I was invited to be ‘producer & presenter’ for TEDLive sessions at TEDGlobal 2012 in Edinburgh.

Essentially I moderated interaction and generated debates between Speakers, Fellows and the dedicated TEDLive audience who researched on their speakers, sent in questions and tracked the presenter (me) down personally to email in introductions to friends and relatives who wanted to join the sessions. It was incredible and head-buzzing to for someone with a really appalling sense of geography to get mails from Estonia, Dubai, Barcelona, Boston, NY, Norway, Netherlands, Carthage, South Africa, Latvia, Turkey, Amsterdam,  & Krakow… & a warming and humbling training for my management skills.

(photo of John Colaruotolo’s drawings of TEDLive conversations taken by a member of the TEDLive team)

Monday 26th June:

After a 5 hour train journey to Edinburgh, I was glad to find the TEDLive session prepped, stationed and ready-to-rumble. It was so lovely to put faces to the partnerships teams. We watched the TEDU talks from the simulcast while reviewing the past month of rigorous scheduling, question selection and last-minute changes in the rock’n roll TEDing scape.

“Apparently TEDLive Pakistan has just had to cancel because there is no electricity in town.”

You can imagine how this would be Christmas for a lover of the crazy.

The team was livened by the cheerful assistance of Anastasia Kalinina, who used to work with Amnesty International. We knew that we were in the stern but capable tech support of Helmut Luedecke from Videomeet. We were lucky enough to have roped in John Colaruotolo, from Collective Next, who drew out our ideas live as they appeared in our conversation.

There was really no messing around off camera. It was lights off to talk about cat ladies and joystick factories at the whiskey fuelled party at Edinburgh Castle. I remember being a total bad lady as other guests started pitying the sheer amount of items I lugged around and kindly offered to carry my junk as I ate.

Tuesday 27th June: – Adrenaline pumped as emails flew ahead of the first session for the top billers:

Tim Harford // Robert Legato // Robin Chase

I did my homework, brushed my hair and even dug out my pink Trekky top in homage to the maestro of special effects.  It was a little shaky at first as most of the speakers had no idea what to expect. The power speakers were probably more used to talking at an engaged audience than engaging with a live audience ready to challenge and out-smart.

I had to admire their sportsmanship for even agreeing to this and definitely benefitted from their expertise. Tim Harford taught me a thing or two about real ‘interviews’, Robert helped us glaze over any last-minute ‘glitches’ and Robin Chase practically held our hand in improving the user-experience.

Wednesday 28th June: – Emails and questions started to pile up as we prepped for the double session and I was thrilled that the TED team allowed my wish to do a day on the theme of viral social innovations and manufacturing day:

AM: Jane McGonigal // Marcin Jakubowski // (Clay Shirky)

I showed Jane McGonigal my Farmification project, which sent us into giggles about the ‘gamification’ term that’s been glued to her life a chewing gum at the bottom of her shoe. Marcin was so happy with the setup that he even videotaped a 360 of our session and posted it on to Youtube. (Apparently it wasn’t allowed, but seriously, who was going to tell their speaker live that “no filming’s allowed” ?!) A bouncy and energetic session followed as we bantered through the session, toying with the probing and suggestions from the TEDlive sessions and I hollered lovingly at “Turkey!” “Barcelona!” and ” Krakow!”.


Jane Chen // Harold Haas// Eric Berlow // Clay Shirky (Clay turned up 5 hrs behind in US time, bless him)

The afternoon session was looking brighter as the TEDlive team and I had gotten into a working roll. I’d race to the setup before and speakers got there, introduce them to the team and warm them up a little before going live. The team would curate the growing crowd of curious conference-goers gathering at our sessions. We even started having our own tweeter. Every now & then we’d have the odd photographer finding his shot-lived fame as he approached too close to the camera by accident and show how I found myself having a surreal alternative reality of presenting a late-night talk show…

Thursday 29th June: – Image of the following session seems to be missing, if anyone should find it, pls feel free to write me:

Catarina Mota// Candy Chang// Skylar Tibbits // Julian Treasure

Julian starting to poke into the acoustic challenges of conference halls as we geared up our last strengths to speak over the increasingly noisy background. We joked about our hangovers and dark circles as the guests started probing on ‘authentic’ experiences of a week-long conference.


Random stuff:

An physicist’s shoe exploded during a mountain hike on Friday.

I got a LED blinking ring & Neil Harbisson translated it into a glittery tune.

Everyone watched in horror as a magician tried to do tricks with my glasses during dinner. I really liked seeing what I ate.


Written by Lisa Ma

Lisa Ma socializes activism. Combining ethnographic research and speculative design, Lisa creates platforms of engagement from surprising insights and processes that deeply resonate with the global technological community. The emergence of clicktivism – to protest at the click of a mouse – is trivializing activism. Lisa argues that although activism doesn’t necessarily benefit from technology, we need to evolve how activism contributes to technological societies. To illustrate this, she designs dilemmas and creates social events that are perceived as activism but function as services.

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