistic movement.

When he studied robotics at university, he found that the options for amputees needing a prosthetic was limited, in terms of cost and functionality. He realised that what he was doing could change people’s lives. He wanted to get the latest technology to amputees at an affordable price.

His next hand was sheet aluminium, and chopped up rubber gloves for a nice touch. This attracted a lot of interest, so he made the design open source.

After a stint at an engineering company, he returned to the project and investigated the potential of 3D printing. He quit his job, bought a 3D printer, and moved back in with his parents(!) He could see the potential of 3D printing for both cheap and tailored production. His design uses free software all the way. His latest model can cope with being knocked about, and has smooth and natural movement. The video looks great, but the model he has on stage only has 2 working fingers. The leading prosthetic costs $18K. He plans to sell his for only $1K. For growing children, he can reprint only the parts that need to be replaced over time. Kids’ hands can be customised to look cool instead of awkward.

Joel has found his only limitation has been in his ambition. The next time you use your hands to do something, taken a moment to think about the complex intricacies. Technology has the power to mimic this freedom, and it doesn’t have to cost the earth.

Addendum

Here’s a Vine of “Dextrus hand closing and opening. Except for the pinky finger!” If you can’t view the embedded film, it’s available here.

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Allyson Pollock talk

Now, after a delicious locally-sourced (where possible) lunch, we are back for the first afternoon session, on the subject of health.

Allyson Pollock is a professor and writer on the privatisation of the NHS. She’s going back to the beginning, of the formation of the NHS in 1948. There were two main controversies: that it was unaffordable and that people would abuse it. Neither came to pass. Beveridge designed the NHS to combat the 5 Giant Evils of ignorance, idleness, disease, want and squalor. The key to the welfare state as a whole was redistribution, and that was fundamental to the NHS.

The architects also wanted to keep private interests out. There were few private interests back then… only the doctors voted no, but were fought off. Now they are the NHS’ staunchest supporters, and many protested outside parliament when the Health and Social Care Act 2012 was passed in the Commons.

She has brought along copies of both acts. The 1948 Act is a slim pamphlet. The new Act is a weighty tome. 

The new Act will remove the duty of the Secretary of State for Health to provide health care for all. That takes two pages; the other hundreds of pages regulate the new market, to determine who will get care and how it will be provided.

Risk selection is the basis of a market – how it is identified, priced, allocated and transferred. All this results in fragmentation, not integration. This is the main thing to remember from her talk.

Structures absolutely matter, as an engineer will tell you, and they follow functions, such as the duty to provide healthcare.

In the old system, the unit was the region. Everyone in the region was covered. In the new market, the unit is the insurance fund. Not everyone is covered, because not everyone can afford to pay.

The nationalised NHS was simple, and it was easy to see who was in charge. Powers were delegated vertically. Areas were contiguous, so no-one fell through the gaps. The new NHS is a rats nest of bureaucracy – commissioning groups (CCGs) and regulatory bodies. It’s difficult to see who is in charge, and CCG structures are no longer area-based but insurance-based. Groups who can’t get access to GPs – such as asylum seekers or homeless people – will be excluded. Older people are at risk of being excluded by entrepreneurial GPs or if they have chronic conditions for which care is no longer funded. 

Services are being broken up across the country and put out to tender to commercial companies. There is a complete loss of planning on the basis of need. It’s about choice, but it’s not for patients to choose but to be chosen. The new commercial providers have the power to decide who gets access to care. The NHS is now just a logo providing money – £112bn per year – surrounded by companies like RBS, Virgin, PWC, Circle, Netcare. Many companies have no background in providing health care at all, others are based outside the UK.

Markets cost more, and the cost of health care as a % of GDP has increased dramatically. The US is an exemplar of inefficient market-based healthcare. Inefficiencies include billing, admin, profit, so only 60% is left for providing care and medicines. In the old NHS, only 6% went on admin etc. Then there’s also the waste of providing treatments that are not needed, missed prevention of illness, inflated prices of care and medicine.

What do we need to do? It’s our NHS. We can support David Owen’s NHS Reinstatement bill. Campaign to give the Secretary of State back the duty of providing health care for all. Campaign against hospital closures. Aneurin Bevan said the NHS will be there as long as there are folks left to fight for it. It’s our fight now.

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Bandi Mbubi talk

Bandi spoke at TEDxExeter 2012, and is back to update us about his work with the Congo Calling campaign. The campaign was a direct result of the support following his talk.

He is reminding us of the impacts of the war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The Congo has gold, diamonds, tin, tungsten and tantalum, which are vital components of mobile technology. Congo should be wealthy, but this wealth has become a curse. The profit from the trade in conflict minerals has financed much of the war.

At the moment, there is an international peace process in the Congo. There are signs of hope, but the suffering of ordinary people continues. What can we do?

Congo Calling encourages individuals to lobby for and buy fairtrade technology, and lobby their governments; it encourages governments to develop and enforce legislation; and it encourages technology companies to purchase their minerals from conflict-free sources.

Our actions are beginning to make a difference. TED.com released Bandi’s talk on the same day that Apple released the iPhone 5. Bandi has asked us all to take our mobile phones out of our pockets. He wants each of us to ask our phone company what they are doing to source conflict-free minerals; and ask our MP re what they are doing to support legislation.

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TED Film – Open Translation

TED’s translation project is about connectedness, providing transcripts for talks so they travel across the world. It’s a way of removing frontiers, so everyone can access TED Talks. We’re showing a short video about the project.

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Matt Hayler talk

Matt tells a story of a crappy journey on a bus with a angry baby, teenagers playing music, and tutting fellow passengers. Then one teenager pulls out a battered old iPad with the front camera turned on, to use as a mirror for putting on make-up. The iPad was covered in stickers, and had myriads of uses. It was a moment when Matt realised that something had changed in the world.

We can always be for or against progress. But progress is hard to define. Are things really getting better faster? The reality is more complicated. In one century we have moved from no human flight to landing on the moon. Diseases which we thought we’d snuffed out are now resistant to antibiotics. Technological progress has no value if there is not also moral progress.

Technology has become ‘dull’, like writing, printing or TV. So it is starting conversations about how we work, relax or view the world. We don’t yet know the potential of TV, or high-resolution photography, or mobile technology, so it is wrong to worry about e.g. the death of books or to close down debates.

We imbue our artefacts with a life of their own. We make things special; we annotate and dog-ear books. The iPad on the bus shows that the outlook for e-readers and tablets is not going to be mass-produced featureless items. Being human is about making things more than just things. Yes, we need to have conversations about conflict materials and child safety online, but also we need to marvel about how adaptable we are as a species and how we use things until they are beautiful.

It takes a lot of bravery to let the next generation explore new technologies, let alone follow them. 

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Harry Baker performance

And now for our first performance, from world champion slam poet and maths student.

Harry’s starting with a love poem about prime numbers, called 59. In summary: 59 loved 60 from afar, but 60 thought 59 was… odd. And then 60 met 61, who was like 60, but a little bit more. Together, 59 and 61 combined to become twice what 60 could ever be. A prime example of love!

Through writing this his first poem, Harry discovered poetry slams. Poetry slams are a way of tricking people to attend poetry readings by putting an exciting word like ‘slam’ on the end. Being slam world champion means that his next poem is technically the best poem in the world, according to five French strangers: proper pop-up purple paper people. There’s no way I can blog it, so here’s a video.

Poetry is Harry’s way of investigating worlds without frontiers. His last poem today is about the Sunshine Kid, who had a sunny disposition and had a flare about him. But the shadow people made fun of his sunspots. He struggled at school – being too bright – and his judgment became clouded, and he let his light be eclipsed. And then came Little Miss Sunshine, who was hot stuff and told him we are all stars. Not all the darkness in the world can put out the light from a single candle. Astrophysics in motion!

…and Harry got the first (I may say well-deserved) standing ovation of the day, led by none other than fellow speaker Vinay Nair!

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Simon Peyton Jones talk

At school, we teach children about applicable skills using artefacts that date quickly, like MS Office. We also teach them foundational disciplines and techniques that don’t date, like physics. In IT, we’ve lost sight of the underlying discipline, resulting in focusing too much on technology and not enough on ideas. Simon wants children not to consume technology, but to be creative with it… as a parallel, to be writers of books as well as readers.

Computer scientists are viewed as geeky, but the subject should be thought of as foundational for all. Computer science is about information, computation, algorithms, re-usable skills, communication, coordination, programming, abstraction, modelling, design. All abstract words, so Simon is showing a video of children each holding a number and learning how to sort. The exercise encouraged children to ask questions about doing things better. Now about communication. Can Simon and a friend have a public conversation to agree on a private key that can be used to encode conversation and make it private to them? It’s possible online using what’s known as Diffie-Hellman key exchange.

Why computer science for every child? All children learn science, but not all will become physicists. It’s about learning about the world around us, so we become more empowered. Similarly with the digital world that we inhabit. Computer science has helped us understand the natural world too, such as distributed computation in termite nests, or how human cells decide whether to become kidneys or lungs. And computer science also provides generic applicable skills. (All subjects say they provide generic applicable skills; it just happens to be true for computer science!)

As of 2014, there will be a new school subject and curriculum in England, from primary age onwards. It is being observed around the world in other countries thinking about the same issues. The new challenge is to encourage and equip existing computer science teachers to deliver the new curriculum. Many of them don’t have enough background in computer science, so they need help from the IT sector, including anyone in the audience today. The Department of Education is consciously standing back, so this is the big society in action.

Simon chairs the Computing at School group, a grass-roots organisation, which is at the centre of the challenge of training teachers across the country. If you are an IT professional, get involved. If not, at least talk to your schools.

What are we hoping to gain for our children from this? [Simon's talk follows well from Sonia's] That they are engaged, curious, playful, creative, empowered, informed, and employed(!).

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Sonia Livingstone talk

The photos of the speakers and performers attached to these live blog posts were taken by James Millar at the rehearsals yesterday. No photo of Sonia, I’m afraid, as she could only join us today.

This second session is about how technology is changing and how it is changing us for better or worse. Sonia is a social psychologist, and researches how children engage with the media environment. She conducts surveys, interviews children, and observes how children engage with the media in homes and schools.

When she was a girl, TV had three channels and bedrooms were for sleeping in, but she could go out and play without her mother knowing where she was. Nowadays children have much more access to IT gadgets, but are they happier?

We need to think about the balance between the risks and the opportunities, and we perhaps need to give more thought to developing the benefits of technology.

Research into what upsets children on the internet shows the range of risks: websites for porn, violence, race hate, self harm. Children often know about these first, and they escape regulatory oversight. A national study shows that 4 in 10 children see hate messages, sexual messages, porn, nasty messages, pro-anorexia messages. There have been changes over time, but no clear trends. Not all children who encounter the risks are not necessarily upset by them. So 1 in 7 say that something online has upset them in the last year.

It’s hard not to fear for our children when we see headlines about Facebook bullies and online blackmail. But we need to find a balance, and not necessarily react by imposing more restrictions. Societies have been worried about the invention of every new technology, including Socrates about writing! 

Children who have difficulties at home also tend to have difficulties online. Even since the internet, there have been no changes in the problems, but the internet makes it more visible. The internet is generally not the problem; people are. But there are still some issues.

We are always on. The plethora of communications choices – online or offline, public or private, anonymous or idenitified – is a preoccupation. Everything online leaves a trace. Posts can be edited, shared, search and found. They can go viral, and problems escalate quickly. The platforms continually change, being updated by commerce looking for business, governments looking to shape education and work, technologists looking to make new connections.

The opportunities are positively correlated wth risks: more opportunities bring more risks, and vice versa, just like the wider world. So restricting opportunities restricts risks, and hence the development of children’s resilience. There are between-the-lines dramas between the risks and the opportunities. For example, children like to make new friends; we worry about them meeting strangers.

There are organisations looking at redesigning the internet to better serve the needs of our children. We need to be listening to children, and can’t assume they react to the internet in the same ways that we do. It’s important to them that we don’t over-react to their problems.

The internet has great benefits; the world of information at our fingertips. But the top 10 sites that children visit are the likes of Google, Youtube, BBC, Facebook, Yahoo and Disney, which tend to be a bit branded and adult. Creative and participatory chances are not in their grasp. Can anyone think of 10 great websites for children, as you could think of 10 great books for children? Can we explore a journey of possibilities, rather than lock children into walled gardens? Yet nowadays we’re not good at letting children outdoors or even walk to school alone. So children tend to take their acting out online.

Of course, the internet is here to stay, but can we make it a place where children can explore and create?

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Film – The Grin

A small addition to the programme: a showing of The Grin, the short film associated with Charmian Gooch’s TED Prize wish. Patrick Alley, her co-founder of Global Witness, is talking at the end of the day.

And now it’s time for coffee…

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Karima Bennoune talk

Karima Bennoune seeks to give a voice to people who are living under Islamist fundamentalist repression.

One day, when she was a student and staying with her father in Algiers, she woke up to pounding on the front door. She found herself wondering whether she could protect him – a teacher of evolution – with a paring knife. Luckily, the potential attacker went away. Her father refused to leave the country, and continued to write.

Her book “Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here” contains many untold stories from the peaceful fight against Muslim fundamentalism, based on interviews with 300 people.

The dark decade of the 1990s showed that the popular struggle against fundamentalism is one of the most important but overlooked struggles in the world today, and that these local people need our support.

Many people of Muslim heritage are staunch opponents of fundamentalism and terrorism, for good reason… they are much more likely to be the targets. Only 15% of Al Qaeda’s victims in 2004-08 were westerners.

Karima uses the definition: Fundamentalisms (note the plural) are political movements on the extreme right, which in the context of globalisation manipulate religion to achieve their political aims.

These fundamentalist movements have their diversities – some are more violent, some are NGOs, some form political parties. She’s talking about the extreme right, offensive wherever they occur. They are movements which seek to curtail the rights of minority groups and rights to practise religion, and conduct an all-out war against women.

There has been an increase in discrimination against Muslims recently. Telling the stories of individual Muslims struggling against fundamentalism will help to challenge this discrimination. She has four stories: of Peerzada, a theatre group in Pakistan staging girls school theatre; Maria Bashir, the first female prosecutor in Afghanistan; Burhan Hassan and his uncle Abdirizak Bihi, trying to counter Al Shabaab’s recruitment in Minneapolis to carry out atrocities like the Westgate bombing in Nairobi; Amel Zenoune-Zouani, a woman law student in Algiers, who refused to give up her studies, and was taken off a bus and killed in the street.

Amel’s name means hope, the hope of telling stories and carrying on their lives despite the terrorism. It is not enough just to battle terrorism. We must also challenge fundamentalism, which makes the bed for terrorism. Karima wants us to commit to support people like Amel, who peacefully challenge terrorism and fundamentalism in their own communities.

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TED Talk – Pico Iyer

Now I get a bit of a break, can kick back and watch a talk from TED Global in Edinburgh last year.

Home for Pico Iyer is more about soul – what he carries around inside him – than a piece of physical soil. There are 220 million people now living in a country not their own, a great floating tribe representing the fifth largest nation on earth.

But you can watch the video for yourself…

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Sarah El Ashmawy talk

Sarah is a minority rights activist and Egyptian. In recent years she has been trying to reclaim her sense of identity as an Egyptian, instead of listening to the pernicious message that she should pursue her rights as an individual, not as a member of a people.

As a student, she was talking to a friend about the revolution in Tunisia, and didn’t think it would happen in Egypt… but of course she was wrong. She left the country one week before the revolution, and then had to watch from the sidelines, and had a love-hate relationship with it! She realised she had been disconnected from her country for 20 years, and decided she would return and have random conversations about the revolution. She discovered others also had this bitter-sweet response. One contact described how the government took him in for his anti-regime writings. Until the uprisings in Tahrir Square. 

Before the revolution, everyone was stuck in their categories in a pyramidal structure, and everyone else was excluded. Everyone felt excluded, not matter where they were in the structure. So all agreed they wanted the end of the regime. But the revolution didn’t mean the end of exclusion. The military took over, and trades unions and other groups responded violently. Sarah’s own government (her mother, in the audience!) didn’t want her and her friends to join in. But they went to Tahrir Square and shouted and screamed anyway.

Sarah was in her car when she heard of President Morsi’s decree on the constitution, which protected his back.  That is, the new president had excluded her again from decision-making, and at that point she hit rock bottom. She says this is the sort of government that sows the seeds of violence. People need to find a place and fulfil their own potential, without having to trade freedoms and rights to criticise governments and get involved.

She believes that democracy starts at the margins. Countries need to look inside themselves, and even beyond inequality, to engagement of the people. We need blunt, honest dialogue about all the things we are doing wrong. As a positive example, there is now an electronic map of sexual harrassment. So yes, she still believes that the revolution will succeed.

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Vinay Nair talk

Our first session is about international themes, and our first speaker is Vinay Nair from Acumen.

Five years ago, he found himself in remote NW Mozambique, sitting down and buzzing about budgeting and planning for a social enterprise selling jam, run by women who were HIV positive. They were managing to generate an income, and become active agents in their own futures. One was asked by the Red Cross to set up similar enterprises across the country.

Vinay had a sense that the work was about dignity not dependence, choice not charity. But he’s not a good Samaritan, he’s a former investment banker – his joke! And yet, that experience helped him in the position he is now in, and he wants to explore those interconnections and interdependencies.

A few years ago, he visited Robben Island in South Africa, where he tried to get inside the head of Nelson Mandela. On the way home, he bumped into Gordon Brown at the airport, thanked him for his work on debt relief, and was then surprised when they had a conversation about economics and finance as vehicles for reducing poverty and improving social justice.

Before the financial crisis, Vinay took a sabbatical and spent some time in India. He met Muhammad Yunus, the pioneer in microfinance. He thought initially that microfinance was a silver bullet, but realised that often the goals of social justice had got lost in the push for a financial return. 

So he left the world of microfinance and ended up in Mozambique and then the Clinton Foundation, before studying for a masters at LSE. He got involved in Acumen, and began to work with its founder Jacqueline Novogratz.

Acumen’s model is to take donations, bypass governments and conventional finance, and invest ‘patient capital’ in social enterprises. The returns can then be recycled again and again. It also has a strong focus on ‘how’ it makes decisions, in a difficult and messy area of work. Listening and humility are core, but there is also a need for leadership, audaciousness and accountability.

Vinay found himself back in India, in the rice belt, working with a renewable energy company which was burning rice husks to generate electricity for sale at £1 per month. Because it wasn’t free, people demanded customer service etc – dignity not dependence. There were also improved health outcomes, through not inhaling kerosene fumes, and improved education, through better lighting – not just the financial bottom line.

He’s now leaving Acumen to set up a new initiative in the UK, to tackle poverty and inequality here. There is a need to understand what and how investment can support innovative social enterprise and charities. There’s a lot that can be learnt from Acumen and other organisations, because of the interconnections. As they say in Bantu South Africa: Ubuntu, I am because you are.

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