November 30, 2009

TEDxGöteborg

On Saturday, I was one of 200 selected applicants to attend the first TEDxGöteborg event, which is one of several locally organized TED talk events that the famous TED organization endorses (but does not organize). The event was a well-organized gathering of people from different backgrounds watching a number of live talks by inspiring thought leaders combined with a number of selected talks streamed from the TED website.

This was a full day event, which included the following list of speakers and performances;

  • Ramnath Narayanswami
  • Kajsa Sperling
  • Julian Treasure
  • Jesper Larsson
  • Olof Kolte

-- Group discussion --

  • Remmy Shawa
  • Aimee Mullins
  • Magnus Larsson
  • Karolina Nätterlund

-- Visualization of audio: performance by Sönderbyggd --

-- Group discussion --

  • Caren Steel
  • Jacob Lagerqrantz

-- Musical performance: Göteborgs Indiekör

It was an interesting and varied discussion covering subjects such as biomimicry for solving technological challenges, new uses for bacteria, gender-based violence in Africa, creative destruction of industries through disruptive innovation, how to prevent desertification, how the perception has changed on disability, sustainability in transportation and food distribution. I think that the organizers had done an excellent job in creating an innovative atmosphere and the schedule was set with a number of coffee breaks for group discussion and debriefing of the covered topics.

There were several highlights but I want to mention two that were particularly interesting. Jesper Larsson talked about how he had redefined the concept of accommodation when being away from home. He has, together with sponsors and colleagues, started something that he refers to as a creator's-inn. Basically this is a way of providing free accommodation for artists when they perform their creative work away from their home city. Jesper and his crew have, among a number of examples he presented, built hotel rooms that should feel like "home". In these rooms there are clothes in the drawers for those who wishes to use them, music records to listen to, a wallpaper with a city map where visitors can recommend good restaurants to each other using post-its and even an online directory with suggested people to hang out with. These things are all possible through the collaborative effort of a number of altruistic soles that likes helping others. The beauty of this is that creates a "win-win-win-win situation" since the idea benefits creators (staying for free), local creative organizers (can offer guests accommodation), culture of the city (makes the city attractive to go to for creators), creative exchanges (more creators may be able to travel and perform at other places) and sponsors (e.g. IKEA that seemed to have contributed with some of the furniture).

Another highlight of the day was a talk given by Karolina Nätterlund who talked about how knowledge from biology may be used to solve everyday technological problems by imitating nature. Karolina who is a former student from the engineering design program at Chalmers has also started the company Equidesign, where she focuses on bringing in biologists to brainstorming sessions about solving commercial problems. There must be countless interesting features in nature (just think about spider webs or different forms of venoms) that could be used as an interdisciplinary problem solving (Biomimicry) approach to everyday problems.

Tobias Thornblad

(Contact via Twitter)

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