Shades of Openness: Session 5 at TEDGlobal2012

Click to watch this session’s opening animation

Too often, we view “openness” as an unmitigated Good Thing. Yet, as we’ve seen up close over the past decade or so, transparency comes with consequences. Reality is neither black nor white, and until we can learn to take a nuanced view of the problems with which we are beset, meaningful progress will remain ever unattainable. In this session, we take a closer look at some of these shades of gray.

In this session:

Malte Spitz is a politician and environmental activist in his native Germany. He sued the telecom giant Deutsche Telekom to hand over the data they’d retained on him via his mobile phone. The goal? To find out the extent to which we are tracked. The result? His location was logged 35,000 times between August 2009 and February 2010. (You can see an interactive visualization at Die Zeit.) Spitz is here with us in Edinburgh to talk about the use and misuse of data–and its prevalence throughout society. Read our recap of his talk >>

Ivan Krastev is the chairman of the Centre for Liberal Strategies in Sofia, and a permanent fellow at the IWM Institute of Human Sciences in Vienna. His provocative thesis: if all trust in the system has already disappeared, how do we manage democracies of the future? Read our recap of his talk >>

“Anonymous” has proven a high-profile if opaque focus for transparency and openness watchers in the last few years. Anthropologist and academic Gabriella Coleman has been monitoring the group for a number of years. She’ll dig into hacker culture and attempt to make meaning from the very deliberate chaos. Read our recap of her talk >>

As if our minds won’t already be reeling by this point, Gerard Senehi will then take the stage. A star in the world of psychic entertainment, Senehi will bring the audience an experience it’s unlikely we’ll forget. Read our recap of his performance >>

Most coverage of the industrial revolution in China takes one side or the other. Either the working conditions are absolutely fine, or they’re absolutely unacceptable. Longtime Wall Street Journal reporter Leslie T. Chang lived in China for a decade, and she takes a more nuanced view. Her book, Factory Girls, focuses on the lives of two young factory workers she followed over the course of three years. She’ll share some of her insights and help us to understand a fantastically complex issue in more detail. Read our recap of her talk >>

Artist Neil Harbisson describes himself as a “Sonochromatic Cyborg.” That is, he’s color-blind, but has developed a system whereby he can hear color. He’ll demonstrate his synaesthetic system, which involves wearing a camera as a third eye. Read our recap of his talk >>