A Review of TEDxBerlin 2012 "Crossing Borders" TEDxBerlin 2012 "Crossing Borders"

Redefining Our Comfort Zone - A Review of Crossing Borders

Crossing borders physically, emotionally, culturally, artistically – all these aspects were widely explored on the 23rd of November by an array of international, truly inspirational speakers that received standing ovations from an electrified audience.

Ben Scott and John Bunzl provided a glimpse into a political future buzzing with global interconnectivity between the state and its citizens, proving that the Internet as a political power tool is here to stay.

Diana Nyad, Michael Poliza and Fabian Sixtus Körner awoke daring dreams of adventure, urging us to explore our inner borders, forcing us to reinvent our comfort zones. From evading deadly jellyfish attacks to sleeping at a bubbling lava lake or breaking the law by dancing throughout Bangalore, finding your personal pin-code-syndrome trigger requires an unwavering and passionate commitment to life and all that it entails.

This was also the heart of Carolina Gonzalez-Bunster’s talk, whose unbound passion has led her from a life of Goldman-Sachs to founding the Walkabout Foundation, which has already fundamentally changed the lives of more than 3,000 individuals struck with paralysis, one of these being her own pin-code-syndrome trigger: her brother. 

Language barriers were analyzed and decoded by technology researcher Thomas Petzold and journalist Alexander Görlach who posed vital questions such as why our society is obsessed with crunching numbers if language is the key to our lives, there being an incredible 36 million language pairs, connecting each and every one of us.

Andrea Kolb, Brandalism, Alonso Dominguez and Sven Helbig delved into artistic and cultural borders we are faced with today. Brandalism’s notion of art becoming a form of self-defense in today’s world of hyper-capitalism underlined Andrea Kolb’s vision of making social responsibility sexy by uniting a world of the past with modernity and allowing for tradition to be seen as not only “preserving the ashes but passing on the flame“. Alonso Dominguez hurtled us back into the 21st century by laying bare the ephemeral aspects of contemporary culture’s "cool".

The cliché classical music image, comprising dust-covered violins and traditional tailcoats, was given a glossy makeover by classical music pioneer Sven Helbig, who defined the new crossover of composers as listening to hip hop and punk on the street and then going home and writing orchestra music. Fetsum, Zan Lyons and Fauré Quartett provided the E in TED, crossing musical borders and introducing new sound concoctions intertwined with haunting visuals.

Emotional barriers were toppled and the taboo subject of death raised by neuropsychiatrist Peter Fenwick, who presented a series of astounding stories told by those that have briefly crossed the final border. Legendary Linux founder Jon Hall discussed “free(dom) software”, the freedom culture it promotes and the software slavery it in turn destroys.

The surmounting of immense obstacles and the rekindling of hope in the countries of Iraq and Sudan, thanks to the hosting of local TEDx events organised by Yahay AlAbdeli and Anwar Dafa-Alla, founders of TEDxBaghdad and TEDxKhartoum respectively, displayed the truly immense impact that “ideas worth sharing” can have.

We need to cross borders in order to define our own barriers and live everyday with the undying commitment and passion outlined by Diana Nyad because, as Carolina Gonzalez-Bunster said, "in the end of the day, we are made to reinvent ourselves".


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