Sunday, November 27, 2011

[tedfellows] TED Fellows go old school for new ideas

On Nov 27, 2011, at 9:02 AM, TED Fellows wrote:

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TED Fellows go old school for new ideas

Posted by  eric berlow to TED Fellows
In the spirit of the TED Fellows program mission to help “trailblazers spread world-changing ideas”, the second annual "Think Weird Go Big" workshop hosted 7 TED fellows to turn their creative visions into big realities. In an era of social media and a preponderance of virtual interaction, the Think Weird Go Big (TWGB) workshops, organized by and for TED Fellows, focus on the unique value of real human interaction for interdisciplinary cross-pollination. Set at the Swall Institute near Yosemite National Park, the workshop blends focused round-table discussions, group cooking, and kinetic dialogue during hiking sessions along the pristine landscape of the Sierra Nevada. The intimacy, play, and traditional face-to-face discourse fosters collaborations and deeper understandings that would otherwise be impossible.  Below is a summary of the group’s diverse visions for the future:
2011 Attendees 

In "Talk Derby to Me" a scientist and two filmmakers will look at what the human microbiome can teach us about being human. Through the film, a roller derby team will take us from the macro to the micro, into worlds that have rarely, if ever been seen before. What unites us and evens our collective playing field may be the smallest, and most unexpected elements living in and on our bodies.

A new scientific field is emerging that has the potential to radically shift our perception of humanity.  Our bodies contain 10 times more microbial cells than human cells, and 100 times more microbial genes than human genes.  We are thus a complex system comprised of multiple organisms - a 'supraorganism' - and the interactions among our human and microbial components is crucial to our health and well being.  Despite the importance of our microbiota, it is commonly assumed that sharing microbes through human contact is bad.  We will address misunderstandings about the human microbiome by telling a story centered on human connections that the audience feels.  We will take a visceral, emotional approach to illuminate a timely and peculiar issue which has a global impact. Roller derby is the fastest growing sport in the U.S. and a radical platform for capturing public attention on issues surrounding human contact and the human microbiome.

When I was 15, I was almost sold into marriage for 200 sheep in remote Uzbekistan. If I were sold, I'd be living in the mountains of Tien Shain. I'd be making cheese and knitting wool sweaters. I'd be reading a lot of Russian literature and riding a dirt bike. But my father didn't know how to fit 200 sheep in the airplane. Now I live all over the world with my husband Adam and our little son Tian. Sometimes we eat cheese and I don't like wool sweaters. We make films, tell stories and once rode a Yamaha RX135 in North-West India but it broke down after a while.

With a keen attention to detail and deep-rooted passion for finding out what is true, I work to pinpoint the essence of contemporary issues using the most effective means of storytelling to present my vision in compelling ways that maximize understanding by connecting with the emotional while engaging the intellectual. I have covered assignments for The New York Times since 2006 and my photographic work has been exhibited around the world in venues which include Le Centre Pompidou (Paris), La Triennale di Milano, and the Shanghai Art Museum. I also trained as a competitive figure skater for over a decade.

As Director of the Biology and Built Environment Center and Professor at the University of Oregon and the Santa Fe Institute, I have explored microbial biodiversity across the surface of the Earth - from buildings to oceans to forests. I skated for three years on the Emerald City Roller Girls and have long envisioned using roller derby as a tool to convey ideas about microbial science.

We want to help people map and visualize the structure  of complex problems to find powerful leverage points for social and environmental good. As an Ecologist/Complexity Scientist and Designer/Data Artist we are developing an open source platform that maps expert knowledge and perception to view the hidden influence structure underlying problems from climate change to middle eastern conflict.

We are just beginning to recognize the depth of our interconnectedness – and the degree to which solutions to the world’s problems are complex and tightly interwoven. At this critical juncture, now more than ever, we need tools that enable collective problem solving and allow cross-cutting solutions to emerge from a sea of data.

I am an Ecologist, Complexity Scientist and founder of TRU NORTH Labs. For the past 20 years I have been investigating the order underlying nature’s complexity. I apply ecological thinking and complexity theory to help find leverage points in complex problems for social and environmental good.

I am a Designer, Artist, and co-founder of Brainvise: a team of Artists, Designers, Programmers and Strategists. Brainvise delivers elegant solutions to complex visual problems, from Apps to Art. Brainvise's mission is to help people create resonant, creative expressions for their world-changing visions.

"Lyrics For Literacy" is a project that creates a bridge of awareness to encourage the preservation of the Esan language - an endangered native dialect of the Edo State in Nigeria - through storytelling, proverbs and music. 

The curriculum works to energize and promote language history through folk song preservation. The purpose of this music and language integration is to develop an appreciation for Esan history, philosophy, and their relationship to the present day natural sciences, while fostering a deeper understanding of the past and present generations of Edo Speaking people.

"When Women Were Drummers" is the featured presentation and audience-interactive performance, delivering native folk songs, proverbs and wisdom from Esan elders, weaving a diverse tapestry of African and Western language with songs and modern poetry.

In the area of language preservation there is a wide range of research to be done. Lyrics for Literacy is born from a need to promote opportunities for alternative methods of learning and exploring oral languages, as well as to further develop the skills of underprivileged communities in standard English with aid from music lyrics.

Words of wisdom from Esan historian Dr. Okogie C. G. states that language is not only a vehicle through which a people's culture can be expressed, but also a medium of ones imagination, creativity, aspirations and sacred capacity. There is a global interconnecting current responding to our needs to communicate with one another.

My name is Iyeoka. I was named after my grandmother. The native Esan oral translation of my name is, "I am not a female to be insulted. I am one to be fully honored."  In the Yoruba oral translation, my name means "mother who speaks the word." I am fascinated by the subtle influence of the spoken language and our potential access to the bounty of translation and meaning. My name and my journey synergistically encourages me to share the story of the Esan people. 

A network of self-sustained, locally built, and energy autonomous, centers set up in diverse communities of the globe that participate in the development and standardization of novel scientific methodologies in each community. These ¨nodes¨ will act as observatory platforms that track indicators of global changes, while focusing on community empowerment through the generation of knowledge at the local level. They will also serve as cultural and artistic shelters for exchanges and performances.

As a global snapshot, only a very few clusters in the world are considered to be participating in modern knowledge generation and technological development. This means that most societies (particularly those in developing regions) are only applying and not generating scientific knowledge. However, global challenges are culminating and necessitate a paradigm shift on the role of experts. Participatory and community-based initiatives for knowledge generation is a way to understand (and take action) on most of global challenges because not only does it provide billions of eyes and potential new ideas, but it opens new ground for democracy.

I'm a biochemist, an engineer, a filmmaker and an urban art gallerist. After working for 7 years in institutionalized research academia, I currently live a nomadic life with projects that relate to the demystification of science and art. My projects are based in the Basque Country, West Africa, Philippines, Solomons Islands and Chile. I usually work on projects and give lectures about molecular biology, critical views of technological transfer, urban and public art, and participative innovation and co-creation.

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