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Traveling off the beaten path

I'll never forget the day I boarded my first, long distance flight from Charlotte, North Carolina to Madrid, Spain. Passport clutched in my hand, my heart was pounding with adrenaline. I couldn't contain my excitement. For as long as I can remember, I've had the travel bug. I have always wanted to go and see and do. Sitting still was never an option. And four years after boarding my first long distance flight, I have been living abroad in Paris for three of those years and have visited over fifteen European countries. In his talk, "Why you should, and how you could, travel off the beaten path?" Jeremy Ximenez of WikiStage Stanford breaks down the "Where?" "How?" and "When?" for traveling off the beaten path.   Ximenez has tons of experience visiting countries that most wouldn't dare out of fear and uncertainty. While I myself haven't traveled to the countries he mentions, I have visited ones that aren't in the top five for most European travelers, and these tend to be some of my favorites. But why? In the "Where?" section, Ximenez answers that question by explaining that there are less tourists in these countries. And since there are fewer, people tend to be more hospitable and eager to meet foreigners. When I took a cab ride from the Sarajevo airport to the center of the city, my cabbie tried to give me a quick, historical tour of his city with his broken English while whizzing in and out of traffic. The man was proud of his country, and despite a language barrier, he was eager to tell a young American traveler everything he possibly could. Traveling is already something important to learn more about yourself and other cultures. But sometimes when you travel somewhere filled with tourists, it can be difficult to fully experience what the country has to offer. I've discovered that when you travel somewhere with few tourists, locals are more likely to offer a helping hand and try their hardest to ensure your visit is memorable. My stories are not as extreme as Ximenez, but they just as important to me and serve as a reminder for why I love traveling to places most people wouldn't think twice about. And this is something I keep in mind as I plan my next adventure. If you itching to travel but aren't sure where, just take a few minutes to listen to Ximenez's talk, and maybe you will have the urge to travel off the beaten path.

WikiStage SoScience: improving the world through responsible research and innovation

WikiStage SoScience welcomed over 50 guests to its first WikiStage event on May 16 to learn about Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI). The day was divided into three sessions, each dealing with the point of RRI and the form it can take. The first session had the difficult task of introducing the audience to the basics of RRI. Thomas Busuttil introduced the goals of RRI by answering the question, "Is sustainable development a major leverage for a new humanism?" Daphne Carthy followed by showing how responsible research can be profitable by answering the question, "How to combine responsibility and performance during the innovation processes?" Since funding is crucial to complete research, Gilles Bruneaux explained how to select research projects that can be most profitable for society. Finally, Anastasia Mandraveli convinced us about the deep relationship between innovation and law. Following a quick snack break, thanks to our partner Puerto Cacao, audience members were able to discover exceptional RRI projects during the second session. The session started in an unusual way because theatre actors “Mises en Pièces” tried to humorously explain how to cook french fries in a responsible and eco-friendly way. Akpéli Nordor talked about translational research while both Adel Mebarki and Redhouane Abdelloui showed us how social networks can be useful for future health system.    Ladislas De Toldi explained how robotics can improve the lives for some children, and Sandra Rey presented nature as an infinite source of inspiration for innovation After another break, we were ready to learn how to help RRI become viral and inspire everyone in society. This third session kicked off with another humorous skit from “Mises en Pièces” who pretended to perform irresponsible research as a way for audience members to better understand the importance of responsible research. Celya Gruson-Daniel explained the importance of developing open science for both society and for RRI. Lionel Larqué had the audience reflect about the complex relationship between science and society. The event ended with Alexandra Ivanovitch discussing new educative methodologies for the future relationship between science and society. At the end of the day, all of the participants at WikiStage SoScience were aware of RRI's goals and how crucial it is to continue spreading spread this idea over the world!

A conversation with Johannes Bittel

When I joined WikiStage over a month ago, I knew very little about the organisation. I had seen an advertisement online that had peaked my interest. But it wasn't until after I met with the team that I wanted to be in on the action. The website was being revamped, and the old blog was being wiped clean. Immediately, I knew how I wanted to be involved with WikiStage. It didn't take long before I found myself caught up in the energy and the enthusiasm as team members worked hard to finish their tasks. It was refreshing and exciting. And in the midst of everything, I had the chance to sit down and chat with Johannes Bittel, founder and president of WikiStage, to learn more about the future direction of WikiStage. Why the new website change? So the website that we had at the beginning of the project was a very simple website that presented the idea of WikiStage and that presented some of our favourite videos. But it wasn't, yet, this video platform or this video social network, if you like, about short talks. And this is what we now finally make come true with this launch of the new website." What's different about the new website? The new website is a true video platform and social media. You can follow the users that you like. You can watch all the videos from one specific event. You can watch, if you are interested in creativity, you can watch all the videos that are tagged about creativity. If you are interested about a recent event, such as Charlie Hebdo that happened in France a couple of weeks ago, then you can watch all the things that people have to say about this event. It's a platform that allows you to respond immediately with immediacy about current events that are in the news with your own talk. Or add videos that you find on the internet about this topic to the platform." How would you say WikiStage is an open platform? There are many ways how people can contribute.  The easiest way to interact is simply to go on the website, watch the videos, then you can create an account and leave a comment and join the debate there. You can create playlist and put different videos that belong together in a playlist together. You can follow other users.  But then you can get more involved. You can create your own WikiTalks. You can organise your own WikiStage events which aim to record WikiTalks that then go on the platform and produce your own content and contribute to the debate. Or if you are an expert yourself in something and you want to do a WikiTalk, you can record it and upload it to the platform. Or you can get invited to a WikiStage event that one of your friends organises. What do you hope people that participate get out of WikiStage? I hope they would feel a little more empowered and listened to when they have something to contribute on a certain topic. I hope that they discover many interesting things that will broaden their horizons. Many ideas. Many food for thought. Many short, good talks that could entertain them waiting for the bus or when they are doing the dishes. That they can put on a short WikiTalk that could enrich them intellectually in someway. I hope that people make this great experience of inviting others and curating a debate. Organising their own events is a very enriching and a very valuable experience, and I hope that people see themselves as actors and not just as consumers. As active contributors to society and to the knowledge of the world. And not just as people who are clicking, reading and watching but also commenting, contributing and even making a video of themselves. To contribute to something meaningful and bigger than themselves.   

Let's get creative!

When it comes to creativity, most assume you have it or you don't. People have this idea that some are just born with it. But according to two WikiStage speakers, creativity takes time and work. Creativity is not a simple eureka moment admits Martin Kupp, associate professor for entrepreneurship at ESCP Europe. At the moment, these ideas might feel like "AH HA" moments, but you have to actively see them through. "Everyone has the creative, creative abilities that it takes to solve these kind of problems and to come up with these new ideas. But you have to work hard," Kupp says. While people tend to describe me as creative, I still have to work hard and dedicate my time. I might have several "sparks of curiosity" as creativity speaker Petronela Zainuddin calls them, but not all of my sparks turn into flames. I admit I have countless unfinished projects floating about because I never gave these sparkles a chance to become flames. I didn't nurture my ideas, and they died out. But why? After listening to both Zainuddin's and Kupp's WikiTalks, I felt inspired. When Zainuddin asked the audience to take an object out of their bags and ask 10 questions, I pulled out my journal. Why do I carry this notebook everywhere? What would happen if a stranger read it? Why did I get it in black? Would I be sad if I lost it? The questions came easily. My journal is the place where I record all my thoughts and ideas. So it was only fitting I picked it. After finishing both WikiTalks, I replayed them so I could jot down notes in my journal. I clung onto every word, and I became aware of what was holding me back. Zainuddin said it is important for one to find a passion to help turn our sparkles into creative flames. Passion. That's what had been missing from my creative endeavors and the reason why I had countless unfinished projects. Passion. That's what's necessary to maintain one's creativity.