“Technology, education, and design,” Sonja Kovačević, the coordinator of the TEDxReykjavík conference says crisply, sitting down in the meeting room of the Grapevine office. “TED’s slogan is ‘Ideas Worth Spreading’, so the general idea is that people can spread interesting ideas to the masses.” She smiles, clearly bursting with pride and excitement for the tenth iteration of the conference, which will take place on October 13th at Háskólabíó.
For the perhaps five people in the world who don’t know what TED talks are, they are succulent short keynote addresses—each less than 20 minutes—that zero in on the speakers’ extraordinary stories or niche expertise. “It’s ideally with a scientific background,” Sonja explains. “So if you’re interested in something, but you don’t have access to it, TED talks are a good gateway to learn more about the topic. Then you can go deeper if you want.”
Reykjavík’s TEDx conference—TEDx means an independently organised TED event. i.e. something that’s licensed by TED but not run by the main organisation—has been going on for ten years. “TEDxReykjavík was one of the first TEDx conferences that ever existed. We started it the first year that TEDx began in the world,” Sonja says proudly. “This year, we extended our licence, so it’ll be bigger than ever.”
Science and human intersections
The one-day conference will feature ten speakers from a range of backgrounds and nationalities diving into a number of topics, from hacking to humour to manic depression and business.
Sonja is particularly excited for Hafdís Hanna Ægisdóttir’s speech, entitled ‘Training Leaders to Restore a Planet in Crisis.’ “Her talk is about land degradation. She holds trainings for people from all over the world to pass knowledge on about it,” Sonja explains. “Here, she’ll talk about the similarities between Icelandic landscapes and others, in Uganda for example, what can be learned from that, and how information can be spread.”
Logan Lee Sigurðsson—a former Grapevine intern!—is another standout. “She’s been doing research on human trafficking in Iceland and what you can do to prevent it,” Sonja says. “She’ll also talk about what she’s learned from doing interviews with all the different players who have anything to do with human trafficking in Iceland.”
Sonja also mentions Ymir Vigfusson’s ‘You Should Learn How To Hack.’ “He had our most watched TED Talk in the past,” she explains. “He’s going to talk about his perspectives as a computer scientist and also as a hacker about how cybersecurity has changed and why he would encourage everybody to learn how to hack just to protect the free internet.”
A bag of sweets
The conference is completely volunteer-run, and speakers aren’t paid either, Sonja emphasises. “The idea is that it’s focused on sharing ideas that you are ready to giveaway, not to sell anything yourself.” She smiles. “We’re excited to spread ideas and give some interesting perspectives. It’s a nice bag of sweets for a Sunday.”
TEDxReykjavík will be held on October 13th at Háskólabíó, tickets are 6000 ISK and can be bought here.
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