About Time that we celebrated – TEDxVienna 10 years!


Woohoo, we’ve officially turned 10! Did you celebrate with us? Did you join us in singing “Happy Birthday” after the opening medley by V.O.I.C.E., Vienna’s pop and jazz choir experience?

Our anniversary celebration was not only about celebrating 10 years of existence, but we also celebrated many great achievements:

  • more than 27 events, visited by > 10000 live attendees
  • more than 350 speakers and performers, ranging from 6 to 90+ years old
  • more than 20 million views online

Adding to these achievements, this year’s conference offered 19 talks and six performances which were seen by over 1300 live attendees with many more watching the live stream.

This year’s theme was “About Time”,and we really thought it was time. Time to celebrate. Time to have uncomfortable but necessary conversations. Time to reflect on what was, but also to look ahead at what might be. Time to pause and enjoy this very moment in time.

So, which were the timely topics at the conference?

While all the talks will be online soon enough, let’s take a look at some highlights.

Star Trek actress and founder of Pop Culture Hero Coalition, Chase Masterson inspired the audience to always be yourself, even if is hard sometimes. She talked about her work to stop bullying and help kids and teenagers to overcome social injustice, using heroes from pop culture, movies and comics. This has begun to change the way kids are taught in school in order for them to learn super powers such as resilience and empathy and be motivated to rise up to the challenges of life, ultimately becoming superheroes themselves.

Did you know that women taking birth control pills tend to have a harder time to cope with stress, learn and remember things? They also tend to have reduced sex-drive and are attracted to men with less masculine faces… Research psychologist Sarah Hill described some of the effects that the birth control pill has on women’s brains and highlighted that it is time to talk about this so that women can make informed choices.

What if we could inherit memories? This is a controversial idea, given that the traditional view is that experiences made throughout life should not be heritable. However, maybe they are. Researcher Oded Rechavi presented his research, which was performed in small worms and which showed that acquired traits indeed can be inherited (through RNA molecules). Although it is not yet known if this also takes place in humans, it opens up new perspectives on inheritance and an increased personal responsibility for our actions.

Other interesting questions asked during the day included “Why is there increasing skepticism about scientific expertise?”, “How can you use art to protest?”, “How do people in different cultures measure time if they don’t use watches or calendars?”, “Can time be wasted?”, “How is it to spend a week in virtual reality?”, “Why should robots be able to say “No”?” and “Can we use an App-based game as a novel diagnostic approach to prevent or detect early stages of Alzheimer’s Dementia?”

In between the talks, it was performance-time

When not pondering all of these questions, attendees were able to take a few moments and enjoy some light hearted entertainment. Pianist and music teacher Albert Franz performed a piano piece. Poetry slammer, Elif Duygu, performed her first english poetry slam piece ‘About Time’, which she penned especially for the occasion. Closing session two was Grupo Meia Lua Inteira with a capoeira performance. The audience was then welcomed back from their lunch break by the beatboxing artist Slizzer, who both performed and taught the audience some beginning beatbox sounds. In the early evening, author, musician and sound artist Jürgen Berlakovich showed us what sonified mammoth DNA sounds like. 

Time and time again, there were breaks and even they were packed…

Coffeehouse Talks

This year we wanted to surprise the attendees with a new format. In a more relaxed and intimate setting. Selected speakers sat down with a host, in a coffeehouse environment and had a coffee and a chat after they had already given their talk. The attendees could get their follow-up questions answered and learn more than was possible to squeeze into the original TEDxVienna talk.

Intermission show

Additionally, in each break there was an intermission show, which was live streamed. Host Juan Guerra interviewed many speakers, asked the TEDxVienna founder Vlad Gozman to tell the story of how TEDxVienna came to be, checked out the interactive experiences as well as made a behind the scenes tour.

Interactive experiences

In the breaks, guests were invited to visit numerous interactive experiences. These ranged from printing stamps with a personal photo on it with the Austrian Post Office, to trying to identify the smell of piña colada with Hilton (Fun Fact! The first piña colada was invented by a Hilton bartender in 1954). Taking in games of giant Jenga with the Patent Amt, a book swap just relaxing on the Peace Sofas at the Blogger Corner! Inspiration and good vibes was provided by Storyboard Productions‘ ‘wall of positivity’  and a visit to Kasey Wong’s exhibition on his protest art from various protests in Hong Kong. When the need to withdraw and find a quieter space became strong, attendees could sit down in the ‘Nook Pods’ and have private conversations, read the newspaper or just recharge, phones and themselves…

This is a mere sample of the  interactive experiences on offer, which additionally included several virtual reality experiences as well as the possibility to sample juice and jams made from reclaimed fruit and vegetables.

Time for TEDxVienna to turn green

After ten years, it was ‘About Time’ we freshened up a little! In addition to new speakers, performances, interactive experiences and the new ‘Coffeehouse talks’ concept, the entire conference was hosted by a new venue – Halle E at MuseumsQuartier (MQ). Moreover, we decided that it was about time for TEDxVienna to turn green and be an Eco-event. Meaning an environmentally friendly event. In brief, this means that we used only non-disposable products, served regional, organic and seasonal food and separated the waste. If you are curious to learn more, you can read more about it here.

After four sessions and three breaks, it was Afterparty-Time

The celebration did not end after the last talk and the “Thank you!” to the TEDxVienna crew without whom this event would not be possible. No, the celebration continued long into the night at the afterparty at Hofstallungen with a DJ set from Journey to Tarab.

 

A big big thank you for celebrating with us. We are all looking forward to releasing the talks in the upcoming weeks, so that we all can (re)watch the talks from our favorite speakers. Until then, please enjoy the pictures from the event and the TEDxVienna 2019 About Time highlights:

Photo credit:
Image 1,7 – Natalia Sander
Image 2, 8, 9, 12, 13 – Adrian Almasan
Image 3, 4, 6 – He Shao Hui
Image 5 – Timar Ivo Batis
Image 10 – Hayoung Lee
Image 11 – Fruzsina Jelen

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About Monika Abramczuk

Monika studied biotechnology and molecular biology. When not engaged in research, she likes to read spy thrillers, drink tea, bake and travel.

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