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Blast off! The TED Fellows workshops at TED2012

Posted by: Karen Eng

From the TED Fellows blog: Taking off full force on the first day of their pre-conference, TED2012 Fellows were treated to a cluster of workshops offering tools on how best to get attention and support for their extraordinary work — from the profits and pitfalls of public speaking to how to run an exciting crowd-sourcing campaign.

Kickstarter‘s Yancey Strickler and TED2010 Fellow Perry Chen held up Senior Fellow Marcin Jakubowski’s Global Village project as an example of a successful crowd-sourced project. “Make your work discoverable,” they said. “Get people excited and show them how their contributions fit in.” (Watch Marcin’s TEDTalk.) The discussion took an interesting twist when the scientists in the room wanted to know when Kickstarter — which is currently dedicated to creative endeavors in the arts — might start allowing funding for scientific projects.

“Science is just like poetry,” said Senior Fellow Manu Prakash, a biophysicist and inventor. “It’s a very selfish process. You do it for your own sake, really. Yes, it matters to the world, but in the heart, it’s really for me. It has rhythms, it has the same passions, it’s quirky. It’s an art form in its way.”

In another room, communications expert Nancy Duarte broke down and analyzed the world’s great speeches — such as MLK’s “I Have A Dream” — to reveal the cadences and structures of passionate and convincing oratory. “Don’t think of the TED audience as a glob of people who are going to rule your future,” she said. “They’re a long line of individuals who want to have a conversation with you.” (Watch Nancy’s TEDxTalk to hear more about great speeches, and read

Great advice on a day that also saw the Fellows talks rehearsals. In the darkened Center Theatre, Fellows cheered each other on as they enjoyed the nerves and excitement of being on a TED stage, and experienced firsthand each others’ passions — from Abigail Washburn’s sinewy bilingual bluegrass to Bre Pettis’ 3D-printed open-source-designed clocks (Bre is pictured above) to Kyrsten Sinema’s compassionate politics and much more.

The evening drew to a cosmic close as Fellows took a ride to LA’s Griffith Park Observatory, where they took a virtual journey through space in a dizzying 3D planetarium show on our age-old fascination with the cosmos — then lingered under real starry skies while gazing at the twinkling Los Angeles landscape below …

Photo: James Duncan Davidson