TED Fellows » TED Fellows Network » Eric L Berlow

Eric L Berlow

Ecological networks scientist

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Eric L Berlow

Professional Role

Current Titles:

Ecologist US Geologic Survey, Co-Founder Vibrant Data

Current Organizations:

Vibrant Data, United States Geologic Survey University of California Pacific Ecoinformatics and Computational Ecology Lab (PEaCE Lab) TED


Uploaded Photos

Flickr Photostream


Ski for Nature. Telemarkzone in Svalbard

In an effort to promote a more sustainable form of ecotourism in the delicate arctic wilderness, Telemarkzone, with the help of Svalbard Villmarkssenter, developed a combination tour of dog sledding, kite skiing, and alpine skiing. Hoping to limit snowmobile access to regions of the island, a low impact alternative needs to be put in place. Hopefully this is a great start!

Please visit www.telemarkzone.org for more information!

View video on Vimeo »

Ski For Nature. Telemarkzone in Kamchatka, Russia

With over 150 snow covered volcanoes, rising up to 3300 meters above sea level, Kamachatka, Russia has large potential as a back country ski destination. Infrastructure and the organization of sustainable back-country access needed a jump start. Combining efforts with the Kamchatka Ecotourism Society, Telemarkzone traveled into the back country to help provide a better understanding of what was needed to get sustainable back-country ski tourism off the ground. In this breath taking landscape, the potential for skiers willing to hike their way up the mountains is endless.

For more information please visit www.telemarkzone.org

Music: "Flyin Away" by Mo' Horizons. Off their Come touch the Sun album

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The Personal Data Economy - Simplicity on the Other Side of Complexity

Personal Data is the new 'oil' - but how can we catalyze a Personal Data Economy that truly benefits everyone? This is a complex, messy challenge comprised of many problems that are inter-connected - solving one may cause (or solve others). This video describes an ecological network approach developed by Vibrant Data Labs for #WETHEDATA (http://wethedata.org) to gather collective expert input about the complexity of the problem, and boil it down to a few foundational 'Grand Challenges' for catalyzing a new Personal Data Economy. This short data video was screened at the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, January 2013, at inner session about 'Rethinking Personal Data'. We are proud to have helped our friends at the World Economic Forum set the Global Agenda on the Personal Data Economy! To learn more, check out: http://wethedata.org/about/how-was-this-done/ http://weforum.org/personaldata This ecological network approach was developed by Vibrant Data Labs (http://vibrantdatalabs.org) and applied here in close collaboration with Intel Labs, http://Brainvise.com, @TheStoryStudio, and Juliette Powell.

View video on Youtube »

Visualizing the TEDx idea network

TED Fellows Eric Berlow and Sean Gourley of Quid collaborated with TEDx to visualize the explosion of ideas from the TEDx network through the ideas and themes of TEDx Talks. In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized.* (*Subject to certain rules and regulations)

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Swall Institute
? – present
Swall Institute is a sustainably designed creative incubation space near Yosemite National Park in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California. The Swall Institute has hosted retreats for artists, musicians, writers, scientists, TED fellows, and corporate environmental strategy groups that derive a creative boost from blending work with access to nature and stunning scenery.
Project Website »

? – present
Retreats for TED Fellows to help us take our crazy visions and turn them into powerful realities. Co-Organized with TED Fellow, Jessica Green.

10/08/2012 – present
How can we massively democratize data so that everyday people benefit from the explosion of data we generate every day? How can we spark a new Personal Data Economy that actually works for people and not against them? How can we do more with personal data than targeted marketing and surveillance?
Project Website »

Vibrant Data Inc
11/01/2013 – present
Vibrant Data was co-founded by three TED Fellows - scientist Eric Berlow, artist David Gurman, and technologist Kaustuv - to empower people to ask better questions with data. They are currently building the Vibrant Data MAPPR - a cloud-based tool to collaboratively map, analyze, visualize, and explore complex networks. They prioritize projects that are interesting, fun, and socially impactful.
Project Website »


Eric Berlow, PhD, is an ecologist and network scientist who specializes in not specializing. A TED Senior Fellow and Adjunct Professor at UC Berkeley, Eric is internationally recognized for his research on ecological complexity and for creative approaches to simplifying complex problems. His publications in Science, Nature, and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science and elsewhere have been recognized among the Top 1% Most Highly Cited Papers in the field. His two TED talks on TED.com have together received over 1.1 million views. Eric was the founding director of the University of California's first environmental science center inside Yosemite National Park, where he continues to develop data-driven approaches to managing natural ecosystems. Eric co-founded Vibrant Data with two other TED Fellows to empower collaborative exploration of complex networks. Their current projects include mapping the network structure of the Syrian conflict and the ecology of human creativity

Vital Stats

Fellows Class
TEDGlobal 2010
2012 TED Senior Fellow
French (bilingual)
Living in
Berkeley, United States
Working in
Yosemite National Park, United States
Born in
Buffalo, United States


www.ericlberlow.net www.swall-institute.org vibrantdata.is wethedata.org

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