Greece: TEDxAthens, The Art of Disruption

On Saturday 3 December, 2011, TEDxAthens 2011 took place in the Cultural Center of the Hellenic World; a 12 hour long, 23 speech marathon, it was organized and supported by 38 volunteers. This year's theme was ‘The Art of Disruption’, as mentioned on the official website:

From Wikipedia and Twitter to Molecular Cuisine and the Tsunamis, our world is full of disruptions which redefine on a daily basis -some indeed more than the others- the way we live…It is now the time to rewrite the rules of the game and change. Everything.

This year's event also hosted TEDxAthens Challenge, a competition for interesting and innovative initiatives in education and learning with positive impact in everyday life. The winner was Urban Dig Project [el], whose aim was “to introduce the citizen to its city through impromptu theatrical performances at historical sites and buildings”.

From @TEDxAthens account.

From @TEDxAthens account.

The next program scheduled is TEDxAthens+Community, as announced at Twitter [el], which includes smaller events, such as brunches and dinners.


A few days after the Saturday event, there were reports in various newspapers and news portals (such as articles in newspaper To Vima [el] and news portal [el]), as well as an extended graph analysis by BAAS, monitoring social media use and analyzing trends during all the TEDxAthens presentations.

TEDx speaker Chris Colwell sent thanks to all participants via a video from Dubai:

While speaker Joe Trippi expressed his enthusiasm in two tweets:

@JoeTrippi: @TEDchris @TEDxAthens was one of best conferences ever. Lots of ideas worth spreading. #tedxathens
@JoeTrippi: I met many of the pioneers and innovators who will build a new way for Greece @TEDxAthens a really incredible conference!

Enthusiasm and inspiration was also plain and clear from Greek netizens in the audience, expressed through various social media platforms, creating a unique buzz even for some days after the event [el]:

ilicon: Το κακό με το TEDx είναι ότι τέλειωσε. Το χειρότερο είναι ότι πρέπει να περιμένουμε έναν ολόκληρο χρόνο για το επόμενο.

ilicon: Bad thing with TEDx is that it's over. Worst thing is we have to wait a whole year for the next one.
@michaeltegos: Μετά από 1 μέρα στο #TEDxAth νιώθω ότι έχω πάρει πίσω τις μέρες ζωής που έχασα με τις βλακείες που ακούω κ ζω τον τελευταίο χρόνο.
@michaeltegos: After 1 day at #TEDxAth, I feel I have reclaimed all the days of my life I had lost with the nonsense I've heard and lived with during the last year.
@Ninetta_Sp: Όταν μετά από δύο ημέρες ξυπνάμε επηρεασμένοι από ό,τι ζήσαμε, σημαίνει ότι κάτι έγινε σωστά #TEDxAth
@Ninetta_Sp: When we wake up two days after, influenced by what we lived, it means something went good #TEDxAth
@vdavitidis: TEDx is more than networking, TEDx is a movement…#TedxAth

Massive participation through Twitter updates and retweets also caused negative comments about both the #tedxath hashtag use and the “idealistic” concept of the event.

@tasos_hardcore: Tο #TEDxAth είναι λόγος unfollow .Ειλικρινά.

@tasos_hardcore#TEDxAth is a reason to unfollow. Honestly.
@SIakovidis: ειλικρινά, έλεος με το #tedxath. αν είναι τόσο καλό, γιατί είστε συνέχεια στο twitter;
@SIakovidis: Honestly, a little mercy with #tedxath. If it's so good, then why are you on Twitter all the time?

@mpodil: Άνεργοι και άστεγοι αυτού του κόσμου, δεν ξέρω αν το πιάσατε, αλλά αν δεν έχετε βρει δουλειά μέχρι το επόμενο #TEDxAth, εσείς θα ευθύνεστε

@mpodil: Unemployed and homeless ones of this world, I don't know if you got it, but if you haven't found a job till next #TEDxAth, you will be the ones responsible for that
@papanormal: @gflessas Προσωπικά θεωρώ πολλά από τα λεγόμενα στο σημερινό #TEDxAth αυτονόητα και ξεπερασμένα για μία κοινωνία του 2011.
@papanormal: @gflessas Personally, I consider that being said at today's #TEDxAth too obvious and outdated for a 2011 society.
@PanosJee: I wonder how many people will start smth [something] new and innovative after #TEDxAth. My guess: 0. All love to talk, few to act.

There were also several blog posts and articles from TEDx spectators. Dimitris Mallas noted [el] his key moments from speakers and Danos Tsakalos mentioned [el] the positive impact of the event the next day.

Mother blogger Aspa Tsamadi (@aspaonline) wrote her impressions both on her blog [el] and on a guest post [el] at

Ζω ακόμα στο ρυθμό του TEDxAthens που έγινε το Σάββατο και είχε θέμα “Η Τέχνη της Ανατροπής”. Οι εντυπώσεις, οι καλύτερες. Τα συναισθήματα, πολλά. Το όφελος για όσους ήμασταν εκεί, τεράστιο. Έμπνευση, θετική ενέργεια και βεβαίως πολλές “ιδέες που αξίζει να διαδοθούν”.

I still feel the rhythm of TEDxAthens on Saturday themed “The Art of Disruption”. Impressions? The best. Emotions? Many. Benefit for all that had been there? Enormous. Inspiration, positive energy and, of course, many “ideas worth spreading”.

At same blog, Dimitris Tsounis wrote [el]:

Εν κατακλείδι, το TEDxAthens ήταν ένα event που ξεπέρασε τα Ελληνικά δεδομένα. Δεν έχει τίποτα να ζηλέψει από τα αντίστοιχα του εξωτερικού, πιο πιθανό είναι να συμβαίνει το αντίθετο μάλιστα. […] Προσωπικά πιστεύω ότι το ΤEDxAthens έδειξε ότι η ανατροπή ΕΙΝΑΙ ΔΥΝΑΤΗ, ακόμα και στην Ελλάδα. Το μόνο που χρειάζεται είναι θέληση και μεράκι.

In conclusion, TEDxAthens was an event surpassing the Greek standards. It had nothing to envy from similar events abroad; I believe the opposite may be true. […] I personally believe TEDxAthens showed that disruption IS POSSIBLE, even in Greece. Only requirements are will and meraki [doing something with soul, creativity and love].

Author Lena Divani, previously participated in TEDxThessaloniki 2011, expressed [el] the need for audience to “feel important” with a pinch of irony:

Σε είδα στο TEDx μαζί με εκατοντάδες άλλους σαν κι εσένα. Μοιάζατε πολύ. Είχατε όλοι το ίδιο χαμόγελο της επιτυχίας, το ίδιο εκδρομικό ύφος κι ένα smart phone ή μια ταμπλέτα στο χέρι για να βομβαρδίζετε τον έξω κόσμο με εντυπώσεις από μέσα. Γιατί ένιωθες προνομιούχος που ήσουν μέσα. Πως όχι; Δεν ήταν εύκολο! Είχες προνοήσει να παρακολουθείς τις αναγγελίες, να στείλεις βιογραφικό (;!) νωρίς, παρακαλούσες να επιλεγείς και να πληρώσεις 45 ευρώ για να πάρεις το πολυπόθητο εισιτήριο εισόδου στην αίθουσα όπου αφηγούνται τα θαύματα. Δεν είναι που είσαι ψωνάρα, ούτε που σου περίσσευαν 45 ευρώ. Είναι που έχεις τόσο απελπισμένη ανάγκη να ακούσεις πως γίνονται πράγματα στη χώρα της αποσύνθεσης, πως άνθρωποι σκέφτονται, διακρίνονται, επιχειρούν, τολμούν, οραματίζονται, αστειεύονται, ελπίζουν. Και -κυρίως- να φανταστείς πως είσαι ένας απ΄αυτούς…

I saw you at TEDx, you and a hundred others. You looked similar, a lot. You all had the same smile of success, the same excursion mood and a smart phone or tablet PC to bomb outsiders with impressions from inside. You felt privileged to be inside. Why not? It wasn't easy. You had been watching the announcements, you sent a bio (?!) early enough, you were begging to be chosen and pay 45 euros for entrance to the room of narrated miracles. No, you are not a douchebag and 45 euros wasn't spare money. You have this desperate need to hear how things can happen in the rotten country, how people think, excel, dare, envision, joke, hope. And, mainly, to imagine you are one of them…

Journalist Elena Papadimitriou (@elenapapad) emphasized [el] the key messages by various speakers: “Failure is OK”, “Don't be afraid”, “Happiness, not success, is important”. Illustrator and blogger Konstantinos Papamichalopoulos (@MilitaryRaidenconsiders that “the main thing about TedxAthens though was not the speeches. It was never the speeches. It'll never be just about the speeches. It's about the meetings and the networking”.

While blogger Apostolos (@apas) argues [el] that:

Σε δύο προτάσεις: το φετινό TEDx Athens δεν ήταν ένα συνηθισμένο TEDx event. Αντιθέτως, ήταν ένα TED event — ναι, σαν αυτό της California…

In few words: this year's TEDxAthens wasn't a usual TEDx event. On the contrary, it was a TED event – yes, like the one in California…

Maria Mouzakiti describes [el] her experience as member of the event's organisation team. To conclude, Java developer Paris Apostolopoulos (@javapapo) described his impressions [el] from various speakers and underlined the need for real actions:

Στην Ελλάδα δεν έχουμε ανάγκη από παραπάνω ενθάρρυνση ούτε παρηγοριά. Απο πράξεις έχουμε ανάγκη. Σε διοργανώσεις όπως το TED πολλοί φεύγουν με μια αίσθηση αισιοδοξίας ή ανωτερότητας για το υψηλό νόημα ή ότι υπάρχει ελπίδα ή ότι θα αλλάξει κάτι. Απο την στιγμή που βγαίνεις και βγαίνω και βγαίνουμε έξω συνεχίζουμε να είμαστε οι ίδιοι μέτριοι Έλληνες μικροαστοί  δεν γίνεται τίποτα. Αυτοί που φοροδιαφεύγουμε, πετάμε την τσίχλα στον δρόμο, κλείνουμε τις διαβάσεις, καπνίζουμε όταν δεν θα έπρεπε, είμαστε ωχαδερφιστές, μας αρέσει να φιλοσοφούμε αλλά δεν συγκρουόμαστε με τα κακώς κείμενα.

In Greece, there is no need for any extra encouragement or consolation. We need actions. At TEDx-like events, many leave feeling optimistic or superior that there is a higher meaning or that there is hope or that something will change. From the moment you go out, I go out, we all go out, nothing happens, we continue to be the same mediocre Greek petty bourgeois; the tax evaders, the ones that throw their gum to the street, block pedestrian crossings with their cars, smoke when inappropriate, social loafers, philosophers not confronting the wrong things.
You can see various gallery photo sets from the TEDxAthens event here, here and here. Thumbnail/featured image by Flickr user Spiros Vathis (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).

Catch-up with more information and participants’ impressions through TEDxAthens official website, blog, @TEDxAthens and @TEDxAcademy on Twitter, and also its Facebook page and Flickr gallery.


  • While I appreciate the spirit of the event, isnt this fiddling while the world burns? Perhaps hard work, more productivity and less reliance on government would pull the country through and not drag europe and the rest of the world into recession? Or is this just me thinking this?

  • Victor Panagiotakopoulos

    I was there! It was a marathon that I never wanted to end. Reminded ME of the KATHARSIS WE LEARNED FROM THE ANCIENT GREEK TRAGEDIES AT SCHOOL, ONLY THAT, THIS MEETING WAS NOT A TRAGEDY BUT AN OASIS IN THE DESERT. THE SMILES THAT I SAW AT THE END, PROVE ME RIGHT. Congratulations to the organizers. Their performance will be hard to beat in the future!

  • […] top three finalists were Urban Dig Project  , Athens Plaython, and  ACSTAC, with the winner aiming “to introduce the citizen to its city through impromptu theatrical performances at […]

  • […] top three finalists were Urban Dig Project  , Athens Plaython, and  ACSTAC, with the winner aiming “to introduce the citizen to its city through impromptu theatrical performances at […]

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