Prix Ars Electronica 2009

Description of your project

This project is about bringing in inspirational ideas and fostering social change. It is built around the idea of TED, and is created by two young people living in different continents, made possible by online collaboration tools, and driven by an ardent desire to share great ideas and create positive changes. It is an attempt to bring in more educational content to the current Internet community in China.

TED, education, citizenship, social change

Project History

TED to China started in October, 2008. The project started because we love the idea of TED, and there was no TED China or anything like that when we started. So we thought, why not make a TED fansite in Chinese? So we did it.

The Chinese Internet, though rich with all sorts of entertainment news and other industrial gossip, is still in malnutrition, partly because there are few websites that cover cutting edge ideas about the changing world and possible solutions for social problems. At the same time, as we are chewing the mind-blowing ideas from TED – which are all about making the world a better place – we stumbled upon the idea of introducing the TED concept to China.

At first, Tony did some Chinese translations of TEDTalks, and posted them online. People like those talks and the Chinese translations, and we wondered if we can build a site around this idea.

After some discussions over email, we decided to give it a go. We made a prototype with WordPress, and publish TEDtoChina version 0.1 at the end of last October. Since then, we’ve introduced more than sixty TEDTalks in Chinese, and with the help of social media tools like twitter, we make the TED name known around a whole spectrum of people in China. Many volunteers joined in our group, and they helped further spread the TED idea.

We are still in an infant stage, and the TED to China project needs more care and dedication. We are yet to create some offline gatherings among our community, to better foster idea interactions and ignite social change.


The goal of the project is to bring in inspirational ideas from TED and many other groups, and through the process of idea immersion, we hope to foster a citizen spirit that can be a force for good in the community. Be part of the change, that is a resonating idea at TED, and we want to bring people to this idea through our coverage.


The project is initiated by Tony Yet and Oliver Ding. We adopt the opensource model and anyone interested in joining is welcomed. As of March 17th, 2009, we have seven site editors, they come from different backgrounds and disciplines, all sharing the same spirit of open collaboration. We are employing tools like Google Docs and Google Groups as means of communication. It is a young and energetic team, people are very enthusiastic about the project, and we are very happy about this.

Lessons learned:
What has worked / what has not worked in the process of realisation of your project?

During the first few months of running a fan website, we find that online collaboration is possible, and can turn out great stuff. The translation of TEDTalks into Chinese is mainly done by the community, and with some initial iterations, people can find themselves swimming in ease doing it – with fun. That’s the most valuable lesson we’ve learned.

But the collaboration process is far from easy. There are small details to be worked out for each assignment and sometimes there will be fights of ideas. But we consider that to be part of the process of learning and growth. We feel lucky that we are born in this age of online opensource collaborations.

Statement of Reasons:*
Why the submitted project deserves to win a prize in the “Digital Communities” category.

The TED to China project itself is a testimony to the theory of wisdom of crowds. The team behind this project is distributed all over the globe geographically, and we work on the project totally online. And it is also the support and encouragement of the community that adds momentum to our progress. The community of change that we are building is still small, but we believe that this very idea itself is an idea that worth spreading.

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