I’m here as a guest of Nokia, which first teamed up with TED on Pangea Day in May last year, aiming to bring people together through the power of short film. The project highlighted the synergy between TED’s mantra of ‘Ideas Worth Spreading’ and Nokia’s ‘Connecting People’ tagline.
Along with IBM, (RED) and others, Nokia is sponsoring the next four day’s proceedings and doing some sessions of their own along the way. For one, they’ll be livestreaming this afternoon and tomorrow to the Wielden & Kennedy offices back in London, and have hooked up with the Social Media Cafe (a.k.a. Tuttle) to do so.
Yesterday there was a mass of preparation for the days ahead. As Jonathan Zittrain, Stefan Sagmeister, Beau Lotto and other TED speakers were testing slides and lighting, the crew of the Oxford Playhouse made some final tweaks to the stage. I walked past the venue last night on my way to registration (which I missed!), and it looks like a fantastic building.
This year’s concept is ‘The Substance of Things Not Seen’, which looks at the hidden social, cultural and biological frameworks that link communities together. This plays so clearly into the things I’ve worked on and studied in my life, as well as forming an undercurrent for the most of what I talk or write about now.
The TED team have outlined a series of questions the event will try and cover. ‘What is an accomplished life?’ is one that I’m particularly interested in, as it’s come up so many times for me of late while planning a new career and taking some big risks. ‘Where does motivation come from?’ is another one I can see myself discussing at length.
Others that get my mind whirring include ‘What do top-secret places look like?’ and ‘Can a solar-powered plane fly?’ If you’ve read my post from yesterday, you’ll know that ”What’s the power of music?’ is another I’ve got my own theories on.
We’ve been asked to clear our minds (and actually aren’t allowed mobiles/laptops in the theatres), so that we can fully devour the schedule of now-famous 18 minute sessions. These will cover the usual eclectic mix of inspirational speakers, music, new technology and great thinkers.
First thing today, starting in about an hour, will be the TED University sessions. This gives TED attendees the chance to take the stage and share their own knowledge.
After that, I’m looking forward to the opening panel covering ‘What we know’ and featuring Stephen Fry and philosopher Alain de Botton. Some say de Botton states the obvious, others that he makes literature more accessible. I’ve never seen him speak so I’ll reserve judgement till later. After that comes Willard Wigan (who produces sculptures small enough to fit on the end of pin, how awesome), Mark Johnson (‘change producer’) and others talking about whether ‘Seeing is Believing’.
On Wednesday, I’ll be front row to watch Imogen Heap and Rory Sutherland (on an uber-sized panel) discussing ‘Connected Consequences’. Then my highlight for Thursday will be Rory Bremner’s panel with Geoff Mulgan (director of the Young Foundation) and others in the ‘Worldwide Rethink’ session. I saw Rory speak at the ICA’s Figures of Speech Gala and found him to be incredibly genuine, as well as insightful. Good times to come I think.