ארכיון: December, 2011

נכתב בתאריך 28/12/2011 בשעה 12:35 מאת Lior Zoref


The FEDEX guy just dropped off another package at my home from TED.

I opened the box carefully and in it was a marble slab etched with the Ten Commandments for TED speakers.

These are the TED Commandments:


It was wrapped with a lot of packing peanuts and a small note stating that the packaging materials are biodegradable. The peanuts can be put in water and they will dissolve :-)

So I took a few peanuts and put them in a glass of water. Hocus Pocus – they do dissolve.



Today another package came in from TED. What’s next? Everyday a new surprise…

Intrigued, I opened the packaged and found inside the book with Steve Jobs’ new biography.

Attached to it was a letter from Chris Anderson, a TED curator. He wrote that Steve Jobs never spoke at TED but it is harder to find a more important person in the community surrounding TED which has changed the three worlds TED represents: Design, Technology and Entertainment.




Today I got approval to tell I was going to speak at TED (Finally).

Actually, I haven’t been this excited for a long while. Especially from the comments you have written (link to the Facebook thread, link to the blog post).

Thank you all. You have no idea how excited I got from your feedback.


Since telling about TED I am surrounded by so many new experiences.

First of all, the remarks get from everyone and everywhere.

For example, yesterday my neighbor Miriam walked in. an old charming woman in indescribable measures. She came with her daughter, both of them with bright eyes with excitement that I, the neighbor who helps Garden every now and then, is about to speak at TED.

In ted.com there is a section called TED conversations where anyone can create a discussion surrounding an idea or a question.

I wrote there of the process I am going through and that I was looking for examples of people using wisdom of the crowds.

Then, suddenly, my phone starts vibrating extremely and suspiciously. It buzzes every other second, again and again in a way which never happened.

I just finished making pizza and all I wanted was to do was to think of dietician while biting in to this juicy (spicy) pizza in front of me.

But the phone kept buzzing and receiving messages in a wild rate, so I put the pizza down trying to understand what’s going on.

TED’s Facebook page, which has 1.6 million fans, decided to invite all the TED fans around the world to help me build my TED talk:


This lead to 150 shares, dozens of twitter messages, and most importantly – hundreds of messages from fascinating people from around the world.

A pastor using crowd wisdom to build his Sunday mass, a mom who raises her child using crowd wisdom, the U2 fan club manager who uses the wisdom of the bands fans, and many many more.

I gazed at my pizza standing there all alone while I stand there with my mouth open and unable to eat.

My TED talk will be just a few short minutes, but the journey I am experiencing on the way there is long, wonderful and exciting. It is just as important as the TED talk itself and I breathe and admire every moment and every experience.

This is fun…

נכתב בתאריך 23/12/2011 בשעה 6:12 מאת Lior Zoref

image(Link to the first part)


Saturday, 7am, I just finished feeding my 4 month old baby and he went back to sleep as did the rest of the family.

I went to watch the most popular presentation on TED – the mythological TED talk by Sir Ken Robinson, “How Schools Kill Creativity”. No matter how many times I have watched this amazing TED talk – I learn something new from it each time.

This time I concentrated on Sir Robinson’s incredible combination of self-humor, personal stories, citations and of course his great idea.

This is the most viewed TED talk – and I have to let you know that this talk does not include the use of PowerPoint slides! It does include however a great idea, extraordinary story telling skill, humor but mostly, it makes us think.

I sent Sir Ken Robinson an e-mail. If there is someone who inspires me as a speaker, it is him. Perhaps he is the world’s best presenter. I hope he will agree to share some of his experience and insights with me as I ascend upon my preparation process for TED.

(Update – I received a reply and we have agreed to meet during TED)


Today I had 2 meetings with extraordinary people related to TED.

One is the professor Shimon Shoken from Herzliya IDC. He was the one to dream and create TEDxTelAviv.

He also delivered an amazing presentation which was later uploaded to the TED.com and has over 150,000 views:

The TEDx event in Tel Aviv inspired me so much, that my dream was fueled to present at TED (here’s the link to the episode from @shidurey in Hebrew).

The second meeting was with Adital Ela, one of 2 Israelis who have became a TED fellow. She was chosen out of thousands to be a part of a group of 20 people (chosen yearly), to join TED and to receive assistance in organizing resources to help them with the projects they have initiated. Adital’s project is called Windy Light. It’s about street lights which work on wind energy (link for details). She’s raising money to fund the project, and you are welcome to help.

נכתב בתאריך 21/12/2011 בשעה 9:10 מאת Lior Zoref


(Warning– long post…but an important one).

As part of the preparations for my TED talk, after I asked you what should be in the presentation and how to demonstrate the wisdom of the crowds, I got hundreds of ideas from all around the world.

I would like to share with you the talk structure, just before I’m starting to write the full script.

If you have any comments/suggestions/ideas to things that are missing or anything else, I would love to hear your opinion.

After I get everyone’s feedbacks, I will write a first draft of the text I’ll share it with everyone (in a wiki page which anyone can edit).

So, here is the structure of the presentation:


Who am I… Emphasizing me being a "computer geek", not having many friends or a social life during. How my activity on Facebook led me to PhD studies on wisdom of the crowds. And, how it all led me to do the first TED talk based on wisdom of the crowds.

What is wisdom of the crowds

If everything goes well (touch wood) a real OX will come on stage and I’ll will recreate the original experiment which was the base for wisdom of crowds theory. I will ask everyone to tell their weight estimate using their mobile phone on a web-site. Hopefully, the average weight will indeed be the ox’s weight.

In addition, I would offer anyone to propose a closing sentence to end the presentation.

I will explain how today, as social networks are so popular, anyone can use wisdom of the crowds by addressing their social networks friends.


After addressing the crowd to get assistance in building this presentation, a few people addressed me. Their lives have changed due by using wisdom of the crowds through Facebook.

Here are two examples I am contemplating to show during the presentation:

A pastor who is using wisdom of the crowds through his personal Facebook account to build his mass which he delivers in church. He told me that every Sunday the church is full, and a lot more children and teens arrive. Using crowd wisdom makes him feel wiser.

A mother which raises her son using crowd wisdom. Raising children is a task which requires making decisions daily. With your first child, it’s sometimes hard to know the right decision. She told me how by using crowd wisdom she makes better decisions raising her son. For example – by using crowd wisdom she has solved his speech problem. Crowd wisdom makes her feel as if super nanny is with her at all times for any question that might rise.

Moreover, I will tell about the use I have used crowd wisdom to create my presentation. Could this be a new way to create more TED talks?

Do you know more examples? (Do I need more examples?)

How does crowd wisdom works

In this part I would try and answer the main questions I had received since I started to work on the presentation.

How many friends do you need to utilize crowd wisdom?

Out of all the responses you get, how do you decide what is the collective wisdom?

Is the crowd always wise? (no)

Does it really work?….

At this point I will take an envelope with the weight of the ox. I will show a graph with the weights collected from the crowd, and the average weight. I will open the envelope hoping that the average weight will be the same as the real weight.

Do you have any ideas for other questions or subjects I should address?

What is the meaning of this?

What is the meaning of thinking together (presenting the term "mind sharing")?

Is the human race a step before a new phase where humans will improve their thinking capability significantly?

Will the use of social networks change? Maybe we’ll use social networks not just for sharing but for thinking?..

Can crowd wisdom succeed where leaders fail?

Can crowd wisdom make dreams come true?

Sometimes dreams do come true

This is where I will share my dream and how special this moment is for me.

I will ask who in the crowd has a dream? We all know dreams can give a meaning to life. My suggestion to everyone is not only to dream, but also share the dream with their friends.

Thanks and ending sentence

I will present an animation showing the profile pictures of those who have helped making the presentation which becomes the words "Thank you" (or any other animation). Is there anyone who wants to/can help with making the animation?

Finally, someone will give me an iPad which will have the ending sentence of the presentation which was sent in real time. To remind you, the sentence sent in the audition was "great minds think alike, clever minds think together".

Thank you for surviving this far…

Now it’s your turn to think and suggest ideas for improvements.

Thank you.

נכתב בתאריך 14/12/2011 בשעה 4:41 מאת Lior Zoref

image(Link to the first part)


I have begun making a list of all that I would need to do till the event and I got scared..

So, I have decided to manage the process as I learned when managing projects – using a Gantt diagram.

Hoping I would succeed arranging all the tasks, starting with important things like constructing the presentation, things like logistics and flights and to the less important things such as what to wear.

This is how it looks:


I’ve decided to add a category which is named “inspiration” with a list of people I would love to talk to. The list is mainly of Israeli TED speakers, and the most popular TED speakers ever (I guess I will attempt a skype with them). Do you have any ideas who else I should meet?


Today an e-mail came in containing the detailed schedule for TED2012.

If I had thought it was just about presentations, I was wrong.

It begins with a Master Class and Speed Meetings with the different TED participants. Every night there is a party or a different Gala event, and at the end there is a Farewell Picnic.

When I’m invited to a Picnic I always ask what to bring with?

This time I am bringing my brain. I hope that’s enough…


E-mails keep coming to my inbox… this time the title is "Speaker Art Project".

"Inside out" is an art project which turns peoples identities to work of art (here’s a link to the project).

The project is lead by the French artist JR who has won TED’s annual award.

If you are interested in photography or want to see how art can make a real change, I would highly recommend watching his great TED talk:

Anyway, instead of a normal profile picture, the TED team asks each speaker to take a photo in light of this project and make a face that can be anything but the smile of a standard passport photo.

Here are a few samples:


At the end they write this:

"We’ll use these photos in the conference program guide and on giant posters around the conference venue."

A huge poster with my face on it?

I guess someone should have taken my photo when I got this e-mail Smile

I met the photographer Meir Pinto by chance, and I asked him if he would assist with the photo. He agreed immediately, and for that I thank him.

I will publish the photos soon, and I would love your help in choosing the photo to send abroad.

Thank you.

נכתב בתאריך 7/12/2011 בשעה 14:30 מאת Lior Zoref

imageA week ago I started my journey to prepare my TED talk using crowd wisdom, your wisdom. I received hundreds of ideas and insights from across the world. A week ago I sat in front of a blank paper. This week I have all the ideas I need to create the final presentation.

Wanted to share one example with you that started in this post I wrote 3 days ago. I asked for your help with ideas that would help demonstrate the talk main idea in a simple way. Such that would create a Aha moment.

20 minutes after turning to the facebook audience I was flooded with good ideas.

The most outstanding idea came from a 16 year old boy !.

He suggested I recreate the famous experiment which was the basis for the theory of the Crowd Wisdom.

In this experiment, which took place in a middle of an English village back early in the last decade, an Ox was on display, and the villagers were asked to try and guess the animal’s weight. Neither one of the participants in the contest was able to hit the exact mark. However, when the researcher Francis Galton collected all the notes with the weight guesses calculated, he discovered that the mean amount of all the estimates was equal to the exact weight of the Ox.

The 16 year old boy suggested that I recreate that old experiment. In order to do so, I’ll need to have an Ox on stage!…. But instead of writing the guessed weight on notes, the audience will send it through their smart phones, through a short url.

After a few minutes I will present the mean weight as received from the crowd and compare this to the real weight, sealed in an envelope.

As I was so intrigued by the idea – I sat down and wrote this email:

Subject: A crazy/fun idea for my on-stage presentation


As I’m building my presentation for TED 2012 using crowd sourcing, I asked the crowd for creative ideas that will help me demonstrate crowd wisdom during my talk.

I received more than 100 amazing ideas but one of them stood above all. It came from a fascinating 16 years old teenager.

It all starts with an old story from 1906 that was the foundation for wisdom of crowds theory. 

You probably know this story, but here’s a summary just in case:

The British scientist Francis Galton stumbled upon an intriguing contest in his village. An Ox was on display, and the villagers were invited to guess the animal’s weight. Nearly 800 participated, but not one person hit the exact mark. Astonishingly enough he found out that the mean of those 800 guesses was the exact weight of the Ox. This insight presages the idea of crowd sourcing and the wisdom of the crowd.

Now let’s get back to the idea for my presentation. Take a deep breath…

I want to recreate this experiment on stage, but this time instead of using pen and paper, crowd wisdom will be collected using smart phones.

To do that, I need an Ox on stage ! J

(It could be another big animal, but if we wish to be true to the story, we’re talking about an Ox)

I need it for just 30 seconds in which I’ll ask the audience (including everyone watching the live steam) to use their smart phones, enter a short url, and then enter their weight estimate.

After a few minutes, I’ll show how the mean of their estimate is accurate. In order to have a backup plan, I’ll start this process 24 hours ahead of time (using HD video of the Ox) so that I’ll have a backup number just in case.

I know it might sound a bit crazy. But I feel that this demonstration will have a big impact on the audience and will also be so much fun…

So can I have an Ox please?…  J



Yesterday afternoon, I pressed ‘Send’

An hour has passed by – no response.

Another hour gone by, still no response.

23:00 hours Israel time – nothing.

I went to sleep and here is what I dreamed of:

My TED contact people receive the email, hold their heads and mumble “The guy is losing it!”

An urgent meeting is convened. They are all sitting in the meeting room and decide to inform me that they are sorry but I can’t speak at TED. An Ox? Come on. We were wrong to consider you worthy of lecturing. Sorry, don’t call us, we will call you. This is when I woke up from this nightmare.

Went back to my PC, opened my mail and…sure enough, the TED team really liked the idea Smile The stage logistics manager is already on it, trying to look into the Ox challenge.

I’m not sure we will pull this through eventually, but even if we do not, one thing for sure, I will not be wearing red clothes on stage :-)


(link to comments in facebook)

נכתב בתאריך 6/12/2011 בשעה 6:43 מאת Lior Zoref


(link to the first part)


Today is the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur, a holly Jewish day.

It’s time for reflection and inspiration.

To get inspired, I watched a TED talk from one of the best and busiest speakers in the world, Benjamin Zander.

He creates an opening to the world of classical music, and with that he demonstrates how important it is to be receptive to new experiences in life.

I have had the honor to see him live a few years ago and since then I’m a big fan of his.

I thought to myself – what is the experience I want to create among the audience in TED and the online viewers?

Should they be informed? Can I get them to be inspired? Is it also important to make it entertaining? I guess all the components should be there, but what are the ratios between them?

What do you think?….


This morning I received an email from the director of operations at TED and it opens with these words: "Dear TED2012 Speaker".

Every time I see this opener, I have to make sure it is addressed to me J

I read the mail again, just to make sure it doesn’t say: "listen, we were kidding, it was all a joke. You are not going to present at TED".

Instead, I find in the email an explanation on logistics, flights, hotel, transfers, technical demands and more.

The mail ends like this:

"Stay focused on making the presentation of your life and let us worry about the details".

I’ll try, I hope I succeed.


Today I got an email that looks likes fiction to me.

TED has an electronic book publishing called TED Books. They produce digital books for some of the speakers. It’s in an electronic version and it’s being sold at $2.99. These are shorter books than most books (as they do with TED talks – short and focused).

The email was from the head of TED books; he introduced himself and suggested we talk.

I dressed up nicely; we opened our cameras and had a Skype video chat.

He opened the conversation with these words: "We want you to write a book and we would publish it".

Don’t ask me what he said later on, because at that point I stopped listening. If I recall correctly, he said I don’t have to write it by myself. Instead, I can hold discussions with a professional ghost writer, who will assist the writing process.

I keep nodding, and all I can think of is that I want to jump and kiss him through Skype. It’s a shame that this technology hasn’t been invented yet. On second thought, maybe its better this way, or I would have embarrassed myself greatly.

I kept making a polite face. He ended the conversation with the following sentence: "take a few days to think about it our offer".

But me, all I wanted to do was scream at him "YES!YES!YES! I want to do it!".

Instead, I took a long breath and said with restraint "certainly, I would think about it for a few days and we would be in touch next week".

(The book is postponed to a later date after my talk. I’ll explain in the next few posts)

נכתב בתאריך 4/12/2011 בשעה 16:09 מאת Lior Zoref

One of the greatest challenges I have as I prepare my TED talk is to explain a complex idea in a simple way. I hope to achieve this by telling a few exciting stories which will act out the idea (stories which I’m collecting with your help here).

But… beyond the stories, I want to create one moment, towards the end of the presentation where people would say "AHA!". This moment is called the AHA Effect. An inspiring moment in which the audience fully understands the idea.

The best TED speakers have created such moments. Here are a few examples:

Brain scientist Jill Bolte wanted to demonstrate how the two parts of the brain act separately and have a different personality. In the midst of the presentation, she held a real human brain, parted the two lobes, and showed how small the connection between them was.



Bill Gates wanted to demonstrate the hazard caused by mosquitoes carrying malaria in third world countries, so he suddenly took out a jar, opened it and released the mosquitoes in to theatre.



Jamie Oliver wanted to demonstrate how much sugar is found in what school kids eat. He poured a full wheelbarrow of sugar cubes, an amount equal to the sugar found in school kids food over 5 years.


So what do you think I should do to create such an experience?

If the idea that is chosen for the presentation be raised here, I promise to show the photo and name of the person who offered it during the TED talk J

The ideas have to relate to the TED talk theme. Here is a reminder:

Wisdom of Crowds theory exists for many years. The theory states that the collective wisdom of big crowds is smarter than experts as we solve problems or make decisions. 
Until recently, the use of the wisdom of crowds was possible primarily for organizations that have invested resources in developing technological solutions that transformed crowd wisdom into products such as Wikipedia for knowledge. 
In my PhD research I investigate how social networks allow each of us to use crowd wisdom in the daily process of thinking and decision making.

This means that anyone with enough social network friends can ask questions that will require them to think. The collective wisdom from all the answers is probably the smartest thing to do. 
There are already a few people who are using this method. By doing so, they upgrade their ability to think and make decisions significantly. 
Currently, the most popular activity in social networks is sharing. In the future we might use social for something completely new – thinking.

I’m sure you have creative ideas to demonstrate this message, so don’t hold back and share them here.

Thank you.

(link to facebook comments)

Get my best work sent for free
Learn how to make better decisions, tips, stories from behind the scenes and much more...
Never display this again