TEDxSydney 2013: The view from the back stalls

Matthew Parnell - Monday, May 06, 2013

How to compress the experience of a big day out at TEDxSydney 2013? Write a 2500 word blog post or write a few dot points?

Because my patchy command of blogpost technology meant that I wrote over 2000 words, then forgot to save before publishing, I now have the opportunity for option two: the dot points.

So, in short, in my Tedx experience I learned the following:

  • People who love big ideas love talking to other people who love big ideas
  • There's nothing better than hearing someone talk about their life experience when they have lived their life well and to the full, especially under difficult circumstances (Ron McCallum)
  • Those who persist in the face of injustice will prevail in some way (Jen Robinson and Benny Wenda)
  • Crowd sourcing food for big crowds can result in chaos: a miracle not a catastrophe (Jess Miller)
  • There's a lot of space junk: and quite a bit of it is worth keeping (Alice Gorman)
  • The Tawadros Brothers seem to play oud versions of very early Pink Floyd pieces
  • Greg Sheehan plays a tuned percussion instrument which is either from Switzerland or Swaziland
  • Julian Morrow is funny in real life 
  • Political science is now actually a science because of big data: In God We Trust - all others must come with data (Simon Jackman)
  • Danny Kennedy gives good pep talks to those who support renewable energy. The capitalists are coming for your rooftops: This is a good thing.
  • In contrast to Simon Jackman, Lisa Murray (historian) says digital data is not being kept in NSW: its easier to get records dating back 100 years than digital records from 10 years ago. So who's right?
  • Food security for the worlds poor is going backwards: failing to keep up with the schedule in the Millennium Development Goals (Bill Pritchard).
  • Biophilic design is capturing interest all over again, thanks to Joost Bakker revitalising older ideas.
  • TEDxSydney 2013 abandoned the "talk of their lives" requirement for Marc Newson. Why? Maybe because on the of biggest global design heroes was too laid back to give a compelling talk.
  • Biomimetics and Biomimicry are the same concept (I guess) and beetles in Namibia are good at collecting water from dew. Colour only exists in the mind (Andrew Parker).
  • Omar Musa could tell Tony Abbott a few things about Queanbeyan that he doesn't find out on his regular carbon-tax-bagging doorstops.
  • I hope Marita Cheng can keep up that enthusiasm for a lot more years yet: we need more women working in technology and material culture.
  • I may still be around long enough to benefit from David Sinclair's research into switching off proteins that are responsible for accelerating ageing. Where's the switch? We are living longer, but the time spent in good health is decreasing.
  • Musicians can get better as they get older (Kate Miller Heidke).
  • Beat boxers like Tom Thum can be entertaining even if most aren't.
  • Its a real worry when SAS guys turn green overnight and want to blow poachers away: For mine, yes to international efforts to stop poaching, but no to military hit squads. How about a bit more thought into the causes of poverty that make poaching so lucrative by comparison?
  • Rebecca Huntly does the best Prezis I have ever seen. Best point: not the number of people involved, but the spirit of their involvement.
  • The best idea of the day was using biofeedback to create compelling art to help kids deal with invasive medical practices: simply brilliant (George Khut).
  • Housing in Indigenous communities can be healthy if they can deliver the 9 Healthy Living Practices: but this is out of favour in Australia at the minute: its about large number of houses, not functional houses. Good to see that Paul Pholeros is still fighting the good fight. He is another example of someone who has dedicated their life to a cause, and can talk with great power because of it.
  • Never get a comedian to host an ideas callout: its a bit distracting, especially if they are good at improvising.
  • Justine Rogers has cursed any future TED speaker with her 6 elements of a successful TED Talk. And it will be difficult for me to say the word "complexity" in any serious setting or presentation ever again (which kind of makes my professional life just a bit more difficult and calls into doubt my own "shtick").
  • Music is always good to finish: John Butler and Jeff Lang were sensational.
  • And all the other music was great too, along with all the short films.

Quite simply, a great day. Thanks Remo and all the TEDxSydney 2013 Team.

Matthew Parnell

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About Dr. Matthew Parnell - With a built environment background, Dr. Parnell's specialty is buildings and their environmental impacts. Greensynergy Consulting is also active in bringing about change by developing the capacity of people, communities and organizations to adopt sustainable practices and develop strong sustainability cultures.

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Damien Mander commented on 12-May-2013 06:28 PM
G’day Matt, That’s a pretty narrow and assumptive snapshot of what we do. “Blowing poachers away”!! A quick investigation would have allowed you to see that the majority of our work is focused on people development which in turn results in wildlife preservation. 1: Community education and collaboration 2: Education (and national certificates) and employment for rangers whom often have little or no education 3: Community programs to promote sustainable use of natural resources 4: Education in schools – teaching conservation at grass roots level 5: And re-educating rangers to be able to demonstrate the correct escalation in the use of force. This means the minimum amount of force is used to get the job done. Quite important in a country like Zimbabwe which has a shoot on site policy for armed poachers. To date all our incidents I’ve overseen have resulted in arrests as opposed to ‘blowing them away’. And of course the operational side – where our rangers are educated to deal with military trained poachers who use automatic weapons and sometimes even land in helicopters to take out a high value targets. Not all poachers are the poor guys from the village just trying to put food on the table. I’m sorry if my presentation was clouded by your perception of what we do. ThanksThis is my response to Damien's reply to my blog post: Hello Damien Thanks for your blog comment. My blog was merely a potted summary of all I experienced during the day, responding to what was in front of me, at face value: just some thoughts from a bloke sitting up the back. Of all the talks at TEDxSydney2013, yours was the only one I had trouble with: Your approach seemed to me to be deliberately provocative, which is fine per se (we were there to be challenged and stimulated), but I felt that the trajectory of your presentation was jarring and I felt quite unsettled (and not in a good way). The items you raised in your response to my blog were not raised in your presentation, as I recall. If mentioned (and I don't recall any reference), it was only in passing. If you had focussed on what you were doing as a fundamentally community development approach rather than a military ops approach, I would not have commented as I did. I distinctly remember you talking about taking military action against poachers, and in the context of your discussion about equality of all species, I took it to mean that you saw no problem about taking a human life if an animal life was threatened. Frankly, that really disturbed me. I used the phrase "blowing poachers away" not as a quote, but as a summary of my sense of your intent. I felt that my response was fair, given your focus in your talk. If I am wrong in this, and this is not your actual intent, then I stand corrected on what you and your organisation is trying to achieve. I appreciate your passion for your task, as I know full well about being passionate for a cause, but sometimes passion needs to be tempered, lest the wrong impression is given. I'm all in favour of international efforts against poaching, and more power to you and your work if your focus is on community development providing economic opportunities other than poaching. Regards, Matthew

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