Regina Saphier: Really Big Understanding with Larry Page

Larry Page (co-founder and CEO of Google Inc.) lost his voice due to a viral infection that attacks his thyroid. His left vocal cord paralyzed after he first got ill, and his right vocal cord was paralyzed in 2012. The vocal cords pass the thyroid so his voice loss is almost certainly related to his Hashimoto thyroiditis, but his doctors keep telling him, that the cause of his problem is unknown and there is no cure. (I might add, that in my opinion he got ill after contracting mononucleosis 14 years ago… mono is very common in the US among young people… the virus that causes it remains dormant in nerve tissue, causes the thyroid to slow down, due to inflammation, reduces energy, and can later in life cause severe health issues, including different types of cancers… but he did not mention that in his public statements… I don’t know if he knows how dangerous that type of virus is… especially in people with a particular genetic configuration…)

Ted 2014 Conference, Vancouver Convention Cent...

TED2014 Conference Venue (Photo: L. Lawreszuk)

Imagine if such a smart and rich person is unable to find help and sufficient information in one of the most developed countries, sitting on top of unimaginable amounts of google data: What happens to you and me when an illness disables us… especially in a less developed nation, with a terrible healthcare system and extreme stress day by day…? We are so fragile, even the strongest and healthiest among us can unexpectedly become ill and families suffer! It would definitely help all of us if our anonymous medical records were globally available to the medical community and citizen scientists to find the cause and the cure for our illnesses. Imagine your public data being analysed, compared, and imagine having a medical social network where one day your solution would pop up based on big data, global analysis and (as Richard Saul Wurman, founder of TED likes to say) “big understanding” …

I would definitely join this movement, if the tools were in place. If we all share, we all gain something that has never been seen before. Not only could this help you get healthy, but it could help you prevent illness. Imagine this on a global scale! From tragic events that happen to rich, famous and smart people come amazing changes. I hope he will find his solution for his medical issue and live a long, healthy, satisfied and productive life. I hope this story brings health to millions or even to billions of people globally. Here is his latest public appearance, at TED 2014 in Vancouver, BC, Canada a few days ago. I was fortunate enough to watch live:

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Regina Saphier: The United States of China (Part 2)

Regina Saphier: The United States of China (Part 2)


After Eric X. Li’s TED talk was published, My TED Blog views hit an all time high globally, especially in the US. In addition, a few days after the talk was published, Richard Saul Wurman (the creator of TED) was kind enough to repeatedly post my blog link on his facebook wall and I wrote some extra material in response to two comments by his friends. Here are my comment responses, edited for my blog (remember, these paragraphs below were written by me in response to two comments, so some parts might appear to be out of place, but I did not want to fragment the text by removing those bits):

My comment response #1.: In part I wrote my essay because I noticed the enthusiastically applauding TED audience after EXL’s talk live and I realized that probably not many there witnessed the collapse of a dictatorship from the inside (especially not the collapse of an enormous system of multiple dictatorships under a mega oppressor in the form of the USSR) and not many at TED Global experienced the painful, deep and long lasting social and economic scars such a pathologically delusional system leaves behind. (Even most of those people living in these former socialist and communist countries don’t realize the trauma, the massive PTSD, because of the lack of cultural comparison and due to lack of information.) Hungary (a former “Satellite State”) and the “Eastern Bloc” countries still, after twenty years struggle with those unresolved issues and those issues are not going to be over for a long time.

Of course you should question anything that comes out of China in the suspiciously eloquent form of a propaganda talk or in the form of a superhumanly optimistic survey analysis of growing wellbeing in a developing country. (More in my next comment below.)

My comment response #2.: Anyone can show enormous growth at that scale with really low cost of labor when not having any regard for nature and individual needs, when the only target is growth. However, it is not a sustainable rate of growth, not a sustainable way of development in China. Imagine the income inequality that characterizes less than 6 000 USD GNI per year per capita among over a billion citizens, especially if you consider that the US is criticized for the shocking income inequality in the 50 000 USD GNI per year per capita range among “only” a few hundred million citizens. Are you able to grasp the difference in terms of quality of life? The two systems are not to be compared. One is a developed and established economy, the other is a fragile developing country. Still, both can be criticized endlessly in their own leagues. China at this point is a huge bubble waiting to burst. Naturally: larger, more established and more sustainable economies can not grow at China’s rate. Plus: don’t forget the economic casualties in other countries, the lost jobs, the lost income, the lost social status, the poverty that was created (among other things) by the unfair competition at irrationally low labor costs in China and by the insane target of forever growing consumption globally. In addition, imagine what is going to happen to the Chinese labor force when AI technology makes them completely obsolete in the future. The World is one interdependent system and China’s government has no regard for that, while other countries are also only learning to understand what all this means. If you look at this complex image and if you have some insight and even the ability to maintain the outsider position, it is surreal how EXL was able to lead the attending, highly educated, intellectually and financially influential TED audience by their noses. On top of this EXL also believes what he says. To me he is just another believer in the wrong thing because it appears to work for him. He is a skilled conformist. In a way he is the “other” you should take to lunch to have a conversation about differences in world views. But can you have an open and real dialog with someone who does not believe in freedom for his own countryman?

My comment response #2 continued: Before 1989 I could not travel freely. It was really hard and complicated to get out of Hungary (I could only travel to the US in 1981 as a child with my parents because my father’s sister lived there and she invited us… and because the Hungarian authoritarian regime, on the western edge of the “Eastern Bloc” started to slowly fall apart and a few years later it disintegrated completely, along with the rest of the sick system). After 1989 I was able to attend French school in Villefrance-sur-Mer for example in the nineties, on the hill, right behind you on your facebook profile picture (I recognized the view immediately when I looked at your profile). Later, when I did not have to use a passport on the border traveling from Hungary to Austria… well, I will never forget this new feeling of being a citizen of the EU. Since joining the EU in 2004, Hungary is going downhill economically, but this is not caused by the EU membership. It is caused by the “post-system change syndrome” or “PSCS” as I call it (before and after 1989: people faced very different expectations, but the people on the cellular level and so their attitudes remained the same). Leaders of old EU member states don’t recognize the need to help nations with this national PTSD. If you think about it, an individual with PTSD needs help and can not be forced to perform like people without PTSD. An individual with PTSD is also highly likely to pass on genetic susceptibility to PTSD to the fetus, this is scientific fact since 9/11. Imagine that on a national scale after decades of trauma! This in my humble opinion is a huge problem. Decades of social, psychological and so physiological and in turn biological trauma revealing itself today, and preventing adequate present day adaptation and development on a national scale. Hungarians were part of a closed and planned, surreal “1984” kind of system until 1989. Even most of their children don’t possess the appropriate skills today to navigate the high waves of an open market in the middle of a global economic crisis and during an era of transition in so many arenas of an increasingly globalized, online and mobile life.

When the Hungarian government now turns east, it is because the turning west did not work out for the political “elite” here. It is due to lack of appropriate communications and understanding between the western and the eastern elites, but not the way EXL wants you to believe. Just look at citizens in Germany, so close to each other (not apart like the US and China). People in the eastern part are very different from the people in western Germany. Decades of epigenetic changes due to a long era of suffering, fear, stress, anxiety and lack of resources and lack of freedom don’t disappear from one day to the other. At least two generations have to go before people in Germany start to look similar and indistinguishable again. I am not saying that people in the US and in China must be similar, diversity is important, but in fact many people in China are more and more americanized already and perhaps this is not what those people need.

When I look at my blog statistics, I see the map of the world… I see readers from everywhere. Views of My TED Blog went up by +9,012.50% last week after people watched Li’s talks and read my critical post. Still, there were no readers from China (for obvious reasons). I want that to change.

Dictatorships not only brainwash and isolate people, they also distort people on the cellular level for generations. That is a crime against humanity. Outsiders and even privileged insiders usually “somehow” fail to see that. Change makers in these countries are mostly regarded as strange and are powerfully hindered by the conformist masses and by the rotten status quo even after the dictators are long gone. Anyone who understands this should advocate for appropriate social and political change in China, but not necessarily for the kind that was made in America.

And if you would like to understand how Americans were brainwashed into consumerism during the last century (and at the same time into paradoxical impulse suppression) watch the fantastic BBC documentary: “The Century of the Self“. I wrote about this brilliant documentary in 2009 (in Hungarian, on my first blog). This kind of PR based consumer brainwashing is already happening in China. It also happened in Hungary and it did a lot of harm.


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Regina Saphier TED Long Beach 2013 Day 1

Let me start with the good news that Richard Saul Wurman is attending TED Long Beach this year. He wrote via facebook chat on February 13.: “surprise I’m going to TED”.  I am so glad that the differences between Chris and Richard are no longer dominating their professional relationship. I responded: “Go and enjoy. Its really your amazing kid all grown up and successful. Your gifted brainchild.” And indeed, we should keep in mind respectfully, that RSW is the father of TED.

Well, the stream during the first session was terrible. After we figured out via the stream chat that some have super quality, some have constant buffering, I wrote: “I know it is on auto, I am just imagining people in less developed countries… apparently TED tech people are now under the spell of the ‘progress enigma’ for every nation at the same time (not having diverse insight into global differences and not having an oversight of the spectrum of progress is a problem)…” Ironically, ‘progress enigma’ was the main topic of the first session. I also wrote on the chat: “I would be really angry now if I had to pay for this… the archive option also helps a lot to keep calm… but this buffering situation is destroying my live blogging process and timetable for the 4 days.” At this point I went to the tech chat and posted my issues with all other people with terrible streaming issues… there I was informed that this time, because of the new player the auto setting can not be changed to manual… so the tech people will lower the general speed for the next session… And now you can imagine why I could only take fragmented notes… Most of the time the stream was buffering… and no, it was not my computer. I give you what I can… hope to have more in the next session. (In the second session the stream was better but the picture was smaller. Most of the issues were fixed for day 4, but I am unable to say that it was perfect. In fact the stream quality was all too frustrating for days…)

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

11:00 – 12:45

Session 1: Progress Enigma

Her big idea is supposed to be an energy policy for the US. Right… what took you so long as a developed nation? And still just an idea?

There is growth… in the past… Robert is worried about joblessness in a robotic environment. He also says: let in people (stop the madness of visas in the US) and legalize drugs (to stop the drug war). So, from conservative he suddenly turns progressive liberal… (My live stream coming and going…)

Growth is not dead. Productivity in the US and globally is at an all time high. Lots of free stuff. Robots are taking over. The problem is  not with technology, the problem is that we are not sharing the outcome… the wealth… the knowledge… the opportunity…

We see an advanced factory robot that is supposed to help factory workers, not replace them. Similarly, caregiver robots are coming… Robots have no gender…

Robots should be personal. (Again my live stream is fragmented.)

I am going to have a look at the archive because the stream stopped all the time during this talk…

  • Bono
  • Musician, activist

Saving the world… one rock star at a time…

2:15 – 4:00

Session 2: Beautiful Imperfection

He decided to teach a course on ignorance. I know this is a favorite topic of Richard Saul Wurman. How can we distinguish the smell of a banana and a pear when the difference is only one carbon atom in a molecule that carries the odor … our brain is a brilliant chemical detector. Testing methods are bad at schools and you get what you test for. So if you are having a bulimic method of education feeding huge amounts of data to your students and testing it… that is not intellectual learning and not productive in scientific terms. Science changes with every funeral… (I add: as does society).

How to trick the giant squid … and make a photo of it. Really funny video follows showing the giant squid. We need a NASA like organization for marine research.

Camille Seaman gives a short audience talk about us being one with nature. She is a storm photographer and shows us marvelous images of clouds.

His photographs are epic. He shows how he reforested his family estate with 2.5 million trees.

Another speaker from my alma mater, Columbia University, speaking about cities that are living systems. Open source urbanism for the user living in the city… instead of engineered high tech cities that are alienating and sterile.

The Long Beach gift bag is introduced with a few words before the next TED attraction enters the TED stage… I feel: that is the ugliest bag I have ever seen. Brown. Boring.

He is playing with his own voice, with and without technology and making music.

He embraced his limitations (a nerve damage initially caused by his pointillist art and a creative block later when he had too many choices) and created: inside the box! He painted on his body layer by layer, he created art that he immediately destroyed, he created art influenced by others, he painted martial arts style… I have to say Phil was the most authentic, most down to earth, most relaxed person on the TED stage until this point. Good for him!

5:00 – 6:45

Session 3: The Spark

Let kids take ownership of their education. He knows how to do that as a successful educator. High expectation… if you are smart that is only a good start for hard work… Building community and groups… trust… how to explain concepts with clarity. It takes researchers to produce researchers. Let them learn in labs regularly… You need faculty to get involved with students. Connecting… Redesigning courses so that students are not bored in classes. Use technology… Freeman is a passionate educator. 🙂 Excellence is never an accident. Choice and not chance determines excellence.

She says: do focus on your twenties, the most defining years of your life. The most significant decisions are made by 35. Fertility peaks at 28. Get identity capital, do something … invest into the person you want to be. Explore work. Find like minded people. Reach out to your friends’ connections. Mindfully select your partner for life. (One way of living… but not for everyone.)

What a wonderful person she is!!!! 🙂 Lisa told us her inspirational story of redefining her dream by comparatively reading books.

How to invent a security system to save livestock by using materials at hand in your village in an African country… while still being a boy…

Sir Ken Robinson presenting this years TED Prize Winner. He says an awful amount of education is going on with a terribly low amount of learning and that has to change.


The winner is: Sugata Mitra! I love his work!!!! He says the Victorian era education system is outdated (yes) and a new one is needed (yes). He now has one million dollars to realize his paradigm shifting plans for appropriate education. He says his rich friends kept saying that their kids are gifted because they can do wonderful things with their computers. So, he jokingly asked himself, how come all the rich kids are “gifted”… he decided to give computers to kids in slums and watched what happened (Hole in the wall experiment). And as we in education research know, the kids started to teach each other language and IT skills and even genetics. Encouragement is the key. Punishments and examinations shut down the brain! Educational self organization… let the learning happen. Self Organized Learning Environment: SOLE… His wish is to design the new future of learning together. The school in the cloud… (I am so glad that I see the change in education during my lifetime.)

I came back after two months, and the 26 children marched in looking very, very quiet. I said, “Well, did you look at any of the stuff?” They said, “Yes, we did.” “Did you understand anything?” “No, nothing.” So I said, “Well, how long did you practice on it before you decided you understood nothing?” They said, “We look at it every day.” So I said, “For two months, you were looking at stuff you didn’t understand?” So a 12 year-old girl raises her hand and says, literally, “Apart from the fact that improper replication of the DNA molecule causes genetic disease, we’ve understood nothing else.”” (Sugata Mitra at TED)

Here is an interesting and popular fact: “The Hole in the Wall experiment left a mark on popular culture. Indian diplomat Vikas Swarup read about Mitra’s experiment and was inspired to write his debut novel Q & A, which later became the movie Slumdog Millionaire.”(wikipedia)

Here is my relevant TED conversation comment from two years ago. (I really don’t understand where this previous line disappeared since I posted this blog after the first day… now I am posting it again without the comment hyper-link to TED and cut and paste my actual comment from two years ago…:)

“Feb 19 2011: Jane! Hi! I am not a gamer. I am an online idea generator. When I listened to your talk live last year, I knew that I should translate your talk into Hungarian and I am glad I did that ( 🙂 Thank you for the inspiration! I had this idea: Why not create a game that makes people in the developed world responsible for the education of people in the less developed parts of the world. There is now so much content out there for online education for free… I was thinking: Ivy League development, education, etc… students should be inspired by online games … you know, somehow combining education, mentoring, research and gaming… Get your degree as an online gamer by teaching people skills, showing them the world, interacting with them online and seeing results as we play. Learn from each other. Get your university credits with meaningful online games. I even wrote e-mails about that to the TED management, because TED talks would be perfect for this new way ofonline global community graduation” with “gamer organized free educational content” from the web. I imagined getting an experimental PhD in such a way online (on top of my Columbia University MA) from my home in Budapest, Hungary while pulling someone else (living in a less fortunate environment) toward a BA or an MA degree. The game could have an academically meaningful impact beyond the epic win of teaching people skills, languages or science… I am sure many PhD students would be happier with this, instead of being the RA and TA slaves of tenured professors in the US… I could work with a post-doc who is in the US… so that person in the US, me in Hungary, and the person in the Third World: we would get to know each other’s needs and culture too and that with minimal carbon footprint. That could promote global power balance and understanding. This in my opinion would be a meaningful game project. 🙂 Best, Regina Saphier”

LinkedIn update: “Richard Saul Wurman is now a connection”

This is icon for social networking website. Th...

On June 5 Richard Saul Wurman posted my blog note on his facebook wall (helping my blog stats tremendously) and today he is my LinkedIn connection. 🙂 Is the person you are inspired by your LinkedIn connection? Should be! Feels really nice. 🙂 Hope to do good work together.

The Smithsonian National Design “Lifetime Achievement” Award goes to Richard Saul Wurman

Yesterday I got a few notes from Richard Saul Wurman. He made sure I know he got an award that made him really pleased.

Here is my edited letter to him (edited for the public eye):

Congratulations Richard upon your well deserved award! 🙂 “Lifetime Achievement” goes to Richard Saul Wurman. “Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt‘s National Design Awards“… Brilliant! Here is why You deserve it in my opinion:


I am sure you see that when You, Mr. Q Senior, started TED, you started many many possibilities for thousands of people on a global scale, unrelated to their immediate circumstances. You basically redesigned the invisible space between you, me, and people in other nations and on other continents. This is why you deserve every relevant award out there. It is all possible because you had a curious mind, an amazing breadth of view, and a special motivation for redesigning everything that you touch, in a way that it “becomes round” and “starts rolling” (e. g.: ready to roll when posted on the web). Thank you for existing and remaining curious! 🙂 Your embraced ignorance is a universal blessing, and we positively experience the function of your ego the size of The Large Hadron Collider. 🙂 We are happy particles spinning in it, and the energy is shaking up The World. Congratulations! Your “intelligent human design”, your hummingbird mind and your enormous network is the dynamic canvas of a global knowledge revolution.

Thank you for reinforcing your invitation to see your circles in person.

Ms. Q

Regina Saphier: The Wurman Project

When I wrote my last blog post discussing Mr. Wurman’s latest plans for a new kind of conference I did actually think in the back of my mind that he might just read it. So, it was not surprising that he in fact sent me a note via facebook very soon after I published my previous blog note. I was rather surprised by my intuition (even after so many intuitive events, you just never get used to knowing what might happen in your extended reality).

Meanwhile, I also thanked “my” government for having the stupid idea of possibly registering Hungarian bloggers. I never used a pseudonym on any of my blogs, I like to stand up for my opinion, but the idea that I would have to register my blog (that I started on a Hungarian server years ago) made me angry and I quickly moved my blog to wordpress in 2011 (I also changed my topic, instead of criticizing Hungary’s so called elite and writing critical essays, I started to focus on TED, mainly the major TED conferences). While all “freebloggers” in Hungary look like they do not exist in the world, when you have a WordPress blog, your global visibility changes (plus there is Facebook, if you have no blog but have an opinion). So, this is why I think that our government kind of scored an own goal, because the migration of Hungarian intellectuals from local servers to global ones made them really visible and that lead to even stronger international criticism. I like that. I think moving my blog abroad (to the US), changing the topic (to TED) and the language (to English) was the best idea (earlier I wrote in Hungarian and in English and about many different topics). I now have a global readership in English (earlier I had an international readership, mostly Hungarians knowing me due to my civic advocacy and media appearances).

But back to the Wurman Project.  I must tell you this: Richard Saul Wurman congratulated me and wrote that my blog is accurate. 🙂 After RSW expressed that he wishes to talk about my blog we got in touch via skype/phone. When the chat was over, I wrote this on my facebook wall: “I had a long phone chat with Richard Saul Wurman, father of TED, and I am happy. 🙂 Will be writing about the conversation on myTEDblog as soon as my blog note is completed. Do you know the feeling when a brilliant person e-mails you that he likes your blog (about the very phenomenon that his mind created) and wants to update you regarding some nuances? I have that feeling. :-)”

I am not the kind of person who idolizes people, but I am very enthusiastic about people who work with good ideas and are pleasantly crazy (I know it looks better from a distance, having that kind of crazy in my genes). He passed my crazy test, so to say. While we talk, I realize that I have an easy situation because he is in many ways like my talented father, so I feel like I have read the “manual”, but Richard is much more cooperative. I have no problem imagining his circumstances and the area he is living in, because I have been to Rhode Island (RI) and Newport, several times…

First, when I was 9, my father took my mother and me to visit his sister, who lived right next door to the Nayatt Point Lighthouse, in Barrington, Rhode Island. I had my first fresh oyster in Newport at age 9 (I did not know at that point that the second huge portion of memorable oysters is waiting for me in Paris, when the twenty something version of me gets invited by a Japanese friend… whom I met a few months earlier in Villefranche-sur-Mer… delicious lunch with a marvelous host in a wonderful Parisian restaurant… fond memories). 1981 was a major year in my life … my first time in the US (and my first time outside of Hungary)… two months on the East Coast, plus Canada… The second time in RI: when I studied at Columbia. The third time in RI: when I visited my childhood friend. I lived in New York for a while as a student, therefore I understand the Wurman couple’s decision that they moved to Rhode Island, and I also see why they would still feel isolated. There is a reason why their home turned into a “time and space gate” in the middle of boring and posh Newport. Just look at the garden… as if space aliens have landed several times on those circles that Richard appears to leave everywhere… like the red carpet on the TED stage… even if the carpet is not his design idea (it could be), it somehow reminds me of The Creator.

Richard has no problem with criticism, he goes ahead and criticizes himself, if you don’t. But if you do, he says that you are right, and explains how right you are. He welcomes opinion and he has his own too. He likes to say that he is rich enough, while he failed at many many things, and yes he is elitist, but it is all about the quality of ideas, and yes he is arrogant as many people keep saying, he says, but he is not taking himself too seriously. He apologizes for not being fluent as a skype user at 77. I keep expressing that humanity will probably forgive a talented man at 77 for not being a daily skype user. He is a completely approachable human by the way… so, I immediately start to run my diagnostic mental scan, and I see my inner list: AD(H)D, mild Asperger’s with high verbal aptitude, and some learning differences. But don’t take my diagnosis too seriously, because I think those terms will very soon be outdated when fMRIs and similar devices will become commonplace. Paper and pencil tests and psychologists magically giving you eclectic cocktails of DSM numbers will be a joke to look back on.

We speak about the TED story, that Chris Anderson banned Richard from the TED conferences after RSW announced that “TED is the greatest twentieth century conference”. Richard speaks highly of Chris’s achievements, but says that he feels it was really unnecessary and disrespectful to lock him out. Finally, we agree that as he put it, this is “a cock-fight”, and he is really tired of such things at his age.

In this video, Chris Anderson promises many things in 2002, as he takes over TED, the for profit creation of Richard Saul Wurman. Chris says, he is going to be “the custodian” of the conference. He refers to the Sapling Foundation, because the TED conference was turned into a non profit project under Chris’s leadership. Chris also mentions the global power the TEDsters in the room have… but little did Chris know about the possible global power of TED as an online phenomenon in the future we today live in. Now, that Chris banned Richard for his remark that TED is the greatest conference of the twentieth century, I have to say, I would not have banned Richard for his remarks, because he is probably talking about his own era. Truth is, for us, who witness the latest TED, even as the TED team is struggling with their own humanness and content, style and structure issues, for us who view these talks live online, it is a twenty first century conference in the making. But I noticed one major thing… when you look at the videos before the takeover, there is this sense of intimacy that I no longer feel in the new era… I think it would be a good idea to try to bring back that kind of intimate atmosphere in at least some of the TED conference sessions.

Richard told me, that he is “no do-gooder”… but man, you have no idea how much good you did with your “hummingbird mind” when you created the TED conference and when you decided to let go of it at the right time. In my humble opinion, the father of TED and the custodian of TED should: get a mediator, work out your differences, and revisit the topic of TED as a global human connector, educator and entertainer online, combined with the latest technologies, tools and possibilities. If Richard is able to admit that he was wrong about the TEDx events and in fact those events turned out to be wonderful, who knows perhaps Chris is able to admit that he was wrong about uninviting Richard from TED (and stop telling people not to fund his new conference).

But, if that is not an option, lets see what RSW is planning behind the scenes of The WWW Conference. TED was about short talks, WWW is about indulging in conversation (about one word titles that start with W) as long as Richard is able to pay attention. Nothing egocentric about that… Right? But the thing is, small egos never created anything singlehandedly in human history. Richard is not about pleasing the audience, he celebrates spontaneity and he feels blessed doing whatever he wants to do “since his mother gave him permission to cross the street by himself at the age of 11”. The sessions will be streamed to several locations (just like TEDMED), translated into 10-12 major languages and there will be B&W subtitles, plus an app with extra content. There is nothing yet that the TED conference could not do for you, because you know that Chris could interview people at any time… but here is a major difference: Flipboard and the synergy of information about the WWW guests and topics. There won’t be any press for the first conference but what about people who might live blog like me? I learn that there is no paid WWW conference team, that Richard is alone (as he was alone initially with TED and look what happened). So, if you wish to join Richard (who says that ignorance is his expertise, because he is aware of his ignorance) and help him build the new kind of synergistic mind meeting, just say so! The WWW Conference is still in the making!

Where the circles live, close to the Ocean:

The Wurman Home on Google Maps

The Wurman Home on Google Maps:

After I congratulated upon his weight loss, I learn that his health is good. He also told me that his wife is not Hungarian, but rather she used to be married to a Hungarian man, and that Gloria and Richard have been to Hungary in 1990, right before our first free election. At the end of our conversation Richard offers me his books via mail and promises to give me a free web stream of The WWW Conference as (and if) it happens. I am able to see that he is promising facts and fiction, but lets hope the fiction becomes reality too.

I don’t know about you, but I like Richard Saul Wurman.

A relevant article in Hungarian from my old and eclectic blog:

Is TED in a content crisis?

For me, for a dyslexic, interested in online education, and not being a native English speaker, it is a nice challenge to live blog each event in English. In fact, after so many events, it is not even a challenge anymore…

My name is Regina Saphier, I am a senior TED blogger and TED talk translator living in Hungary (my native country). A few things about me: I lived in several countries, I graduated from Teachers College of Columbia University and I am dyslexic (as I like to say and shock people: I am unable to read, write and calculate properly, but still graduated from Columbia… imagine what I could do if I could read, write and calculate… if in doubt after my self deprecating line: I write my own blogs and I have no editor… I also write my own translations… and no, I do not have an IT manager, nor do I have a social media editor… I do all this alone as an online one woman show). When there is a major TED event, I am there for every minute online, because I prefer 2×4 TED days per year filled with 2×70 live talks instead of one post production talk every second day (besides not all TED conference talks get published).

I was surprised by my new feeling after the days of TED Long Beach 2012 passed. I mean I really enjoy 4 days of interesting ideas, but I noticed that there was no aha moment for me… no feeling of: this is the only place where I could hear, see, feel this. There was even the feeling that some sessions were awkward, like the dinner party… interesting and less interesting people sitting around a dinner ready table on stage, with nothing to eat. The first presentation was painful to watch in this session, and by a really smart person, Steven Pinker and his partner. It was rigid, rehearsed, unnatural, and very disappointing. If it ever makes it onto the TED site (only the best TED talks make it there), it is because it will be edited beyond recognition, with animations to hide the weakness of the talk (I love RSA animation, but in this case, animation can only be used to save the ideas in the talk). Also, I did not feel the necessity of the real bull on stage in a happy go lucky “interactive” presentation and was hoping for a real antique tapestry on the TED stage when the MET and exhibitions were narrated… no demo there. There were other problems, but in general the event was still enjoyable and interesting. However, after having seen 7 major TED events online (so, several hundred live TED talks, beyond the several hundred recorded TED videos), this was the first time that I had the feeling, the event was not outstanding.

I have the feeling that Chris and his TED team are getting a bit nervous about the competition on a market where they make millions of dollars with the TED conferences, and they are trying to reinvent the content, yet unsuccessfully. By the way, neither the free online videos, nor the live stream was Chris’s idea, in fact he was initially opposed to giving their content away for free (the stream is only free for diligent TED translators). I would like to thank the unknown person who suggested the free stream, and I think it was smart of Chris to support the idea in the end.

(Did you know that after Chris persuaded a group of investors to purchase the TED brand from Wurman for 14 million dollars, later, after the dot com collapse, he negotiated an exit deal with the group and his Sapling Foundation paid only 6 million dollars for the TED brand, in a second hand kind of deal. I am sure, he is not so worried about money… or is he? Ten years ago he has seen his first empire collapsing… that must have been traumatizing.)

I am actually so glad not having to mingle with the tech snobs in those conferences (no matter what you hear from others, I am an introvert and mingling is hard work for me, even if public speaking is something I enjoyed in the past), and it is really comfortable to view the live talks from my living room (I know, there is stream buffering, and I know that people in the theater see it a bit sooner, but that is ok). Now, I should not say all this online, not even as a senior TED talk translator and senior TED conference blogger, because even million dollar donors and even the inventor of the TED idea and brand, Mr. Wurman got uninvited from the TED conference (what a shame, but not unusual for Chris’s TED era), so you can easily get punished at TED when you speak your mind. I know, believe me, I got the silent treatment after I expressed my valid opinion regarding the management of volunteers… I got invited to and uninvited from TED Global in 2010 within a week and it was really not my fault… I am sure non of you would ask your conference guest’s sponsor to send a check to a complete stranger, another TED conference guest (another TED volunteer) living in the US, so that she could wire the money (my sponsor’s money and her own) together to TED in New York… dilettantism of a TED employee to ask something like that and think that she is being helpful. In turn the TED employee acted all hurt when I responded with a clear no and poinTED out that her conduct is unprofessional (I should know, because I have my NGO founder and director experience)… This mistake was never fixed by the TED team… First I was really angry, but later got over it thinking, I really don’t need snobs and ignorance in one package, even if it were offered at a volunteer discount and covered with TED’s world famous intellectual lobster sauce… an idea worth spreading… By the way, that particular telecommuting and flextime dilettante was paid 76 680 USD in 2010, and she is the fifth highest paid independent contractor of the Sapling Foundation. Picture that! Chris and his employees find it hard to deal with valid opinion… and he really only pretends to be egalitarian, extremely nice, or flexible. He is really elitist, selective, and (passive) aggressive… but if you did not spend a lot of time watching him, you would not immediately notice that the humble, kind facade hides a really insecure, driven, and snobbish human, who drinks a lot at TED parties. He is really intelligent in his own way, but he will never in his life be as original, as laid back, and as playful as Wurman is. Chris is the type who is primarily and largely using other people’s ideas to become successful (this is an important talent, indeed, you know, because humans use each others ideas, some more, some less, but we all do), but unfortunately uninvites them from their own invention. This is a sad thing, because Wurman might have been able to help reinvent TED again.

Wurman is the kind of man who says, f’ck you Chris, if you can not deal with my opinion and even publicly reject me as a person, I will create new conferences for my own entertainment and share it with anyone who pays for global simulcast events or for the related smart phone app. And he will! However, most people won’t receive Wurman’s conference content, he will create something super elitist again. Who will pay? The elite, the middle class, and the rest of the world won’t get anything. Chris is about structure within structure, available to anyone (the TED brand contains the restricted format talks that are shared), Wurman is about structure filled with elite improvisation (here is the brand, lets see what happens within, and you can also find out if you have the money).

Meanwhile, the world is getting more and more interested in new ideas, inspiration, role models, but even interactive conferences won’t solve the problems out there. People need to be more involved and global platforms for real life solutions are needed to utilize inspiration and interconnectedness. Chris thinks he wants to change the world (and earn a lot of money). Wurman wants to have intellectual fun (and earn a lot of money).

English: Chris Anderson and Richard Wurman get...

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While the brilliant boys are out fighting, I am thinking about the talks, the top speakers, the ideas, the connection of ideas, the technology that made this possible, and the people who made this technology possible, the diligent and enthusiastic volunteers, the sponsors, the donors, and it is clear, what Richard and Chris are doing for people is wonderful. Let’s hope their egos don’t get in the way. It would be useful if the speakers would also make available their key research articles via TED, for those who wish to go further (like me) but are typically not at US universities right now (many are, but most aren’t) where they are able to read any article for free. Let’s reinvent the TED slogan: inspiring and applicable ideas in depth worth spreading.

Also, we need global action community initiatives where people would be able to act upon their inspiration in cooperation with others. Basic written TED conversations on the TED site are limited and pointless in the long run. Talk talk talk… write, write, write… that alone is not going to take us much further. Actions will. I think supporting The City 2.0 is a good start, but why is it impossible to register on it for a week? How is it possible that a pro NGO with so many technology professionals in its network is unable to introduce a social media integrated partner website that actually works by the time it is exposed to the world? Having written dozens of suggestions to the TED team over the years… and not getting any results… well, for an enthusiastic and communicative volunteer there comes a point when she starts looking for more open minded organizations to support… I feel like I have done enough volunteering (especially for rigid and unresponsive multi million dollar foundations), no matter how useful my translations are for my own nation… and lets face it, my nation is not doing much for me (nothing really). The speakers are rewarded with extra PR, so I should not worry about them. I am looking forward to Wurman’s new conferences… But wait… at TED I am given free live conference stream for my several dozen TED translations… but who will translate the 50 minute Wurman conference discussions? TED has over 8000 enthusiastic open translation project volunteers… And that has to do with the fact that Wurman invented TED and Anderson made TED accessible. This is how most people will remember them 100 years from now.