Sunday, June 26, 2016

TEDx Global Forum

It's called the Global Forum and it is truly global. In my two days here I've interacted with people from Afghanistan, Australia, Bangladesh, Belgium, Brazil, Costa Rica, Egypt, France, Germany, India, Japan, Korea, Mexico, New Zealand, Poland, Serbia, Singapore, South Africa, Sweden, Thailand, Turkey, UK, and lots from across the US and Canada. Everybody here has hosted one or more TEDx events (up to 30 for one person), and they all behave like global citizens. An astonishing number are living outside their home country, the Canadian in Bangkok, the Italian in Japan, the Australian in Singapore, the Belgian in the Netherlands, the Brit in Poland, the German in India, the American in Bangladesh. Even those who still live in their home country have a global perspective and attitude and they're absolutely fascinating and invigorating.

The Forum has featured three major workshop breakouts around Passion, Purpose and Action. Many of the TEDx community are chafing at the bit to do more with the incredible platform represented by TEDx events. The TED team originally expected a handful of TEDx events a year, but there are now about 3,000. There were pictures of some really interesting ones. The one from Jeddah was both disturbing and inspiring: while a screen separated the women from the men in the audience, male and female speakers mixed on stage. I guess the good news is that at least the women got to go but disturbing to see the audience segregated at an event to spread ideas.

Because the TEDx experiment has been so successful, and so many people have several events under their belt already, people are eager to take the platform to the next level. To start with, one of our breakouts was about trying to capture what TEDx does now, and I think a young guy in our breakout room really nailed it "to spread local ideas globally and global ideas locally".

Then, on to what could be next. In the Action breakout session, many themes emerged. There was considerable support for  loosening the rules for TEDx organizers (tricky to do without risking the brand) with the feeling that something like TEDx LAB might let people test different approaches to explore what could work.

My own personal wish is that TED's passion for opening minds would spread beyond those who already think that way. If TED and TEDx could help more people to think with an open mind, rather than based on prejudice and unfounded myths, could it actually help the world be a better place. As one participant in our session put, could TEDx make a contribution to shining light on the pools of ignorance in the world. A lofty ambition, but that's the kind of thinking being bandied about here!

By the way, all of our badges mention three things people should ask us about. I chose Innovation, Travel and Blockchain for my badge. I keep getting asked to explain blockchain. Don Tapscott is one of the speakers here and he is also hosting a breakout session, so I think the requests for explanations will die down quickly once the expert who's written the book has elucidated the subject!

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