TED comes to Ireland

28 May 2009

TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) is famous for its inspirational talks by respected academics, talented individuals and those who have a unique vision to show to the world. When the TED Conferences began in 1984 as an annual event held in the US, there was no way of knowing how popular it would become, with TED Talks providing online viewers with access to over 400 talks and figures as diverse as Al Gore, Tracy Chapman and Tim Berners-Lee.

With the TEDx series of independent spin-off events, the same spirit of spreading exciting and inspirational ideas will now arrive in Dublin on 12 June in Trinity College Dublin’s Science Gallery.

The TEDx Dublin event will be the fourth such event in Europe to date. The first confirmed speaker is Blaise Aguera y Arcas, the man behind Microsoft Live Lab’s Photosynth technology, which allows users to create 3D, 360-degree images from a series of their own snapshots.

The second confirmed speaker is a researcher from University College Dublin (UCD), Dr Scott Rickard who will be speaking about his research into source signal separation or the cocktail-party effect. Rickard is also co-founder of science education site Science With Me and co-creator of UCD’s autonomous robot design competition Roborugby.

The whole TEDxDublin idea came about from a few tweets, said primary organiser Dr Aaron Quigley of UCD: “This was followed by some interesting replies and then by some serendipitous moments of discussion with colleagues here in UCD, in the NDRC (National Digital Research centre) and Trinity College Dublin.”

According to Quigley, a liberal helping of Twitter and a pinch of serendipity helped the whole event come together: “I tweeted about the idea first and I’m driving it, but it’s very much a group effort. One of the interaction designers I hired to work in TRIL – Ben Arent – saw my tweet and suggested the Science Gallery as a venue. They saw his tweet and got in touch.”

So, after many emails, schedule checks and official TED approval, the TEDxDublin Facebook group was set up and gained over 90 fans in a space of 12 hours.

With so many speakers from so many backgrounds across technology, entertainment and design, Quigley said that one of his favourites is the Erin McKean talk on redefining the dictionary: “If you can make a dictionary fun, you are impressing me!”

Another favourite is the famous 2006 Jeff Han talk on advanced touchscreen technology: “This talk helped inspired me to work with one of my students on ‘Augmented Reality Documents’.”

The TEDxDublin event on 12 June will be held at the Science Gallery. Check the event’s Facebook page for details on ticketing and capacity.

By Marie Boran