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10 Things I Loved About @TEDGlobal Day 1 via TED Live

Manal al-Sharif 2I love TED. I have since I watched my first TED talk about eight years ago.

And I’ve watched many, many, many others since.

I’ve even spoken myself, at TEDxAjman, on the subject of gender parity on world stages.

This week (June 11 – 14, 2013), I’m participating in TED Global via TED Live livestream – it’s the next best thing to actually being there. I know that for a fact because I’ve twice been to TED Global, and, while the experience of being at a TED conference is mind blowing, there’s also something to be said for enjoying it from a distance.

Here are some of the things I loved about the TED Live livestream  experience on Day 1 of TED Global 2013:

Audience participation

Even if you’re not in the audience! Protesters gathered outside during former Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou’s talk. TED Global took cameras into the street to ask protesters what they would ask Papandreou given the chance.  Session host Bruno Giussani then posed one of the questions (via video clip), to Papandreou after his talk. Democratic debate in practice, not just in theory!

Design Innovation

While sessions and speakers were introduced with short graphics/video clips, the intro graphics for each session reflected the session content. This made each sessions seem more like a self-contained unit within the overall whole, and made it easier to follow session themes. Loved it.

Cool “Live” Demos

Talks like the one by Raffaello D’Andrea, in which he showed a small rapt subgroup of the bigger TED audience how drones work using algorithms, was fascinating. It gave livestream viewers a taste of what the more “intimate” TED conference moments are like. Oh yeah, and the pics of the session are equally cool; the video, here, is even cooler.

Cohesive Sessions

In the past, I’ve often had a hard time understanding how certain talks fit with the theme of the session in which they took place – the connections seemed tenuous at times. Today’s sessions, especially “Flying Things,” soared (!) because the individual talks directly related to the session themes.

Both Sides of the Coin

I thoroughly enjoyed the effort to present divergent perspectives. In “Flying Things” we saw both the good that can be done, and the evil that may be wrought using drones. Likewise, Manal al Sharif shared how she was vilified in her home country and glorified beyond its borders (and said lots of quotable things as above). I think it’s enriching to explore ambiguity and examine all sides, not just “both” sides to issues and ideas.

Speaker Diversity

Host Bruno Giussani said the TED Global 2013 audience comprised TEDsters of 66 different nationalities. I also appreciated the diversity on the stage, and the fact that, at least today (if one includes Hetain Patel’s collaborator), close to 40% of the speakers were women.


Thank you for having water on the stage for the speakers.


Clips from TEDx talks around the world. “Pigs CAN fly” from TEDxYale made me LOL (see below for the hilariously tongue-in-cheek talk by Sandra Boynton). Also, thanks for recognizing individuals, partners, TED fellows, and other members of the TED family on Day 1 instead of (or perhaps in addition to) at the end of the conference. Nice.


They were all brilliant in their own way. My heart was with Sandra Aamodt throughout her talk, and I applaud her courage and determination. Few would have been able to do what she did. Kelly McGonigal was amazing (seems it runs in the family!), as were all the other TED Women who set an example for future women speakers. The men shone as well, I particularly enjoyed “replacement” speaker George Monbiot on “rewilding.”


An excellent mix of heartwarming, political, technical, demos, serious, funny, “down to earth,” startling, creative, and innovative. Edifying!

Thanks TED Global 2013 team, I’m looking forward to the rest of the week!