Saturday, October 15, 2011

TEDxRotterdam 2011

TEDx events are mushrooming around the world, with more than 9000 videos having been posted at the TEDx corner on the website. That "x" means that someone else has been licensed by in the US to use the format and logo, but the interpretation of the event is very much up to the organisers. With 9000 videos up there, the overall quality is not what it used to be. I'm guessing that TED just uses it as a talent spotting shop.

This year's event in Rotterdam managed to pack 1500 final year students from the local (business) universities into the new Luxor theatre right next to the Erasmus bridge. I guess they did it in English because many of the students from abroad don't speak Dutch well enough to follow presentations in that language. But that meant that some of the local speakers had enormous difficulty formulating a clear TED-style message in English and only few really followed the theme of future leadership. We had stories of endurance, entrepreneurship, fun, and endeavour, but it wasn't clear what the students were supposed to take away. Money dominated many of the talks, the more you have the more successful you're seen to be in Rotterdam, at least. There was an attempt to make some of the students CEO for a day with local branches of international accounting firms. But the live interviews with them "on the job" didn't yield much more than they were enjoying the experience.

That said, the presentation at TEDxRotterdam by Finnish security expert Mikko Hypponen was excellent, being a clear wake-up call that we need a sort of Interpol for the web if on-line isn't going to collapse under the wait of cyber-crime. Although Mikko has a vested interest to say that, the recent hacking incidents into cloud services we thought we could trust to be safe is very disconcerting. In some areas where I work, cyber security has got very bad of late.


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