TED Take

Why TED? Why not? Connecting people and ideas. Ideas worth spreading. Those are some of the buzz phrases surrounding the Technology Entertainment Design movement. I suspect, from the 2,200 attendees at the Sydney Opera House on Saturday there were 2,200 reasons for being there and 2,200 different experiences and outcomes. Probably more.

On the weekend I attended TEDxSydney. It was my first foray into the TED world although I’ve seen the odd TED talk video and heard so much positive feedback about TED events from sources I respect.

So I went along, not sure what to expect. To be honest, I didn’t even really read up on the speakers' due to present; I just rocked up with an open mind. Not sure what to make of it, I let each presentation wash over me.

I walked away with a great deal of insight and inspiration that I think will benefit me as a professional and as a human.

My two biggest highlights and revelations

1. If I could only recommend one speaker for people to watch it would be this one (Oliver Percovich - session 3, presenter 2).

Oliver Percovich founded Skatistan, a non-political, independent project that combines skateboarding and education. It is inclusive of all ethnicities, religions and social backgrounds. In five years, Skatistan has grown to employ more than 50 people worldwide and is an award-winning international organisation with projects in Afghanistan, Cambodia and South Africa.
Skatistan may sound like a cute, simple idea but listen to Oliver. It is so so much more.

By the way, did you know that 70 percent of people in Afghanistan are under 25? (Half of the population is younger than 16).

Double shot of happiness

Laser Beak Man Tells The Wiggles To Shut Up

Laser Beak Man and the Barbie Queue

2.  This is the art work of Tim Sharp, an internationally acclaimed 25 year-old artist from Brisbane. After he was diagnosed with Autism at age three, his mother was told that she should “put him away and forget about him”, that he would never feel emotions and she would never hear him tell her she loved him.

His story is extraordinary and his achievements are extensive and ongoing. His mum was scared to dream in the beginning. Their future was uncertain but she knew she had to get up every day and just try. Tim wrapped up the telling of his astounding story by telling us, “Every day is a good day for me. Every day is a happy day for me … she is my mum and my best friend. She is beautiful and excellent. I love my mum.”

Tim and Judy Sharp are a double shot of happiness. 

You know what else made me sit forward in my seat?

During the acknowledgement of country when, after acknowledging that we were on the land of the Gadigal people of the Eora nation, Michael West encouraged us all to acknowledge our ancestors. I guess I am so used to hearing this demonstration of awareness and respect to the Aboriginal land owners at official events, I have never even stopped to consider taking pause to acknowledge my own ancestors, those that have gone before me. His point was by working together and sharing stories, we can make a great country. And we can make a difference.


When author of The Book Thief, Markus Zusak said “Failure has given me a greater motivation to succeed next time; it’s given me a beautiful afternoon throwing the discus in the pouring rain with my dad (who was addicted to tic tacs); it’s given me the power to imagine my way around problems; and it’s given me the courage to follow my own vision completely.”


The moment academic, Adam Alter made me realise I’m really up myself because one of my favourite letters of the alphabet is the initial of my first name. 


He also made a couple of instruments using a garden hose and a feather duster.


photo by Barat Ali Batoor

This photo by Barat Ali Batoor. It was taken on a doomed boat that set out illegally from Indonesia to Australia. He almost changed his mind about attempting the perilous voyage but having been driven out of Afghanistan, where most of his relatives were massacred, he felt he didn’t really have a choice.


Half-way through a presentation I began listening to with polite interest, my heart started aching for a family and the scientific brilliance its heartbreak spurred on.


Hearing former soldier and diplomat, David Kilcullen’s revelation about the power of consumer technology and the hope it provides poorer nations, “… consumer technologies that are out there now flooding the developing world that allow cities and communities to understand themselves in ways they were never able to before to generate the kind of consensus around problems of urban over stretch, of crime, of poverty, sanitation and so on and to come up with that kind of participatory co-design approach that allows them to think about how might we do differently what we need to do in our environment in order to make it more resilient.”


Considering the notions of vengeance, justice and truth and how they relate to the legal system, politics and the media.


When Fred Leone spoke about the traditional language of his people and how it was considered a dead language (he prefers to think of it as asleep). It reminded me of the documentary I saw on Aboriginal runners and when they spoke, their words had to be translated. It felt strange and sad that here, were my fellow countrymen who lived in and loved the same place as me, yet I couldn’t relate to them in any way.


Hearing the principal of Punchbowl Boys’ High School, Jihad Dib say he drew the line when a fellow teacher told him those kids weren’t worth it, so he drew on a sense of family to change the culture and the trajectory of the school. “Where there’s a heartbeat, there’s hope.”


... I knew it was the truth when vocalist, Lior said that to be more compassionate is to be more free. I have experienced this for myself very recently. BTW how is this guy’s voice!?


“A lot of Lady Gaga’s costumes really are period costumes. From the period of, like, Madonna.” – Post

As told by Mark Major

I was looking forward to Megan Washington’s performance all day. And she kicked the whole thing in the guts with her own TED talk to share her story of life as a stutterer (still). Huge ups. Love her even more now. Brave woman.

And what about her latest song?


This video.


This curious crooning.

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