Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Ai Weiwei at TED

It's been a while since I've written about talks at this year's TED conference, the main focus of this blog over the years.  I hope to correct that in the coming weeks.

Today, I got prompted to restart.  It was reported that Ai Weiwei, the Chinese artist and activist, has been released from prison, essentially on the Chinese equivalent of bail. 

Weiwei had secretly put together a video specifically for TED.  Weiwei told us of the persecution he faced in China for speaking out against the government: you can't search his name on search engines in China, his blog is censored, his studio was bulldozed, and he is under constant surveillance.  The surveillance looked relatively benign, at least during the filming, when Weiwei chatted with some of his followers.  However, he had been beaten in a previous arrest. 

One of Weiwei's causes was the investigation of the student casualties in the 2009 earthquake, and this investigation has been heartily rebuffed by the government.  There have been rumours that the students who died because schools had been flimsily built.

Weiwei is impressive for his courage in standing up to Chinese authorities.  However, I have to say this wasn't one of the best talks at TED, as TED talks go.  Better to read more about Weiwei than to listen to his TED talk.

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