At TEDxAIMS: “Tech spreads slowly”

Arthur Attwell at TEDxAIMSYesterday’s TEDxAIMS was incredible. AIMS is the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences, an institution that provides full one-year, live-in scholarships to post-grad sciences students from around Africa, and leads the inspiring Next Einstein Initiative. I spoke about my experiences trying to build fancy-tech products in South Africa, and my belief that for as long as we think “technology spreads quickly”, we’ll be working on the wrong problems.

Update 19 Feb 2013: I’ve now added the video. The text of the talk is below.

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The TED Talent Search: five days left to vote

Over the last several months, TED has been running its global TED Talent Search (#TEDTalentSearch), an effort to draw on a wider pool of speakers than ever before for TED2013 in Long Beach, California. In fourteen cities around the world, 290 speakers did their best to explain their idea worth spreading. I got to talk in Joburg.


A key element of the Talent Search is public opinion, so on each video, viewers can Recommend, Vote, and Comment. A kind of intellectual Pop Idols. The TED team will be guided by that when selecting about 25 speakers for TED2013. The public voting ends in five days, so if you have a favourite speaker, get your vote in now by going to the Talent Search site (the quickest way is to hit the Facebook Recommend button below a video). Naturally, I’d love to see votes for me and my fellow southern Africans! Continue reading

TEDxCapeTown: Every book within walking distance of every home

On 21 July 2012 I presented at TEDxCapeTown, an amazing day of incredible ideas and conversation. This is what I said. (See my shorter version of this talk for the TED Talent Search here. You can Recommend and Comment there, too, if you reckon I should be speaking at TED 2013.)

Update 1 October 2012: You can see the video here.

I have a question! Who here had one of these books to read when we were growing up?

That makes us really lucky, because bookshops and libraries are vanishingly rare in South Africa. Continue reading