Three amazing women Meet the Shape Whats to Come ambassadors

The Shape What’s to Come ambassadors, with Lakshmi Pratury from the INK Conference, talk in the journaling space — while behind them, visualization artist Sunni Brown doodles their ideas into shape. Photo: James Duncan Davidson / TED At TEDGlobal this year, we’re meeting three ambassadors of Levi’s Shape What’s to Come campaign — three Indian … Read more

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Raising the bar QA with Lucy Kimball, creator of the Physical Bar Chart

Nafissa holds her two favorite pins from the Physical Bar Chart. Photo: Robert Leslie / TED One wall of the simulcast room at TEDGlobal 2011 is festooned with what appears to be a massive bar chart. Closer inspection reveals it’s a row of vertical plastic tubes, about 2 meters high, each dispensing buttons of a … Read more

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Visual notetaking with Tom Wujec at TEDGlobal 2011

[vimeo w=525&h=294] Video: At TEDGlobal 2011, Tom Wujec, a Fellow at Autodesk and a repeat TED speaker, showed his spectacular note-taking technique to the TED Blog’s Karen Eng. Source:

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Fellows Friday with Genevieve von Petzinger

Genevieve von Petzinger’s database of prehistoric geometric shapes in cave art reveals some startling insights. More than mere doodles, the signs used across geological boundaries suggest there may have been a common iconography before people first moved out of Africa. When did people begin graphic communication, and what was its purpose? Genevieve studies these questions of our common heritage.

Are you a multidisciplinary mold-breaker?
TED2012 Fellowship applications are now open! Apply here.

Interactive Fellows Friday Feature:

Join the conversation by answering Fellows’ weekly questions via Facebook. This week, Genevieve asks:

Do you think the urge to create art is a universal human quality, or did a group of people ‘invent’ it (say, prior to humans leaving Africa), and then share it with others?

Starting Saturday, click here to respond!

Congratulations on being one of the TEDGlobal 2011 Fellows! How is your first TED Conference going?

It’s been such a great time. The Fellows are all brilliant — that was kind of a given — but they’re also incredibly nice! They’re all so passionate and want to share. Typically when you’re dealing with brilliant people, they’re not always the most personable. But every single one of the Fellows is fantastic. My roommate, Bilge Demirkoz, works at CERN, and I couldn’t have asked for a better roommate. We get to talk particle physics at night, which makes me really happy, because that’s always been a fascination of mine.

I felt great about my talk on Monday during the Fellows’ pre-conference. We had time with a professional speaking coach, and I’m feeling really good going in to my main stage talk coming up on Friday.

And as for my work, Autodesk, one of the sponsors here, takes photographs and turns them into 3-D renderings. I’m chatting with them about possibly doing that for some of the interiors of  cave art sites, with all the renderings of geometric signs in their places. I’m excited about possibly partnering with them on this project that could give people a virtual experience of being in the cave.

What got you into studying the geometric signs of cave art?

I knew I wanted to be an archeologist since I was a kid. In my last year as an undergrad, I took a class called Paleolithic Art. While I was sitting in the classroom, they were putting up all these beautiful images of animals: rock art in Europe that was done  between 10,000  and 35,000 years ago. The animals are amazing — they’re huge, they’re done using perspective, color, and shading … you can see why the animals become the focus and the obsession.

What I kept noticing in the corners and around the edges of the photos, were these little geometric shapes. They were around the animals, on the animals, near the animals … but they were never centered in the photos.

Pech-Merle, a 25,000 year old cave in France with a panel of horses surrounded by non-figurative imagery. (Photo: B. Defois, Pech-Merle museum)

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Fellows Friday with Kamal Quadir

Creator of CellBazaar, a virtual marketplace that can be accessed via mobile phone, Kamal Quadir is on to his next mobile phone-based venture, bKash. This new company provides access to financial services through the mobile phone. Kamal divides his time between homes in America and Bangladesh, yet this nationally-recognized artist still squeezes in time to paint — sometimes while on an airplane home!

Are you a multidisciplinary mold-breaker?
TED2012 Fellowship applications are now open! Apply here.

Interactive Fellows Friday Feature:

Join the conversation by answering Fellows’ weekly questions via Facebook. This week, Kamal asks:

Which is the hottest place for an entrepreneur in the world today?

Starting Saturday, click here to respond!

Since selling CellBazaar, what have you been up to?

I wanted to take some time off after selling CellBazaar. But a week after selling CellBazaar, I took over this extremely exciting company, bKash. We launched nation-wide service of bKash yesterday.

“Bikash” in Bengali means “blooming” or “prosperity.” “Kash” sounds like “cash,” and “b” can stand for Bangladesh. bKash is about creating financial services for people in Bangladesh who don’t have access to banks. Bangladesh has a tremendous mobile network. It’s one of the best-networked countries in the world: 97 percent of the population has access to mobile phones. Yet only nine percent have access to conventional banking. bKash is trying to minimize that gap.

Cell phones are like mini-computers: you can maintain a bank account with a mobile phone. We have made a mobile phone-based financial service, which is safe, convenient, and easy to use. I have been helping to build the company since January 2008.

Did your CellBazaar experiences help prepare you for bKash?

At CellBazaar, I learned how to use mobile technology in effective ways, which is helping me tremendously at bKash.

There are many technological innovations taking place all over the world that could improve lives in Bangladesh in many ways. The challenge is finding the right technology and communicating that to 160 million people. Most of them do not have access to the Internet or regular media, and do not read English. Sixty percent of the population doesn’t have access to electricity. How do you include them in the technological possibilities? It’s a fascinating challenge to work on.

With CellBazaar, we approached this problem by making a virtual marketplace, accessible via the cell phone, so even a farmer in a remote corner of the country can easily and efficiently sell his bag of potatoes. The technology itself is a small piece of the puzzle. Figuring out its execution and limitations is the key.

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The sameness of organisms, cities, and corporations QA with Geoffrey West

On stage at TEDGlobal 2011, Geoffrey West talked about the universal mathematics that govern cities and corporations. Knowing only the population of a city, he can predict the number of patents, the crime rate, the average walking speed and many other features of a city. Before the conference, TED’s Ben Lillie reached him in his … Read more

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The importance of deep pleasure QA with Paul Bloom

Psychologist Paul Bloom, author of How Pleasure Works, studies the nature of pleasure. At TED Global he gave a witty and riveting talk on how knowing the history of an object (or a relationship with a person) can profoundly affect our enjoyment of it or them. After the conference, TED’s Ben Lillie caught up with him to talk … Read more

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Fellows Friday QA with Candy Chang

In her public art pieces, Candy Chang uses low-tech tools such as chalk, Post-it notes, and stickers to help people make their cities more user-friendly. We sat down with Candy to ask her more …

Candy asks:

If you could ask one question to all of your neighbors, what would you ask?

Click here to respond on Facebook now! Or join Candy’s live Q&A on TED Conversations, Monday, August 1, 3pm-4:30pm Eastern, at

You have so many public art projects going on. What are you working on right now?

Well, my Civic Center colleagues and I just launched Neighborland. It’s a tool to help residents shape future businesses and services in their neighborhoods. It developed from a public art project I did called “ I Wish This Was,” which was inspired by vacant storefronts. Everybody passes by vacant storefronts and has ideas for what they’d like in them. My neighborhood in New Orleans, for example, doesn’t have a full-service grocery store. What if we actually had some power to influence the kinds of businesses that enter our neighborhood?

I created fill-in-the-blank stickers that say “I Wish This Was _____” and posted them on vacant storefronts. People wrote things like “a butcher shop,” “a community garden,” and “a taco stand.” It was kind of a lovechild between urban planning and street art. But there’s only so much you can do on a sticker. Some people wrote on each other’s stickers with things like “me too” and “3 votes for that.”

Some of these conversations needed to move to a more constructive space. So we developed the website Neighborland. It will hopefully connect residents who want things with likeminded people, initiatives, and resources. It’s a valuable poll for civic leaders and developers to assess what residents want in different areas. And it promotes entrepreneurship by revealing neighborhood demands and proving there’s a viable customer base for new businesses to open.

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The dangers of online crime QA with Mikko Hypponen

Mikko Hypponen is the chief research officer at F-Secure corporation, where he has led his team through some of the largest computer virus outbreaks in history. On stage at TEDGlobal 2011, he delivered a witty, entertaining, and deadly serious talk about the dangers of internet crime. TED’s Ben Lillie reached him at his office in … Read more

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From our live QA with Nina Tandon Is it life, or Creative Commons?

Here’s a big question: If your cells were used to grow an organ in the lab, is it still “your” organ? On Monday afternoon, TED Fellow Nina Tandon (watch her TEDTalk) asked the TED community to weigh in on the question in a Live Q&A, and the conversation hit on some central themes of identity. … Read more

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