Forces of Change: A Q&A about a TEDGlobal session exploring world-shaping shifts emerging from Asia & Africa

TED Fellows Erik Hersman and Adrian Hong have curated the TEDGlobal 2013 session “Forces of Change.”

TED Fellows Erik Hersman and Adrian Hong have curated the TEDGlobal 2013 session “Forces of Change.”

Only one thing is constant in the world — that things will continually change and evolve. Session 9 of TEDGlobal 2013, called “Forces of Change,” will explore how, in recent years, much of the change happening in the world has originated in Africa or Asia. This session, which will be guest curated by TED Fellows Erik Hersman and Adrian Hong, will explore the powerful and unexpected forces of change emerging from these continents, from political upheaval to economic shifts to art and innovation.

How did this session originate?

Erik Hersman: When TEDGlobal director Bruno Giussani approached us last year with the idea to guest curate a session together, we jumped on a call and started thinking about how the people we know and admire, the movements we see, the world that we are a part of could best be showcased on the TED stage.

Adrian Hong: The theme “Forces of Change” is a way to highlight the strong movements, energies and people that are driving major shifts in the world, particularly in Africa and Asia, the regions in which Erik and I work.

How do your professional backgrounds and interests complement each other as co-curators for this session?

Hersman: As a technologist based in Kenya, I tend to focus on Africa, specifically in the fields of technology and business. Adrian is a sociopolitical strategist and advisor engaged in Asia, North Africa and the Middle East. Both of us have been involved with the frontlines of technology use in these regions during political change and unrest, as well as for business. This made it easy to tap into our knowledge of people and organizations in each region to bring interesting insights into the TED community.

Hong: Erik and I both tend to travel quite a bit and come across people, players and insights that aren’t always readily accessible or apparent from a distance. We’re both excited to be able to highlight some of those in this session. Erik and I have also known each other for years — we were both in the first class of TED Fellows and TED Senior Fellows. We also share an affinity for promoting innovation and forward-thinking in austere and challenging environments.

How did you go about choosing speakers?

Hong: We both tried to find speakers who represent the future that is being made now — voices that are heralding, in some way, what is to come in places that are also critically important to their respective regions, as well as globally. There are some real shifts underway now, just under the surface, that will reshape entire industries, continents and interests. We’re quite fortunate to have been able to grab some speakers who are at the forefront of either leading the charge, or of understanding shifts that may be less apparent to the untrained eye.

Hersman: Looking for speakers was a lot harder than I first imagined. It’s not just important to find someone doing something interesting, new or insightful, but also someone who can tell the story of what they do in a way that resonates. We ended up starting from the very top, the people we admire and who are actively involved in doing some of the most exciting things, or doing the best job at researching or writing about their work. Luckily, almost all of these people were available, so we’re excited to introduce them from the TED stage in Edinburgh.

To read the full interview, visit the TED Blog >>>

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