Drinking From The Mnemosyne Water Spring - Guest Post by Costas Tsolakidis

June 3, 2015 by Antonio Moreira Teixeira   Comments (0)


The third guest post on the EDEN conference experiences is from EDEN Fellow Costas Tsolakidis. My good friend Costas has kindly accepted to join Sandra and Lisa in this initiative and to share with us some of his personal memories of the EDEN events. You can find more about Costas' work here. He has a large experience of the EDEN events. As you'll see, his recollections go as far back in time as 1997.

Costas offers us another great post in this special series. Inspired by Mnemosyne like the poets in Hesiod's Theogony, he guides us in a truly emotional and exciting travel in time, punctuated by funny stories and the memory of illustrious characters in our field's history. All of this illustrated by the mesmerizing views of the Greek islands. As you'll see, Costas focuses our attention in particular in the preparations of the memorable EDEN 2003 Conference that was held in Rhodes. Costas played a major role in its organization and shares his privileged perspective on that experience.

The Rhodes conference has also a very personal significance to me as this was the first EDEN event I've contributed to. As some of you may recall the theme was «the quality dialogue». My colleague Rosa Miranda, now at the Lisbon's Nova University, and I submitted a paper which was accepted precisely on the topic of quality in ODL. We claimed quality should be perceived as distinctiveness. Unfortunately due to last minute logistic difficulties we couldn't travel to Greece and present it. But, this marked the start of a close connection with the EDEN community.

I do hope you'll enjoy reading Costas' great blog post. And, by the way, the EDEN Open Classroom initiative will return to Greece once again, this time to Athens, next September. New important developments will be announced soon regarding EDEN's continuous support to opening up school education.


September, 1997: Open Classroom Conference in Crete. My first ‘face to face’ contact with the EDEN family! I remember the superb environments of Elounda with the restaurant in the cave that made the spectacular setting and Judas Schwartz mesmerizing all of us…
I could not imagine at that time neither the continuation of the links with EDEN nor the effect of EDEN on my academic and social life.



June, 2003: EDEN Conference in Rhodes!!! As a permanent citizen of the city, I became somehow one of the hosts! The challenge was big and the Cretan model difficult to meet. Knowing my role, a year before the Conference, I travelled to a nearby island (eight hours by boat!) to meet Nicholas Negroponte. I asked him to be a keynote speaker at the Conference and I was thrilled on his positive answer. I believe his presence together with that of all the distinct participants was among the highlights of the Conference.


Last moment preparations: I remember Andras, Anna, myself and another two persons filling the participant’s bags with all the goodies. The proceedings weighted 1,667 kg each plus the leaflets and other material made up a considerable weight for each participant and obviously a big task for the handlers.

When the big day arrived, I was at the balcony of the airport, trying to hang a big banner of welcome for the conference participants, and, suddenly, realized that Prof Negroponte’s flight had landed. I remember that I just managed to climb down from the balcony, in a rush to meet him. He probably understood that my movements are far from what one could call ‘gentle’ or ‘careful’: While I was helping him with his stuff, he urged me to be extra careful with it, as he had in his suitcase a special router to provide Internet for his house and a part of the island. At that time broadband was scarce in the area!

I found a good idea to announce early enough that the conference opening reception was to be held at the garden of the villa of ex-commander of Rhodes, now belonging to the Municipality of the city. Soon I realized that, no matter how good, my idea was rather unusual for the local bureaucracy! The garden had no lights and needed some setting. Who was going to do it? Unluckily, academic knowledge proved (once again) to be of no use… Lucky me, I relied heavily on my extra-loud voice, the help offered from some good friends and my skills (skills developed from my studies in electrical engineering but also from my expertise in organizing BBQ at home). The opening reception in the specifically set up, lit garden has rewarded us and, I think, it was worth all the effort. 

The organizational aspects were an overwhelming task that surpassed all six papers I was involved with. But I think I will never forget the stress of preparing my keynote speech. I wanted to have a really good theoretical – if not a philosophical – presentation… I remember myself trying to work on the concept and, at the same time, disrupted for technical details! Ah!! It was a real experience! I barely managed to prepare that speech on a very basic level. I cannot say that I have enjoyed it that much; on the other hand I was so excited and happy welcoming the participants that, at the end, I felt the quality of the speech did not matter so much: the quality of the dialogue and communication certainly mattered more! 

Key words for the Conference in Rhodes twelve years ago: Fewer experiences, less expertise, less personnel, less technology, probably less wisdom. At the same time more anticipation, more magic, more enthusiasm. By definition younger – all of us, all of EDEN!


Throughout the years a lot of people were involved with EDEN in more or lesser degree. Most are still around, some were drifted away. Whatever the time span, the technology and the personal perspectives of each one participant of the EDEN conferences, the scientific knowledge, the collaborations and the friendly and family-like atmosphere are a standard constant throughout the years.