Aja B.
  • Aja B.
  • New York, NY
  • United States

Online Community Manager, TED

This conversation is closed.

Shall we introduce ourselves?

Hello everyone!

I'd like to start a once-a-week "get to know you" conversation, since there are a lot of new faces around TED Conversations these days! Let's try a one-day conversation that closes and reopens once a week on Wednesdays, and see how it goes, shall we?

Here's a few questions to kick things off:

• What's on your reading list right now?
• Where would you love your next travel destination to be?
• If you could witness any event past, present, or future, what would you choose?

The default comment view is in reverse chronological order, so the oldest posts are down at the very bottom. You can change the "Sort By:" menu below if you'd prefer a different order. Off we go! :)

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    May 24 2012: Hi Aja,

    I read a lot and many different subjects interest me.

    The Adamic Language and Calendar; David B. Cohen, MD - Biblical Coding
    Horse Soldiers; Doug Stanton - US Soldiers in Afghanistan
    A Train to Potevka; Mike Ramsdell - An American Spy in Russia
    The Last of the Breed; Louis L'Amour * (re-read because it is a excellent book)
    Common Sense; Thomas Paine * (re-read because it defines the American cause, spirit, and relites my fires)
    I like Dick Francis books as they are free of smut, foul language, well written, and very interesting.

    I have traveled the globe and like Dorthy " there is no place like home."

    I would enjoy being at the Globe Theatre in Statford upon Avon I am a romantic and that period would be my nitche.
    Rabbi Hugh Sconfield wrote "The Passover Plot" and to be present to see if this was fact or fiction would be interesting. The problem of going to the past or the future is the possibality of altering history. To just view any of The masters in art or science would be a great honor. To associate with any of the illuminatti would give insight beyond my wildest dreams. There is no way I could choose any one event.

    I an retired three times, a consultant, coach at the local school (football, basketball, and track), write, volunteer, and spoil grandkids. I am 70 and look forward to the next half of my life.

    All the best. Bob
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      Aja B.

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      May 24 2012: Hi Bob, everyone's got such eclectic reading selections here! If only I had the time to read everything listed, there are some fascinating books I'd like to check out. And thank you for reminding me how much I'd love to be a fly on the wall of da Vinci's studio, it's fun even just to imagine it. Good to meet you!
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    May 23 2012: John Shaw here: Fairly new to the conversations and enjoying them!

    Reading:
    Start with Why by Simon Sinek
    A Conferacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole - for the seventh time - I read this at least every two years

    Travel to: Ireland - my roots - it's been awhile

    Witness: The sermon on the mount
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      Aja B.

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      May 23 2012: Hi John! Congrats on your TEDxSDSU talk! Sounds like it was a great experience. I'm curious... you grew up in California, what keeps drawing you back to Toole's world? Have you visited New Orleans before/since reading "Confederacy"?

      I'm always curious about books that inspire multiple readings. As a kid, I must have read the sci-fi novel "Ender's Game" at least a dozen times. Gave away my copy in a pique of indignation after reading some of the author's op-ed columns in college, though, and haven't read it since!
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    May 23 2012: Hey Guys,

    I'm a newbie to the forums too so thought I'd post a little message.

    I'm Richard and I'm a web developer based in London. I quit my day job working in advertising in January of this year to learn how to code and I'm now working for myself developing websites for a variety of clients in London and loving it.

    Here's my reading list:

    Jon Ronson, The Psychopath Test, 2011
    Richard Wiseman, 59 Seconds, 2011
    Simon Garfield, Just My Type: A Book About Fonts, 2010
    Michael Ellsberg, The Education of Millionaires, 2010
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      Aja B.

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      May 23 2012: Welcome Richard! Kudos on a rewarding career change. I hadn't heard of 59 Seconds before, I think I'll pick up a copy. Love that fact-based advice! :)
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        May 24 2012: Hi Aja!

        Yes it's a fantastic self-help book that is based purely on empirical data which makes a refreshing change :). Another great book by the same author is The Luck Factor which examines what luck is and why some people are "lucky" and others not so - again all backed up with studies and tips on how to make your life more lucky!
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    May 23 2012: Hi there!
    I'm really new to TED, but browsing through the talks an conversations has been mind-blowing!
    My reading list right now: 'A Long Way Gone' by Ishmael Beah and 'Animal Farm' by George Orwell
    Next travel destination: Africa
    I know this isn't possible, but I would love to witness the birth of a star.
    And here's a smile :)
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      Aja B.

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      May 23 2012: Hi Felippa! I've read Animal Farm several times, love it. And his "1984", too... I wonder what Orwell would think of life in the year 2012. Beah's book sounds frightening and fascinating. Not exactly light summer reading! :)
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    Jun 6 2012: Reading update, carrying on from last week.

    Now on The Empathic Civilisation by Jeremy Rifkin.

    Fantastic book of epic scope. Read it, read it, read it!

    And have a look a Jeremys' TED talk as well.
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      Aja B.

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      Jun 6 2012: I need to get a Kindle. :) Too many great books to hunt down!
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        Jun 6 2012: I've got the complete Works of Shakespeare on my phone. Sometimes sneak a crafty read during boring meetings!
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          Jun 6 2012: THAT'S IMPOSSIBLE!!! All of that on a little phone???
          I haven't entered the NEW AGE yet...still in the dark ages technologically:>)
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    May 24 2012: people like to explore there own experiences and how they look at themselves as if looking from outside. i am always redefining and deeper understanding of how my events looks at me and this seems to be some kind of way of educating myself. simply i would love to have a conversation and find some where a deeper relationship with someone that whants to know me for intelligence. it takes these mediums and technology which i find so facinating to do this today and maybe find intimacy and great people with the same interests and views. like a conversation i responded to yesturday sounded like one that i started when i first found about TED. and the comments that followed (something about the power of love- i cant find it now on here?) were so similar to the way i think. thats some way of introduction! Sorry a idea made by derek young "Love is not the strongest emotional force within a person......" is the similar way i think in his first explanation. and a way to find another type of intimacy and way of introducing your self. if you read his comments i hope this makes sense. D
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    May 23 2012: Hi!
    I'm not really reading anything at the moment or planning a holiday but for question 3, I would have loved to be in Berlin as they pulled bricks out of the wall. Watching the news coverage in late 89 in my mother's loungeroom as a twenty yearold I burst into tears. As someone born in the late sixties I had no knowledge of a world without cold war tension. While our current predicament regarding terrorism is a concern, at least we no longer live with the constant threat of mutual destruction.
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      Aja B.

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      May 24 2012: Wow, that's a good one. I was too young to really understand what was going on when the wall came down, but I studied it later. Actually, I think that'd be high on my travel list, walking through some of the old checkpoints (I assume something was left?) and seeing what has and hasn't changed...
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        May 24 2012: In my head I imagine unbelieving east Germans hopping back and forth through a check point "now I'm in the east,now I'm in the west, now I'm in the east, now I'm in the west.........
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        May 30 2012: I think there are no checkpoints any more... the famous (and tragic) checkpoint "charlie" site is now a museum... am I right???
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    May 23 2012: My current reading list:
    'The Moral Of The Story' by Nina Rosenstand.
    'Disgrace' by J M Coetzee

    next travel destination: Toronto,Canada.

    I would love to witness a soccer world cup final with two African teams competing for the trophy.

    Please check the profile and weblinks on my page for more info about me. And I will be glad to tell you more about myself.
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    May 23 2012: • What's on your reading list right now?
    Samuel Eliot Morison - Three Centuries of Harvard
    • Where would you love your next travel destination to be?
    Saint-Petersburg
    • If you could witness any event past, present, or future, what would you choose?
    Manhattan Project
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    Aja B.

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    May 23 2012: Well hello! I've been in and out since the very beginning of TED Conversations, but I've never properly introduced myself. Let me do that now!

    I'm Aja, and I was part of the team that originally launched the Conversations project last year. My daughter was born shortly after we got things up and running, and I've spent the last year taking care of her full-time. Now I'm working for TED again part-time, helping to manage the behind-the-scenes work here along with the rest of the fabulous Conversations team. :)

    • What's on your reading list right now?
    Too much! I need more hours in the day for reading. I'm in two book groups, so for those I have "Sleepwalk With Me" by Mike Birbiglia and "The Old Romantic" by Louise Dean. I'll be re-reading Carl Hiaasen's hilarious "Skinny Dip" when it's my turn to host. I'm halfway through "Building Successful Online Communities" by Robert Kraut and Paul Resnick, and at some point I'm going to need to finish and return a friend's copy of John McPhee's "Annals of the Former World" that I've had for… a few years now. :) I'd also love to have a chance to work on Robert Caro's LBJ biography (biographies?); his "The Power Broker" is one of my all-time favorites, and completely changed how I look at NYC.

    • Where would you love your next travel destination to be?
    I'm really not well-travelled, my only trip outside the USA was to Edinburgh last summer. I'd love to take the classic train trip through Europe, especially the beautiful old stations.

    • If you could witness any event past, present, or future, what would you choose?
    The future is tempting, but what if I didn't like what I saw? I think I'd go with the past… I'd love the chance to see an original performance of Hamlet at the turn of the 17th century, both for the play and for the experience of being in London at that point in time.

    Thanks all, looking forward to getting to know you! :)
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      May 30 2012: Thank you, Aja, for your recommendation of the Kraut book, which I will add to my reading line-up. While I don't run or moderate a discussion board to which one attracts members, I do steer a discussion board as part of a course at a major university. Stimulating fruitful engagement in that temporary online community is fundamental to my work.Beyond this, a key area of research and practical focus to me is community engagement in urban areas, with a particular interest in collaborative problem solving on a community scale.

      I am reading Wisdom by Andrew Zuckerman. There are stunning photos and short interviews with fifty creative and accomplished people over the age of 65. Interviewees include Desmond Tutu, Andrew Wyeth, Ravi Shankar, Robert Redford, Henry Kissinger, ... people who have distinguished themselves in a range of fields.
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        Aja B.

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        May 30 2012: Fritzie, thank you! I will definitely pick up a copy of that book. And I hope you find the Kraut book useful, I think you may find some interesting perspectives in there. Most of the social science concepts it covers are pretty basic, but I find it helpful to be reminded of how they also apply to online communities. People are people, after all, whether they're on- or off-line. :)
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          May 30 2012: By the way, in relation to this thread about introductions, do you remember in Jane Jacobs how she describes as one of the strengths of cities that people can be connected to each other without the relationships becoming highly personal? I think this dimension may arise in online communities as well, particularly in those in which people are expected to use their names (rather than pseudonyms).It is true that personal bomds connect people more surely and permanently into communities, but many people here may be interested in intellectual rather than personal connection.
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        Aja B.

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        May 30 2012: I think you're on to something there, Fritzie... I should go re-read her thoughts on the value of sidewalks. :)

        It's interesting thinking about what the ideal balance would be between "intellectual" and "personal" connections in a community like this one. I certainly agree that this is a community that leans to the intellectual, but are personal connections of value in an intellectual discussion? Do we better understand each other's ideas when we better understand each other?
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          May 30 2012: There is the option of getting to know/understand people by what they say in discussion. For example, those who consistently advance discussion with interesting ideas make an impression of who they are that knowing where they may like to travel does not convey as well. Similarly, the way someone works as you build a house together, or the fact that she volunteered at the same barn raising, tells you something by her actions and choices that speaks louder very likely than self description.
          I am not at all saying that personal relationships are not fruitful in communities. I am only saying that they may not be vital when the community itself is well centered on content that is of mutual interest.
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    Jun 6 2012: Hi Aja,
    I'm still busy with Nina Rosenstand's 'The Moral of The Story'.
    But I'm also on a review-read of Peter Abraham's 'Tell Freedom'. The first time I read it in 1999, South Africa was a 4 year old democracy.
    Looking back from 2012, I think the country has made so much progress. Even though much more can still be done.
  • May 30 2012: Howdy :-)

    I R TED newb :-P but I love it! and this is a great idea Aja :-)

    I am currently reading "Gardens of the Moon" (Steven Erikson) the first book in the Malazan book of the fallen series, and for anyone who hasn't read it (and is into "high fantasy") check it out! it's really good.

    Aside from that, I do a lot of internet reading and am very interested in the history of science and how knowing more about it can help people in their everyday lives (particularly when it comes to drawing sound conclusions).

    I can't wait until my next TED trip tonight when I watch another series on Netfilx and share in my worlds passion for understanding.

    I'm not sure I can list one single event but I would very much like to:
    -have been there for Selam's birth (who is only known to us now through her fossil),
    -hide in the bushes during an actual encounter between Homo Sapiens and Neanderthals,
    -observe Socrates's mannerisms as he speaks,
    -bow my head in shame for the human race as Galileo is forced to recant Heliocentrism,
    -breathe the air of relief on a day we no longer look at the earth as our home but instead as the home of our ancestors and one of many homes - signifying (among other things) the extension of our ability to survive as a race not limited to the scope of a single planet (with the hope that we have not brought our history of war and violence as a burden for any other life in the universe to bear).
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      Aja B.

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      May 31 2012: Wow! Such thought-provoking ideas! Big agreement here on witnessing those early hominids. And a bit further back to see how well our theories about the Cretaceous period matched reality... so many mysteries, still.

      And welcome to TED, Robert! Hope you enjoy your viewings tonight. :)
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    May 30 2012: Hi Aja,
    I just got another book on my reading list:

    Cultural Anthropology:An Applied Perspective by Gary Ferraro.
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    May 30 2012: Hi Aja

    Here goes....

    I'm reading "Anarchy in Action" by Colin Ward.
    I'd like my next travel destination to be home, as I work away from my family during the week.
    I'm hoping to witness the kids grow into happy adults.

    All a bit soppy I know, but it is mid week! :-)
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    May 30 2012: Hi Aja... great idea!!!

    I'm reading "On China" by Henry Kissinger
    My next vacations will be in Minnesota (USA)- next month where I will visit the man that hosted me as an exchange student back in 1969
    I would like to be witnessing the sun set over the sea in Reñaca - Viña del Mar (Chile)
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      Aja B.

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      May 30 2012: Hilton, that sounds like a wonderful trip. 1969 would have been an interesting year to spend in the USA! And I love your choice of event... I take it you've experienced this particular sunset before?
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        May 30 2012: You bet I did!!! I spent almost a week in Viña just looking at long sunsets over the Pacific Ocean!!!

        Also , in 1969-70,I spent 3 months (in winter) in a small town in Minnesota... now I want to know what it looks like when it's not frozen...
  • May 23 2012: Hi. I'm Rhona.
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    Jun 7 2012: Right now I am re-reading Gandhi's biography and I am also reading "Habits of Mind" by Antonio De NIcolas. Habits of Mind is really good if you are into philosophy because not only does it classify the different forms of logic but it the second half of the book is filled with Cicero, Plato, and more.

    My next travel destination is either France or China.

    If I could witness an event I would want to see the moment writing or language was invented.
  • Jun 6 2012: Hey Aja, Im Mr T, Pleased to meet you. I'm reading John Bellamy's ecology against capitalism to give a wider context to some of the things I may encounter at and around my next travel destination, which is a remote tributary in the Peruvian Amazon.

    If I could witness one event, it would have to be whatever was going on 'before' the 'beginning' of the 'universe'. Either that or what the world looks like in 10,000 years time. Curiosity!
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      Jun 7 2012: hi everyone Im reading and wondering about science and religion in a book "Genesis Enigma" and in it the author endeavours to explain THE BIG BANG THEORY and how biblical txt has been proven to alighn with the word of God and today knowledge. An interesting look at how the universe was created. maybe you would enjoy this MrT
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    Jun 6 2012: Hi Aja,
    I'm a very "old" member of TED...LOL:>)

    I don't ever have a "reading list" because I find that whatever I am "supposed" to be reading at any given time happens to come into my possession. I walked into the library recently and a certain book caught my eye...that is what I am reading at the moment. It's called "King Peggy", and it's a true story about a woman who was born in Ghana...left her small village (Otuam) to come to the USA, where she worked as a secretary at the Ghanian Embassy in Washington for years. In 2008, she got a phone call from relatives in Ghana, telling her that her uncle, the king had died, and Peggy was the new King of Otuam! It's a fascinating story with lots of cultural, educational and very interesting pieces:>)

    So, I would like my next travel destination to be Otuam, Ghana, and the event I would have liked to participate in is the crowning of Peggy as King of Otuam. She's done some good things for the village, like drill wells to bring clean drinking water to the villagers:>)

    P.S.Since we're introducing ourselves...this is what entertains me in the summer, and people say if you see Colleen's gardens, you will "know" Colleen:>)
    http://smugdud.smugmug.com/Quintessential%20Vermont )
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      Aja B.

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      Jun 6 2012: That sounds fascinating! So she's still ruling? Was this something she was expecting to do one day, or did it come as a surprise to her?
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        Jun 6 2012: Totally UNexpected...complete surprise! I'm not telling you any more:>)
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    Aja B.

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    Jun 6 2012: Another Wednesday, another opportunity to get to know one another. :)

    I finally managed to finish a book for book club this week, "Sleepwalk with Me"... thankfully it was a very short and quick read. Although I was told it was a comedian's memoir, it was really just a collection of his standup routines written down as chapters. But that worked for me, since I'd never seen his work before. Enjoyable enough!
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    May 31 2012: Hi Aja.

    1) I,m reading The Kite Runner.
    2) My plan is to explore northern part of Afghanistan but I,m still shaky with my decision concerning security situations.
    3) I,m witnessing war in my country now but I,m tired of it & want to witness peace. I have been waiting for this since I came to this world.
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      Jun 7 2012: Bless you, Rafi. May peace come quickly. Please let it be so. If people only realized how intimately we are all connected to one another.
  • May 30 2012: HI,

    My name is Pavels. I've followed TED videos for quite some time now, but I'm new on conversations.

    I'm a programmer, so most of my reading list is software related. The last book I've read is "The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood" by Deckle Edge. I'm also reading "Human Action: A Treatise on Economics" by Ludwig von Mises, an exception from computer-related literature =)

    Not sure what my next travel destination will be. I'm considering to go to Crimea, but that's currently just a thought.

    If I had the opportunity, I would like to witness the launch of the first train. Old trains are awesome )
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      Aja B.

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      May 31 2012: Welcome to Conversations, Pavels. :) I also love trains (hence wanting to travel Europe by train!), but I don't know much about early train history. Did they evolve gradually, or was there a specific moment when the idea of a "train" suddenly came about? And did those first builders of trains realize how much they were going to change the world...?
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    Aja B.

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    May 30 2012: It was great seeing everyone's responses last week! There's a lot of fascinating books being read by the TED.com crowd. No surprise there! :)

    Has anyone finished any of the books on their list? I ran out of time with one of my book club selections, and had to go to the meetup without having read the book. Whoops. I did finish the textbook I was reading on building communities, though, and that was great. Tomorrow I'm going to start on "Sleepwalk with Me" for the next book club meeting. For real this time! :)

    Looking forward to meeting more of you!