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​Seeking The Young, The Wise, The Undiscovered – applications are open for new voices from Johannesburg to join TED 2013.
A PUBLIC search starts today as Joburg joins Doha, London, Nairobi, Tunis and nine other cities on six continents to uncover new talent, voices and ideas the world needs to hear, many of whom will be invited to speak at TED2013, under the theme The Young, The Wise, The Undiscovered.

TED: Ideas Worth Spreading is a non-profit organisation that started as a four-day conference in California in 1984, bringing together people from technological, entertainment and design backgrounds.

Since then, the scope has become broader. There are two annual conferences – the TED conference in Long Beach and Palms Spring in the United States, and the TEDGlobal conference in Edinburgh in the United Kingdom – as well as the award-winning TEDTalks video site, the Open Translation Project and TED Conversations, the inspiring TED Fellows and TEDx programmes, and the annual TED Prize.

People chosen from the auditions will be invited to participate in the Long Beach conference, TED 2013.

Applications open separately for each city, at least two months before auditions, and are only accessible online. In Johannesburg, applications for the auditions run for 20 days from 24 February to 15 March. Applicants are encouraged to include a one-minute video of themselves.

In each city, 30 of the best applicants will be invited to each audition. Joburg auditions will be on 3 May, and will take the form of a three- to six-minute talk or performance in English only.

Previous TED speakers include the likes of former American president Bill Clinton, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, writer Chris Abani, scientist Neil Turok, and musicians Vusi Mahlasela and Paul Simon.

With more than 25 TEDx licenses issued to South Africans since 2009, the country is one of the most active on the African continent. TED has partnered with TEDx Soweto to deliver the Johannesburg leg of the auditions. TEDx was created with TED’s mission of “ideas worth spreading”. The aim is to stimulate dialogue through events that are planned and co-ordinated independently.

The TEDx Soweto convener, Kelo Kubu, who is also the TEDx ambassador for Africa, says: “Our goal is to find remarkable people doing great work, across disciplines, wherever they may be. This is a great opportunity to showcase Africa’s ingenuity to the world.”

TED explains: “We believe passionately in the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and ultimately, the world. So we’re building here a clearinghouse that offers free knowledge and inspiration from the world’s most inspired thinkers, and also a community of curious souls to engage with ideas and each other.”

Anyone can apply to audition, so long as they have not spoken previously at a TED conference, TEDGlobal or TEDActive, and do not have a talk posted on

Organisers say they are especially looking for:

The inventor ... sharing an innovation with world-changing potential;
The teacher ... sharing valuable knowledge in a memorable way to teenagers or adults;
The prodigy ... young talent ready to break out;
The artist ... who can showcase their work in a compelling, new way;
The performer ... music, dance, comedy, drama – or something entirely different;
The sage ... wisdom the world needs from those who have learned it the hard way;
The enthusiast ... with an infectious passion about a topic they can share;
The change agent ... helping shape the world’s future with work that matters;
The storyteller ... vivid, original, meaningful, with a talent for connection; and
The spark ... with a powerful idea worth spreading.
They are not looking for “product-hawkers, jargon-junkies, dullards, wafflers, motivator wannabes, self-promoters, spouters of new-age fluff”.

For more information, check the website.

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