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31.03.2010: TEDx CarletonU: Veni, Vidi, Admirati

Category: conference     Posted by: cornelius     Discuss: view comments     Views: 3409

First of all, let me start off by saying that I don't really have an idea why I was extended an invitation to attend TEDxCarletonU last night. Now that the event has passed, it somehow feels even harder to justify my presence there. I'm not a decorated authority in my own field, like the presenters. My definition of being a changemaker is most likely restricted to influencing the lives of the people who are in my life. Hell, I don't even know if the expression I used in the title of this post is gramatically accurate in Latin. So no matter which angle I look at this, TEDxCU was not the typical geek gathering that I normally attend. It was not a meetup, tweetup, bootcamp, democamp, book club or UX conference, though elements from all of those types of events surfaced in various instances during the presentations.

TEDx CarletonU logoThe best way (well, the only way) I can describe it is sharing a room with visionaries, people with big dreams and overpowering desires to do something different and make significant contributions their professional field of choice. You can call them creators, innovators, brainiacs, entrepreneurs, changemakers, but the title itself is irrelevant. What matters is the fact that their work has the potential to improve our human condition. A fact so very few of us can claim.

I'm also not going to attempt to describe the presentations from last night or try to prove that I belonged by quoting some of the inspiring ideas that were unveiled. I wouldn't do them justice and the very presence of the speakers was one of the key ingredients to being immersed in those new exciting realms that mesh science, technology, art and social responsibility. What I can promise you is that if and when the video recordings finally surface on the interwebs, I'll make sure to anchor them to this post, in case some of you are interested in a time-delayed virtual experience of the evening's official events.

While some of the projections shown by presenters involved in research related to international development painted a somber picture, the evening had its fair share of lighthearted moments. CBC Radio One's Alan Neal was a wonderful MC and made sure no one felt out of place by deflecting the bulk of the jokes onto himself (which proved to be a valiant and surprisingly effective strategy). His antics during speaker transitions were worthy of accomplished comedians. My favourite moment included an unexpected virtual passer-by, the white Winterlude mammoth that almost stole the show during Jesse Stewart's ice percussion video presentation.

If you weren't one of the lucky 100 who received an invitation this time, the best way to follow the proceedings was on twitter (hashtag #TEDxCU). The TEDxCarletonU twitter team (headed by Japman Bajaj) had a lot of competition from the twitter birds in the audience who were equally up to the challenge of keeping the rest of the virtual world in the loop. For the first time at an event I didn't feel out of place for having my phone turned on, and religiously following the conversations during intermissions.

And now that it's all over and withdrawal/nostalgia settles in, many thanks are in order to the event's organizers, starting with Carleton Innovation Director and TEDxCarletonU curator Luc Lalande (the man with the vision), the Gladstone Theatre (an amazing venue if you are like the vast majority of the attendees who were there for the first time), the MC, the evening's wonderful presenters from Carleton University (in order of appearance: Dr. Banu Írmeci, Manuel Baez, Jesse Stewart, Maria DeRosa and Jim Davies), the caterers, the camermen and computer operators, the web team, the twitter team... etc.

This event was different (and that is probably the case with all TEDx and TED events), so for all those out there contemplating the difficulty of filling in an essay-style long answer application for future TEDx events, let me give you a piece of advice. Go ahead and do it. It will be one of the most inspiring events you'll ever be a part of.

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steven (31.03.2010 15:58:24) wrote:
Just like many high-profile events lately, I followed TEDx Carleton U via twitter last night. This writeup really makes me mad that I didn't apply to be there in person. As usual, great article.
Rosemary Vaughan (31.03.2010 16:02:01) wrote:
I was also invited as a local community manager/connector/influencer and agree with this post 100% - it was a wonderful experience with fascinating talks and it was truly an honour to be a part of it!
Japman Bajaj (31.03.2010 18:36:39) wrote:
Amazing post!

I fully agree with you. I feel so fortunate to have been a part of the evening last night. To be in that room with the types of people that were there was truly a privilege. Had I not been a part of the SM responsibilities (Amanda Emmanuel, Sonia Riahi, Nicholas Osborne, Manu Sharma, etc.), I'm not sure I would have successfully been able to apply to be a part of the crowd. I feel honoured to have been a part of the night.

You've done a great job in capturing the event. Alan was a great emcee and made sure the evening had a natural flow. The speakers were phenomenal from the word "go". Dr. Banu Ormeci really framed the evening with her talk that undoubtedly every seat in the room could relate to.

Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts!

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