Ideas worth spreading

TED is an annual event where some of the world’s leading thinkers and doers are invited to share what they are most passionate about.[:en]TED is an annual event where some of the world’s leading thinkers and doers are invited to share what they are most passionate about.


‘TED’ stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design – three broad subject areas that are, collectively, shaping our future. And in fact, the event is broader still, showcasing ideas that matter in any discipline. Attendees have called it ‘the ultimate brain spa’ and ‘a four-day journey into the future’. The diverse audience – CEOs, scientists, creatives, philanthropists – is almost as extraordinary as the speakers, who have included Bill Clinton, Bill Gates, Jane Goodall, Frank Gehry, Paul Simon, Sir Richard Branson, Philippe Starck and Bono.

In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TED has created a program called TEDx. TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience.
The very first TEDx event in The Netherlands was held in Amsterdam on november 20th, 2009, location Royal Tropical Institute. From our appreciation of TED, SILO joined the TEDxAmsterdam team and designed the official website. In addition, SILO initiated the idea to publish a book for this first major TEDx event in the Netherlands and carried out the design. The book is meant as a reference guide to the event, but also as inspiration and stimulation, in order to propagate and enhance the legacy of TED.


The theme of the first TEDxAmsterdam conference is ‘Breakthrough’. The interesting aspect of this theme is that a breakthrough can be ambitious and compelling, but it can also be small. November 20th 2009 is not only the date the first TEDxAmsterdam event is held, but it is also Universal Children’s Day. While keeping the “Breakthrough” theme in our mind, we decided to focus on how children view the world. Children younger than three years old are still “free” of the confines of assumptions and of rules with regard to our (acquired) reality. They are thrilled by every day events, while they will effortlessly view a Wonder of the World as a reality. For them reality is not set. This creates an opening for new points of view and surprising thoughts on a wide range of ideas.

We asked a selection of inspiring and upcoming artists, illustrators, writers, designers and photographers from our network to give their view on the theme “Breakthrough”; the hidden and/or forgotten beauty of everyday, so that the world can be seen through different eyes. The book resulted in a collection of inspiring articles from the 2009 TEDx speakers, practical information on the event and interpretations of the theme breakthrough in small booklets interspersed between the pages.

The book contains contributions of Ivo van der Bent, Amie Dicke, Nadine Stijns, Daan Botlek, Martijn F. Overweel, Yomar Augusto and Ivo Victoria.

Preceding the conference the theme was also presented via the new website. People were able to upload short videos, telling about their personal breakthroughs in life. Besides checking the weekly announced speaker, uploaded videos could be viewed to get into the TED mood.
With only 6 months of preparation the event -according to several guests- was a ‘blasting experience’. Twenty speakers gave their TEDx-talk on stage and three of them were immediately invited to speak at TEDGlobal in the next year: Christien Meindertsma, Marcel Dicke and Karsu Dönmez.


The event captured a lot of attention. Both from the media (with full page articles in national newspapers) and from very motivated guests. This was the first time that a conference in The Netherlands saw a waiting list of more than 5000 people.

TEDxAmsterdam 2009 was nominated by High Profile for their Event Award 2009, and the Breakthrough book won a Gold European Design Award.
SILO also took part in the organisation of TEDxAmsterdam 2010, and TEDxRotterdam 2011.

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