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TEDxHEC Montreal

Update 02/20/2023: This post is almost a decade-old. At the time of this project, I was young, so please excuse the baby face. And I had little design skills, so please forgive the Comic Sans. My journey building innovation projects continued at Microsoft where I currently lead a UX engineering team at Bing. I write a weekly newsletter on the latest in technology, machine learning, design and innovation. Enjoy the show!

At TEDxHEC Montreal, I address the question of how can we best put our networks to use. The resulting talk, entitled “Democratic Collaboration”, examined the challenges of collaboration and demonstrated the ways that technology can be used to solve these problems. Democratic collaboration called on the audience to approach the leveraging of networks as if they were building a democratic system: everyone is treated equally but certain rules are in place to prevent chaos.

To demonstrate the merits of democratic collaboration, a few friends and I built a real-time collaborative project in which the audience could participate through SMS. Audience members were asked to write a story by submitting sentences. At first, no constraints were imposed and sentences were posted in the order they were received. It was a mess. The experiment was run a second time but with constraints; one sentence would be chosen every 15 seconds and the audience could see where the story was going before submitting another sentence. The resulting story, while imperfect, was more coherent. Take a look at the video to see it live in action!

The talk received positive reactions on social media channels and was featured in Les Affaires (Wayback Machine).

TEDxHEC Video Rami Sayar Democratic Collaboration”
Newspaper clipping from Les Affaires

The real-time collaborative system built for TEDxHEC was tested to manage thousands of messages, apply constraints, and filter out profanities. A detailed report of the technology behind the project can be found on GitHub.