Tag Archives: TED2014

Uldus confronts her social soul at TED2014

Above: A video selfie of Uldus in the immersive digital experience Social Soul, TED2014.

Russian artist photographer Uldus often makes herself the subject and object of her own work, both poignant and ironic as it explores the contrasts and contradictions inherent in being an individual within Russian culture. We’re working on a full-length interview with Uldus, but in the meantime asked her to share a snippet of her experience at TED. True to form, she sent us this video self-portrait…
How was your TED2014 experience?
My TED experience was awesome. Things happened in easy ways – like meeting Cameron Diaz, who said she loved my work and my talk. I met creator of Siri (for iPhone), which I use a lot, the creator of Kickstarter Perry Chen, and many people I wouldn’t have expected to meet! I also experienced meeting my social soul in the Social Soul exhibition. That’s a funny one: you log in to your Twitter handle, and when you enter the room, all your Tweets and your friends’ tweets come to life – you hear them and see them. After you exit you get your social soul mate profile, someone who is supposed to match you perfectly.
Did being at TED change your perception of your own work? 
Not really, but it proved to me that my work is more understandable outside of my own country, at least at the present time.
Uldus with TED2014 roommate, fellow photographer Kitra Cahana.

Uldus with TED2014 roommate – fellow photographer Kitra Cahana.

Collaborative constellations: MAPPing the TED Fellows network

The TED Fellows Collaboration Network MAPP

The TED Fellows Collaboration Network MAPP

What’s this galaxy-like cluster of dots and lines? It’s a still shot from the TED Fellows Collaboration Network MAPP, a rich and interactive network map documenting the patterns of cross-disciplinary collaboration among TED Fellows over the past four years. Presented by Eric Berlow at the TED2014 Fellows talks, the visualization was created using MAPPR, a new cloud-based network mapping tool – launched here at the conference – that allows anyone to author shareable interactive network visualizations.

The TED Fellows program began as a way to support and amplify the work of original young thinkers and innovators. But then something unexpected happened – the professionally diverse community, which includes scientists, makers, civil rights activists, artists, technologists and beyond – became its own living, breathing organism. Fellows began reaching out to each other for all manner of cross-disciplinary collaboration far beyond original expectation. Some unusual examples include a sitar player collaborating with an open hardware maker to incorporate Arduinos into a new carbon-fiber sitar, and a microbial ecologist collaborating with a journalist and a filmmaker to create a sci-fi graphic novel about the human microbiome set in Paris. A whopping 84% of the Fellows documented in the collaboration network had at least one cross-disciplinary collaboration.

MAPPR itself is a creative collaboration between three Fellows: ecologist and network scientist Eric Berlow, artist/designer David Gurman and computer scientist Kaustuv DeBiswas, who have launched Vibrant Data, a data storytelling boutique located in Chinatown, San Francisco. They’re currently focused on building MAPPR to enable collaborative understanding of complex networks. Current custom projects include mapping the collaboration network of faculty at the University of California, Berkeley, and visualizing the ecology of human creativity – all built on top of the MAPPR architecture.

We asked Berlow to tell us more.

What is MAPPR, and what does it do?

MAPPR is a cloud-based tool that lets you create interactive visual data stories about how things are connected. These network stories can be about anything – from MAPPing the network structure of collaborations among the TED Fellows, to identifying patterns of funding among donors and grant recipients, to unraveling the Goridan Knot of regional interests in the Syrian Civil War.

How does it work?

MAPPR allows anyone to upload custom datasets of relationships and publish them as online custom network visualization stories. Each node and link in the network can be its own multimedia microsite. For example, in a network of who collaborates with whom –such as the TED Fellows collaboration network — each node can contain people’s bios, images, videos, and so on, and each link can display multimedia information about that specific collaboration.

Who can use it?

Network visualization isn’t new, but it has remained relatively inaccessible to non-experts. But anyone can use MAPPR. It’s designed to make network science accessible to anyone interested in visualizing and sharing a story — or Network MAPP — about how things are connected.  MAPPR is currently in private beta, and people can sign up at Mappr.io. We’ll notify them when it’s ready, likely the end of April 2014.




For the love of Tom: TED Fellows celebrate five years of fearless leadership

TED2014 Senior Fellow Sarah Parcak presents TED Fellows Director Tom Rielly with his very own muppet.

TED2014 Senior Fellow Sarah Parcak presents TED Fellows Director Tom Rielly with his very own muppet.

The Fellows turn five! During the TED2014 Fellows talks, the Fellows hijacked the stage to honor the man who has helped the Fellows program flourish from a class of 20 Fellows in 2009 to more than 300 Fellows from 80 countries in the last five years – seeding friendship, collaboration and a powerful network of maverick innovators. Senior Fellow Sarah Parcak presented Rielly a muppet of himself, and spoke on behalf of all the Fellows:

“Your vision has not only changed TED, but has profoundly changed each and every one of the Fellows’ lives. We all constantly feel gratitude and humbled that we are allowed to participate in such an incredible community of game-changers and world changers. You are part Effie Trinket, part Willy Wonka, and part Conan O’Brien. Your vision, compassion, kindness and humor are a testament to the fact that you are one of the world’s most special human beings.” 

The muppet wears a badge that says, “Talk to me about hot tubbing, my glasses, and hot men.”


Tiny and beautiful worlds: Talking molecular animation with TED2014 Fellow Janet Iwasa

At the TED2014 Fellows talks, Janet Iwasa’s astonishing video showing the process of molecular self-assembly went by very quickly, a flurry of green strands and fragments fluttering and flying into the shape of a soccer ball. If you missed it, or if you’d like a more in-depth explanation of what is actually going on, watch a longer version of the video, above. Iwasa spent years learning the 3D software that allows her to model these processes. This week at TED2014, she is launching Molecular Flipbook – free, open source animation software that will make it easy for scientists to create their own molecular animations, allowing them to visualize, modify, and share their own hypotheses. Here, Iwasa tells us about the importance of molecular animation to the research process.

What are we seeing in this video?

This is a process that’s called clathrin-mediated endocytosis. Basically, it shows how a bubble (or vesicle) is formed from the membrane that surrounds the cell, allowing molecules that were once outside the cell to get trapped and taken in.  This process is important for a number of things, like how cells communicate with other cells and how they interact with their environments. It’s a process that can also get hijacked, for example, by viruses that want to gain access to a cell.

How did you begin animating molecular processes? 

When I was in graduate school, I realized that the way we visualize hypotheses — typically using simple stick-figure like drawings, didn’t capture all of the information we had about how processes occur. We use a lot of different kinds of techniques to understand what molecules look like, how they move around in a cell, what interactions they have with other molecules, and what reactions they carry out, and a lot of these things aren’t conveyed in these simple drawings we make. I started learning 3D animation in order to better visualize the processes that my lab studied, mainly as a way to better communicate our ideas with other researchers.

Why is it important to do so?

Historically, physical models have played an important role in scientific discovery. Paper models were critical in the discovery of the structure of DNA and of proteins. Nowadays, many of our hypotheses in cell biology involve lots of molecules, moving dynamically over time and space.  It’s hard to make physical models that show these ideas, but we can use animation software to visualize what we’re thinking about. These models are important not only for communicating our ideas, but also for exploring our data, and understanding complex hypotheses. Having models that truly reflect our hypotheses will allow researchers to ask better questions and design better experiments. Animations are also a great way to share our research and ideas with broad audiences, including students and the interested public.

And this week you’ve launched animation software for molecular biologists called Molecular Flipbook. What is it for, and why do scientists need this when they can rely on animators like you?

I’ve been using a commercial 3D animation software from the entertainment industry to create animations. I’ve held workshops to teach this software to biologists, and have found that it’s really time-consuming and unintuitive for most researchers. They almost immediately forget how to do simple tasks, like rotating the screen or object, if they haven’t used the software in a day or so, and they get frustrated by that. For animation to become one of the tools that researchers use regularly, it needs to be more intuitive.

So, through a grant funded by the National Science Foundation, I brought together a team to create new animation software that’s free and open source, and designed it specifically with molecular biologists in mind. We’ve done some testing, and found that biologists are able to start creating their own animations after watching a really short 5-minute tutorial. This is amazing, especially considering the months it took me to learn the commercial animation software that I use! We’re hoping that biologists will use Molecular Flipbook to animate their own hypotheses to better wrap their heads around the complex processes they study, and to use these animations in their presentations and publications.  We’re also launching an online database in April that will allow biologists to share the models they create, allowing other researchers to tweak these animations to really reflect their own hypotheses.

Blue Moon Waltz: TED2014 Senior Fellow Usman Riaz shares his latest work

Since he first transfixed audiences at TEDGlobal 2012 with his percussive guitar, Usman Riaz, now a TED2014 Senior Fellow, has been busy making short films, composing, and commencing studies at the Berklee College of Music, a dream come true for the self-taught composer and multiinstrumentalist. Here at TED2014, he shares a lush sample of his most recent work, a composition entitled “Blue Moon Waltz” – Riaz’s first live orchestral experience.

Tell us about this piece. 

The piece is called “Blue Moon Waltz,” and it’s part of a larger orchestral work, in progress. This clip is just a small, five-minute section. The idea for the film came from the Berklee media team, who wanted to work with me on something.We threw around a bunch of ideas. When I said had composed this piece, they helped me find musicians. Most of them are Berklee alumni, and alumni from other nearby music schools. We rehearsed for a few weeks, and then it was recorded in one day.

You’ve written for orchestra before, for your album Circus in the Sky. How is this different?

This was the first time I got to conduct an entire orchestra. I’d worked separately with orchestras before, but only in sections – strings, horn, later combined in the studio. But this is an absolutely live take, recorded in one of the Boston theatres. It was a thrill.

 Can you tell us what the music is about?

It’s about two people waltzing in the sky. Once you hear it, you’ll be able to picture it.

To learn more about Usman and his work, visit the TED Blog >>>

Usman Riaz performing at the TED2014 Fellows Talks. Photo: Ryan Lash

Usman Riaz performing at the TED2014 Fellows Talks. Photo: Ryan Lash

In the belly of the beast: a close-up view of Shih Chieh Huang’s TED2014 sculpture

Taiwanese-born artist Shih Chieh Huang animates ordinary household materials, transforming them into magical, living, breathing creatures. Huang demonstrated one of his sculptures at the end of Session 2 at the TED2014 Fellows talks. Here, he tells us a bit about what inspires him. And for those of you who missed the Fellows talks, or if you were there and would like a closer look, watch this video – taken during the installation process – to enjoy the sights and sounds from the underbelly of Huang’s creation.

What inspired this piece? 

I did a research at Smithsonian Natural History Museum studying bioluminescent organisms in the ocean. I was looking at how the movement and some of the light patterns these creatures use in their environment to survive — and that inspired some of the movements of these pieces. When you go down to the deep ocean, everything is slow motion.

What is this piece made of?

The entire piece is made from household materials — Tupperware containers, plastic bottles, highlighter fluid, and lots of desktop computer cooling fans. All the movement of the piece and inflation of the tentacles is controlled by the fans, controlled by a micro-SD chip embedded inside.

Where did you study art?

I studied art in the School of Visual Arts in New York. I wasn’t in the computer arts department: I actually snuck into computer arts department, pretending I was a student there to learn some of the physical computing. But a lot of the electronics were tested in the studio to see what worked and didn’t.

Do you just lie awake at night thinking these things up?

Sometimes. I have insomnia a little bit. I can really only sleep on some type of petrol-engine vehicle. On a bus, on a boat. When it’s very quiet, it’s hard to sleep. Or just in regular rooms.

You think this is where your art originates?

Sometimes. Because sometimes at nighttime, I feel like the whole world’s sleeping, and I am more able to get into my own world, in some ways, when it’s dark.

War and life in the Gaza Strip, documented by a female Palestinian photojournalist


Meet TED2014 Fellow Eman Mohammed who was born in Saudi Arabia and educated in Gaza City, Palestine, where she started her photojournalism career at the age of nineteen.

Her work focuses on documenting the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, including invocations and wars that frequently occur in the area, and the formation of armed militant groups in the strip.

She’ll be joining 21other outstanding innovators as part of the TED Fellows program at the TED2014 Conference. Explore the entire class of TED2014 Fellows, and learn more about Eman’s work, and see her striking images at www.emanmohammed.com.

Seamlessly integrating wearable interfaces with the body


Meet TED2014 Fellow David Sengeh, a doctoral student at the MIT Media Lab working to improve the comfort and affordability of prosthetic limbs. His research in the Biomechatronics Group at MIT focuses on the design of comfortable prosthetic sockets and wearable interfaces. David’s hope is that one day prosthetics, and other wearable interfaces, will integrate seamlessly with the body. He is also the President and co-founder of Global Minimum Inc. (GMin), an international NGO that has distributed over 15,000 mosquito nets in Sierra Leone.

Learn more about David’s work helping amputees in this CNN interview.

Or watch this vignette by CNN:

Why become a TED Fellow?

Wondering why you should apply to be a TED Fellow? Get an insider’s view with MyFellowsStory. Today, tomorrow, and Wednesday we’ll feature Fellows that will tell you what the program has done for them, the lasting relationships they’ve formed and those serendipitous moments that make all the difference.

MyFellowsStory :: Taghi Amirani


Iranian physicist turned filmmaker
TED2010 Senior Fellow
Amirani Media
Learn more about Taghi’s work here.

Coup 53 is “The true story of Operation Ajax, the coup d’état staged by America and Britain in Iran in 1953 that overthrew the democratically elected government of Prime Minister Mossadegh and reinstalled the Shah.”

Describe your work in 6 words (or less):
East meeting west through political cinema.

Describe one relationship you’ve made because of the Fellows program:
Too many amazing connections to pick one; the most precious is with some of the Fellows from my class of 2009 and the TED Fellowship team itself.

How is your life different today because of the program?:
Access to people and places that have made a huge difference to my work.

Describe the program in three words:
Connections connections connections

Most surreal TED conference moment?:
The whole TED thing is surreal. You step into a bubble. Winning the TED Fellows Hero Award tops the surreal moment list.

Why would you recommend the program?:
If TED enters your life at the right moment in your career, and you are prepared and willing to work at it, then it can have a significant impact on your work and life. As long as you remember it is just a conference, and as such, a microcosm of the real world.

Application tip?:
Be yourself and be true to yourself.


MyFellowsStory :: Anita Doron


Avalanche Films + Mashina Arts
Learn more about Anita’s work here.

The Lesser Blessed Official Trailer from Gen One Films on Vimeo.

Describe your work in 6 words (or less):
I make people feel through stories.

Describe one relationship you’ve made because of the Fellows program:
J. Adam Huggins, a fellow Fellow and I were connected by the Fellowship team for having similar creative sensibilities in our work. Well, we discovered that those sensibilities spilled into every aspect of our lives and we became inseparable, living a semi-nomadic, joyfully uncertain life while creating, writing and co-organizing a TEDx conference in Brazil. Our greatest collaboration is Tian Huggins, a small human being of two years.

How is your life different today because of the program?:
No longer an armchair warrior, I’ve unlearned, absolved cynicism and came to see an absolute possibility and need to instigate massive shift.

Describe the program in three words:
Surpass your potential.

Most surreal TED conference moment?:
Spontaneously drawing a two-headed monster with architect Mitchell Joachim and musician Susie Ibarra while our hands were intertwined and then dancing with the incredible Saeed Taji Farouky and Daniel Zoughbie, forming three degrees of Shleparation, as Saeed coined it, a full Jewish / Palestinian spectrum.

Why would you recommend the program?:
If you have a deep desire to change the world and you no longer want to be inhibited by your own, misperceived limitations, become a TED Fellow.

Application tip?:
It is better to show your passionate, lunatic side than keeping it sensible.

Kandidaturen voor TED2014 kunnen nu worden ingediend!

Oproep aan alle innovatoren! Het TED Fellows-programma is op zoek naar JOU! De zoektocht naar de volgende lichting TED Fellows is begonnen. We zijn op zoek naar 20 uitstekende innovatoren uit de hele wereld – techies, ondernemers, kunstenaars, wetenschappers, bloggers, filmmakers, muzikanten, activisten en meer.


Stel je vandaag kandidaat op www.ted.com/fellows/apply

Je kan je kandidatuur stellen tot 21 juni 2013

De Fellows vervoegen de TED-gemeenschap in Vancouver, BC, Canada, voor TED2014, van 17 tot 21 maart 2014, waar ze de volwaardig zullen deelnemen aan de conferentie, voorafgegaan door een driedaagse Fellows-conferentie met waardevolle workshops voor het ontwikkelen van vaardigheden en met gelegenheid om voor de TED-gemeenschap een korte talk te geven, die in aanmerking komt voor TED.com.



Over het TED Fellows-programma


Het TED Fellows-programma erkent het werk van uitzonderlijke iconoclastische individuen met wereldveranderende ideeën. Het geeft hen de middelen om de kracht van hun visie te versterken. TED selecteert elk jaar een groep van 40 Fellows en nodigt hen uit voor een afzonderlijke Fellows-conferentie gekoppeld aan TED of TEDGlobal. De Fellows-conferentie biedt cursussen voor het ontwikkelen van vaardigheden en de kans om hun werk aan de TED-gemeenschap voor te stellen in een podiumpresentatie die gefilmd wordt en in aanmerking komt voor TED.com. Op het einde van het fellowship-jaar selecteert TED tien Fellows die deelnemen aan een verlengd tweejarig Senior Fellowship dat hen naar vijf opeenvolgende conferenties brengt.


TED richt zich vooral op het aantrekken van kandidaten die leven of werken in vijf delen van de wereld: de regio Azië-Pacific, Afrika, de Caraïben, Latijns-Amerika en het Midden-Oosten, maar kandidaten uit de hele wereld komen in aanmerking. TED zoekt opmerkelijke denkers en doeners die blijk hebben gegeven van ongewone verwezenlijkingen, uitzonderlijke moed, morele verbeelding en het potentieel om positieve verandering tot stand te brengen in hun domein – onder meer in technologie, amusement,

design, wetenschappen, film, kunst, muziek, ondernemerschap en de ngo-gemeenschap, naast andere domeinen.


In het kader van het fellowship vervoegen de Fellows de TED-gemeenschap in Vancouver, BC, Canada, voor TED2014, van 17 tot 21 maart 2014, waar ze de volwaardig zullen deelnemen aan de conferentie, voorafgegaan door een driedaagse Fellows-conferentie met waardevolle workshops voor het ontwikkelen van vaardigheden en met gelegenheid voor de TED-gemeenschap om een korte talk te geven, die in aanmerking komt voor TED.com.


Meer inlichtingen:

Surf naar: www.ted.com/fellows

Volg: @tedfellow

Bekijk: www.youtube.com/user/TEDFellowsTalks

Word lid: www.facebook.com/TEDFellow

Lees: fellowsblog.ted.com