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TEDx Johanessburg (session 1) – Mark Anthony Zimmerman

“The universe is made of stories”

Mark began by using the example of trisecting a banana with his finger to highlight the point that each of us possesses a hidden knowledge, although I wasn’t quite sure what the nature of that knowledge was, or how it related to the focus of the talk i.e. the “Broccoli project”

The Broccoli project is about giving people things that matter to them in exchange for positive social behaviour.  “Social objects and value exchange”, or “getting something you want or need for doing something that you do anyway”, as opposed to loyalty programmes that give you more stuff you didn’t know you needed. One of the examples on the home page right now is to incentivise people to go for HIV testing, which is obviously a hugely important first step in fighting the disease.

Side note: I hate loyalty programmes.  If you want me to be loyal to whatever your brand is, give me a good product/service at a reasonable cost.  Treat me like a human being, not a consumer or a set of eyeballs that you can manipulate to increase sales.

Mark highlighted the point that aid programmes are a 100 billion dollar industry, but about 80% goes missing because of corruption, mismanagement, etc.  He also made the point that weapons programmes will get 5 times more money than aid programmes.  This says a lot about our collective value systems.  If government is the voice of the people, and this is what government is saying, then we have to accept that it’s what we (the people) are saying.

This project is a great example of ordinary South Africans doing extra-ordinary things.

By Michael Rowe

I'm a lecturer in the Department of Physiotherapy at the University of the Western Cape in Cape Town, South Africa. I'm interested in technology, education and healthcare and look for places where these things meet.