Second part of LeaderShape vision: TEDxEducationCity

Now that I have TEDxYouth@Doha under my belt as my first TEDx event post-TEDGlobal 2011, my efforts and attention have now shifted to the grand plan that was the primary reason for my efforts – TEDxEducationCity.

It’s been 3 years since TEDx was launched as an experiment to open up the TED platform to people around the world. Everyone would want to attend a TED Conference, but it’s a challenge moving atleast 700 people from place to place (Trust me on this, as I went to TEDGlobal). Now, I’m able to channel my 1st hand experience of having freshly organized a TEDx event towards this one taking place in April 2012.

This is something that I had envisioned differently when I went to LeaderShape, but I waited for the right opportunity to make this happen. It’s quite a useful fact to know that the very 1st TEDx event was a University event – TEDxUSC on March 29, 2009 (Read here for more). It was a pilot even that set the precedant for 1000s more TEDx events around the world. As of current numbers, there are over 3,000+ TEDx events and 13,000+ TEDxTalks; this number is set to further grow as it spreads around to many communities.

TED has learned a lot from 3 years of the TEDx platform being out in the open; using the concept of auditions by individual TEDx events and channeling it to a global search for TED2013: ‘The Young, The Wise. The Undiscovered’. I thought… why not take this further, especially for a University type event? Continue reading


TEDxEducationCity and TEDxYouth@Doha

What you’re about to hear is something I had envisioned in a different perspective back in LeaderShape 2007 (first international campus session, and that was in Qatar) when I was still a Carnegie Mellon Qatar student. I know that it has taken this long for it to materialize as it went through much refinement, but I’m confident that these will be the first steps to making it happen. I’ve even had limited success on certain things, and I knew that I needed to push harder.   Rather than starting from scratch, it made sense to use some of the current groundwork and build upon it for others to utilize.


My fellow readers and those currently living in Qatar, I present to you…
TEDxEducationCity & TEDxYouth@Doha


I was granted the license for the former after June 25, before my journey to TEDGlobal 2011. The latter one came about after my return on July 24, when the seeds were planted early in Scotland and they just grew out of proportion when it became deeply rooted into my conscience. I wanted to wait until after Ramadan to unveil this, as that’s when people would be wanting to have their ears open with the bustling of work and classes. Onward to the details… Continue reading

TEDGlobal Day 5: What’s Next from the ‘Things We Make’?

They say that all good things must come to an end. As much as I’m sad that I wrote this entry, I know that my TEDGlobal 2011 adventure doesn’t end here in Edinburgh. It still lives on with numerous other TEDx events held around the world in their respective communities.

As my insatiable appetite for all things TEDx wouldn’t end, many TEDx organizers had earlier requested a session with June Cohen with regards to speaker selection. It was off to the lower levels of the EICC to Club TEDx where other TEDx organizers including myself. The focus was on speaker selection and invitation for one’s TEDx event. Building on what was shared at the TEDx workshop on Day 0, the TEDx team along with June helped to sharpen out the counsel that attending organizers can use as a reference for their events when they return.

Immediately when the meet ended, I rushed up to the top floor hoping that I’ll have the chance to get a seat in the auditorium. Good thing the crowd was still light, and started filling up in about 15 minutes before the doors opened. Next thing you know, the doors open and people flock in. Moments later, Chirs Anderson takes to the stage to open the finale of TEDGlobal 2011.

TEDGlobal Day 4: Workshops and movie screening to Embracing Otherness and Feeling

Day 4 started off in a different way. A month prior to the main conference program, all attendees received an email that had selections of either workshops or an exclusive screening of Google/YouTube’s “Life In A Day” movie. Each of the workshops were hosted by Levi’s, Blackberry, and Coffee Common; all of them are partners in some manner for TEDGlobal 2011. I got that email on midnight of my time, and I couldn’t make up my mind. When I awoke the next day to sign up for one of the workshops, they were all taken. Luckily, the movie screening wasn’t even filled up. Guess something is better than nothing.
Making my way upto the Sidlaw Theatre that is near the main presentation area, everyone with the screening tickets ushers themselves into vacant seats. The theatre did pack up, but we still had the issue of light spilling into the darkness, that would end up ruining the movie screening. Luckily, the TED staff figured out a solution in split-second and got some makeshift drapes over the corridors.

Dan Cobley from Google helped to kick things off to give the audience an insider about the movie. The origins can be traced back to Google’s private version of Dragon’s Den (It’s a TV series, and highly recommended to watch). They chose to try something new with regards to film making, and crowd-sourcing it seemed like a big feat. They narrowed their window to one date – July 24, 2010. With many people scattered across the globe, they were sent cameras, which would then record that one day and send the footage back to YouTube for processing and rough cuts. Dan said that it took quite a while to view and select the required clips.

When the screening began, LG’s logo sprouted up as being a sponsor for this movie. Following that, 2 names along the lines of Ridley Scott and Tony Scott. I was in awe, thinking that these guys must have had a hand in this movie, especially the former whose credentials stretch back to Gladiator.
When the screening finished, everyone clapped to a loud applause. Dan announced that it would make its way to cinemas, and then later released on YouTube for free. Talk about new channel of distribution. Everyone made their way out of the theatre, and I saw the whole area began to spin around. I realized that this merges with the bigger one to add more seating. Never saw that in any presentation hall. Continue reading

TEDGlobal Day 3: All things TEDxWomen, Future Billions to Bodies, and TEDxChange gathering

Sticking to our usual TEDx program, day 3 kicked off at the social spaces in the lower level of the EICC as TEDxWomen took the stage. Pat Mitchell from the Paley Centre for Media, who also helped to co-host the one-off TEDWomen in December 2010, was on hand to share details along with Betsy Scolnik. Seeing the success of TEDWomen, it’s now become TEDxWomen in collaboration with TED. Some of the details on hand included that there will be 2 sessions in the U.S – one in Washington D.C and the other in LA (unless my memory serves me right). The date has been set for December 1. Lara, being the Director of TEDx licensing, was at hand along with June Cohen to share here thoughts.
Opening it up to other TEDx organizers, I jumped in with the thought that this shouldn’t just focus on women but also younger girls as they play a bigger role in society. What followed also included insightful contributions on how TEDx events around the world can join in on the conversation on the event day, not just restricting it to watching a simulcast.

In addition, today 1000s of people across the world will be watching Day 3 of TEDGlobal 2011 courtesy of TEDxLive-based events through numerous TEDx simulcasts being held concurrently. Plus, I got an email saying that all TEDx organizers should be in the live presentation hall for Session 6. I don’t know what to expect, but I drilled that reminder deep into my subconscious.


Following this, it was already evident that I wouldn’t even make it to the live presentation area and snag a seat. I decided to retreat to my usual spot in the Bloggers Alley, with Matej keeping me company. One thing I realized is that being in the social spaces has an advantage – you also get to be early to the lunch line. Continue reading

TEDGlobal Day 2: Professors wrap up and speakers take stage

Day 2 kicked off in full throttle at 7:30AM , as a bunch of TEDx organizers convened in the social spaces 2 levels below in the EICC. As part of our schedule, all of the TEDx team along with the attending TEDx organizers will be convening to meet for brainstorming sessions  with respect to each of the official TEDx events that have been announced: TEDxYouth, TEDxWomen, TEDxChange, and last but not the least TEDxWWW.


First up was brainstorming for TEDxWWW. Plenty of people were bitten by the early bird bug, as TEDx organizers and the TEDx team were present at Club TEDx. Bruno Giussani was on hand for a while before he had to head up to prepare for the conference opening with Chris Anderson. As the meeting began, plenty of questions were thrown around regarding how TEDxWWW will be structured as it will be taking place in Qatar on April 2012. Confusion did ensue from one question to another, but it was clear that this is a TEDx event for TEDx organizers. Amanda Palmer helped to dispel any misconceptions revolving around TEDxWWW. Topics regarding content, curation, and more were being thrown around by other TEDx organizers. One thing to highlight is that the attendees have a good amount of input towards TEDxDoha – this will be happening on the very next day when TEDxWWW ends. TED is even getting involved with the workshop, and playing a smaller role in TEDxDoha as they see the community taking the lead towards helping to curate the talks.
Some even claimed that the whole purpose of TEDxWWW was miscommunicated, and still confused many people. Even the TEDx team have taken it upon themselves to workout as much as possible before registration begins in October 2011.

TEDGlobal Day 1: Swollen numbers, tours, and insights

On Day 0, we were an amazing 110 that had an intimate and insightful gathering where we brainstormed and discussed many TED and TEDx-related things. It almost felt like I was already getting comfortable with the people I was meeting at my first ever TED conference. The sheer power of the TEDx community was brimming with enthusiasm, determination and passion to create change. I didn’t realize that looming far over the horizon, things would drastically change.

Day 1 begins at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre as 100s more of attendees flock in for their registration checkin. I realized that I had my voucher to pick up my TED Gift bag, but I’m saving that for later. Attendees who had registered for tours were waiting for their respective shuttles. I decided to venture around capture as much as I can. That also surprised someone else. Dr. Bob Monroe (Associate Dean of Carnegie Mellon Qatar) was also attending, but he didn’t know that I was. I caught him by surprise as I was just passing by the registration queue when I spotted him and then he spotted me. An exchange of greetings and brief chatter before he was up next to pick up his goodie bags.


I was trying to work on my Day 0 entry as much as I can, while witnessing many more new attendees also flocking in from the entrance. I signed up to a tour that revolved around ‘holistic sustainability’ and seeing a dockyard (Will save the juicy details for later). It was a coincide that when I boarded the bus for my tour, guess who else joined me? None other than Bob. Even met a Georgetown D.C campus graduate who is working in Dubai, and also happens to know about the Doha campus. Around 9:30, we were off to our tour with the Scotsoun House by Arup being our first stop. Parallel to the tours, TED was having the TED Fellows speak at the Lyceum Theatre across 2 different sessions. Many things overlapped, but the tour was worth it.


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