TEDxAthens was a refreshing event taking place in a Greece of crisis, unemployment and social upheavals, reports Nikos Anagnostakis from Athens for Reinventing Greece. The theme of this year’s TEDxAthens [see our earlier Reinventing Greece interview] event was the “Art of Disruption.”  In the organizers words:

From Wikipedia and Twitter to Molecular Cuisine and the Tsunamis, our world is full of disruptions which redefine on a daily basis the way we live… From finance and business, to society overall and our little daily habits, there is the belief that creative and at the same time subversive ideas and initiatives have the potential to… transform our world. We can’t achieve substantial changes by continuing to function the same way as before.

It is now the time to rewrite the “rules of the game” and change. Everything.

A fascinating array of speakers from different fields of art, education and academia, business and sports gathered at the “Theatron” of the Hellenic Cosmos Cultural Center to share their experience and ideas on “Disruption” with the audience and online viewers. I spoke with curators Dimitris Kalavros-Gousiou and Abraham Tsoukalidis after the event.

“We believe that working productively in a team is the real disruptive message for Greek society at this moment.”

 Dimitris Kalavros-Gousiou

Dimitris Kalavros-Gousiou

“At TEDxAthens, we believe that working productively in a team is the real disruptive message for Greek society at this moment, when the crisis is challenging our long-held beliefs. Greeks can be very creative and innovative individually, but we believe that working together for a common goal is an idea worth spreading!” said Kalavros-Gousiou. “At the same time, we believe that Greek people have a lot to offer in our global discussion on how to address the global challenges our generation is facing: widening inequality, climate change, depletion of natural resources, rising global poverty, immigration and our common right to a brighter future.”

“It is usually in crisis conditions that individual initiatives emerge to meet public challenges.”

As they pointed out, Burmese politician and Nobel Prize Peace winner Aung San Suu Kyi has said, “It is usually in crisis conditions that individual initiatives emerge to meet public challenges.”

 Abraham Tsoukalidis

Abraham Tsoukalidis

“These global problems demand global solutions that have to be innovative,” continued Tsoukalidis. “They can come from any area of human knowledge and can only succeed if we jointly and passionately work on them. TEDxAthens is trying to share with the Greek public the ideas and magic of TED and at the same time keep the discussion open with the global TEDx community.”

Some of the speakers at the event were particularly inspiring for me and fellow attendees with whom I spoke.

“…the most subversive and innovative businesses can be created in a period of crisis…”

Juliano Tubino

Juliano Tubino

Juliano Tubino gave a rather encouraging speech, particularly for Greece, as the country addresses its economic crisis. Tubino said that the most subversive and innovative businesses can be created in a period of crisis. There is no formula for how someone can succeed, so failure is an essential ingredient of success. If we do not accept diversity, we cannot succeed.

Rory Sutherland

Rory Sutherland

Rory Sutherland, the head of the advertising company Ogilvy One talked about crisis and the problems created from it and pointed out that we must take into account three factors simultaneously for their confrontation: economy, psychology and technology.

Konstantinos Daskalakis

Konstantinos Daskalakis

In his discussion, assistant professor at MIT, Konstantinos Daskalakis, who connected and associated computer science with economy and the “market’s invisible hand”, arrived at the conclusion that the economic system can never be balanced and that existing theories are unable to interpret today’s complicated system.

Chris Colwell

Chris Colwell

Chris Colwell reminded the audience that if people realize the power of their own responsibility, they can change the world for the better. By overcoming fear, we reach the impossible, said Colwell, and this is the Disruption. He concluded by saying that where there is no hope, there is no solution.

“If we reconstruct education, we can change the world.”

Ricardo Sousa

Ricardo Sousa

Nineteen-year old Ricardo Sousa, has set a lifetime goal to change the Portuguese educational system. If we reconstruct education, he argued, we can change the world.

Charis Tsevis

Charis Tsevis

Greek designer Charis Tsevis, who has become famous for his digital mosaics depicting Apple founder, Steve Jobs pointed out that internet and social media constitute the new “vessel” which connects productive people with the international markets, but concluded that the object is not success but happiness.

“…Social media tools bring down the traditional power systems, [and] diffuse the political power back to the social base, creating troops of Davids.”

Joe Trippi

Joe Trippi

Joe Trippi, a distinguished communications specialist, explained that social media tools bring down the traditional power systems, as they diffuse the political power back to the social base, creating troops of Davids. If a Goliath stops listening to the Davids out there, he will be left out of the system, Trippi explained, implying this as the case of Greece.

Nicholas Mavridis

Nicholas Mavridis

The audience was also impressed by the presentation from Nikolaos Mavridis, assistant professor of computer engineering at New York University, Abu Dhabi and founder and director of the Interactive Robots and Media Lab at the United Arab Emirates University. Dr. Mavridis dreamt of and works for the collaboration of people and machines through an incorporated computing cloud, which will be assisted by the people and will extend by far the existing possibilities of calculation and observation. Of course, he admitted that this can give rise to moral and legal issues, but as he said if we make sure that there is a balance in the architecture of the basis then we can reach to an individual or a holistic self-realization. He concluded by raising the dilemma of whether we would like to live in such a world.

“…the disruption of the current situation – of the economic crisis we are all a part of – will happen through individual actions that will have a significant effect on the collective.”

In my opinion, TEDxAthens was a refreshing event taking place in a Greece of crisis, unemployment and social upheavals. It taught us that the disruption of the current situation – of the economic crisis we are all a part of – will happen through individual actions that will have a significant effect on the collective. The dynamics in Greece, which we grew used to, are now changing. We must be prepared for the new conditions that are coming, and play a part in determining what they will be.

“We, the team of TEDxAthens, as proud members of the TED Community, also believe passionately that it is very important, critical and also vital for our society, in Greece, to spread ideas that could change people’s perspective and lead to a deductive reasoning, ideas that could lead to small or great innovations and could change the country’s status quo,” concluded Dimitris Kalavros-Gousiou. “With actions not only at the day of the conference but also during the year, we want to be an active part of our society and help people stimulate dialogue and amplify the impact of any remarkable project, activity or initiative.”

The bottom line is that despite the recession, which has already become international, each one of us can channel all his forces, focus on her own dream and make it an attainable goal in life, thus reversing – disrupting — the previous situation. And we can change the current political and financial situation for the benefit of the people. YES WE CAN!

To view the TEDxAthens 2011 presentations, visit: http://blog.tedxathens.com/

 

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