I was fortunate to get to go to the sold-out TEDx conference that happened on campus the other day, and it was pretty fun. Organization was great, food breaks awesome (cereal offered at the break?! You bet), and I met some interesting people.
If you’re not familiar with the TED talks, it’s an ongoing series of talks focused on Technology, Entertainment, and Design started in 1984 and with the motto of “Ideas Worth Spreading.”
The talks and speakers themselves vacillated a little wildly. One or two of the speakers were very young (which is fine) but inexperienced enough to come across as giving a talk in a high school public speaking class (with mind-blowingly obvious facts in their information), but I am sympathetic to the fact that you have to start somewhere and speaking at a TEDx conference (even a local one) is not a bad gig. So good for them to have that opportunity and to take it.
On the flip side, we heard some fascinating talks on subjects as wide-ranging as cryogenics for equine reproduction (Goal: “We want to get foals on the ground.”) to the incredible idea of 3-D printing and the potential of being able to print your own medicine that works with your specific body chemistry. (Consider my head exploded for that talk. Amazing to think about.) And the speaker on 3-D printers had printed out his own bow tie on a 3-D printer. Cool touch.
Another good touch was that in between the live speakers, they played a selection of old TED talks ranging from how to more efficiently tie your shoelaces to drying your hands with one paper towel to sociological research. This is one of the reasons that I really love TED talks: the extremely wide variety of scholars and researchers who contribute. You never know what you’re going to learn about and it’s fascinating. (If you haven’t seen a TED talk, try the site. Good luck getting anything else done for the rest of the day though.)
There was also poetry, a classically trained pianist (who was stunningly good and only 17), and a stage set up that involved more than 10,000 used plastic water bottles. It was a fun day, and I loved learning random stuff and meeting some new people.
It was a really good experience overall, and I highly recommend going to one of these if they happen to be in your area. Worth the money and the time for the contagious enthusiasm of the attendees and the speakers.