Sunday, December 6, 2009

My TEDxManila experience, and 3 things I've learned

Social business, environment, and education topics were the recurring themes in the Philippines' first ever TEDx event held in the Malcolm Hall of the University of the Philippines last Dec 5.

TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) is a nonprofit devoted to "Ideas Worth Spreading." While originally starting as a conference focusing on Technology, Entertainment, and Design, its scope has gradually increased to cover more topics like science, arts, politics, education, culture, business, global issues, technology and development (wikipedia). TEDx stands for an independently organized TED event.

Roughly 200 people from the academe, industry and civil sectors attended the event.

Tony Oposa talked about the environment, and the misconception of consumption and extraction (of the Earth's natural resources, to a point it exceeds the rate of replenishment) being used to gauge a country's progress. He advocates for a change to CPR economics - Conservation, Preservation and Restoration.

Mark Ruiz shared his idea of social business, specifically his work in Hapinoy and how it has been improving the lives of small sari-sari stores in the country. Illac Diaz illustrated his many ideas of using locally available materials to build sustainable and durable housing materials for people. More than being reactive to natural disasters Illac maintains that we should be proactively preparing for these. His way is by building these durable houses and empowering the locals to build them on their own.

Graham Glass emulates the Swedish system of knowledge schools in his educational venture called Edu2.0 and shares his vision of the future of education. Edu2.0 is an online learning management system offered free to schools. This enables students to learn at their own pace and in the comfort of their own homes. Glass believes that adventure learning leveraging games would be big in the near future. Mel Tan shared the progress of the government's elearning initiative eSkwela. Since 2007, 2500 learners have benefited from the program.

TED videos shown during the event included William Kamkwamba's brilliant innovativeness in building a windmill for his community using only materials found from the scrapyard and a few books. Pranav Mistry stunned the audience with his revolutionary SixthSense technology, a technology that brings the digital world into the physical world.

What did I learn from Ted?
1. The alternative view that an economy based on extraction and consumption is wrong. Primarily because this is not sustainable. As Tony Oposa illustrated, the Earth is like an inheritance of money from our forefathers. We should use only the interest and not eat up the capital. But at the rate we're using the Earth now, there would be no capital left for the next few generations. Global warming is the accumulated consequences of what we've done so far.

2. The right mindset in battling natural disasters should be prevention through proactive methods. Focus on the high-risk areas, but utilize cheaper alternatives so it can be reapplied faster. Social business can play a part in making this happen.

3. There are many things that can be done in life, we've got to go ahead and try them.

A small cocktail outside the Malcolm Hall after the event - This is where conversations happened.

Illac Diaz is a genius. Loved talking to him after TEDx. How he cools and lights his house is amazing!
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