Agora’s Notepad

At TEDxCairoUniversty, we are staunch believers in the power of ideas left free to spread and roam free. Out of our belief in the power of TED’s long-lived slogan, “ideas worth spreading”, we wanted to make sure this slogan was reflected not only in every talk but also in every aspect and little detail during the event, all the way down to the package attendees left home with.
We wanted to share a glimpse of an imagined state in the future where citizens of the world (cosmopolitans) would unite their minds at the touch of a screen. In our Internet age, this freedom is made possible. In a way then, the modern Agora can be realized if a group of people decides to meet ‘virtually’ or share their ideas in the cyberspace.
That is what we wished to communicate with our attendees – by way of the cover of our notepad.
Every attendee and every member received one of these awesome red packages that contained multiple TEDxCairoUniversity souvenirs, including a ‘message in a bottle’ and a colorful notepad that looks odd and out of place with the Agorian theme. So what did our designers want to communicate?
If you look closely, you will see that the cover of the notepad (you can find it at the end of this post) is spattered with vividly colorful recognizable characters and Internet memes that may revive a nostalgic feeling to the 90s and early 2000s golden days. This piece of awe-inspiring artwork was once one big, blank canvas that was posted on Reddit. Users were invited to start drawing on it but with very limiting instructions, each user can only put a single colored tile every 5 minutes. Lots of working groups started to form, each group determined to work together with their colored tiles to finish up their little contribution artwork on this HUGE canvas. What added to the excitement is that battles between different groups were waged, so not only every member of the group helped finish the artwork, but also they had to defend their artwork against offenses and twist every vandalizing change imposed by enemy groups and use it for their advantage. This awesome masterpiece was a result of 72 hours of collaborative work, debates, paradigm changes, intricate planning, ideas exchange and collective mental cocoon-like gathering that resembles Agora, the real Agora, and our Agora.

This collaborative spirit lies at the crux of Agora and reflects a fundamental element of our theme: the belief that joint work can produce robust and brilliant results and ideas, the belief that debates are key to progress, that mental and social interactions are crucial for a healthy society that appreciates creativity and is open to new ideas.
If you like this idea and its backstory, give it a ‘share’ with your friends and family.
Bonus! If we get 100+ likes on this blog post on our Facebook page, we as TEDx Cairo University shall replicate this Reddit project.