TED describes itself as a small non profit; yet, this organization sets out to accomplish no small feat. Since its inception in 1984, TED has devoted its activities to "Ideas Worth Spreading". Starting out with a conference bringing together the worlds of Technology, Entertainment, and Design, it has grown both in scope of the topics covered and size. In addition to the annual TED Conference (US) and TEDGlobal (UK), TED encompasses special topic/place conferences, TEDPrize, TEDFellows, TEDtalks (videos of the "talks" from TED conferences on-line), as well as TEDx Events. TEDx are events organized independently but with the TED name, image, concept... it's also a way to make TED (more) accessible (and to more people)!

I had the priviledge of attending a TEDx event last week: TEDxConcordia in Montreal, Canada. From 9am to 6pm, I saw 15 live talks and 4 video TEDtalks, enjoyed the company of a former work colleague, and met two interesting people whom would never have crossed my path otherwise. Needless to say, I came out of Loyola College with my brain in mush from over-stimulation and idea sharing. It was truly a wonderful experience that I  hope to repeat at other TEDx Events and I can only dream to have the opportunity to attend a TED. Here are some of my highlights from TEDxConcordia.

FAVE TALK: Losing Serendipity? by Lenny Rachitsky
Looking back at my notes, I'm wondering why I didn't write any more down during this talk... then it hits me: I was way too into it to do much scribbling. After listening to Lenny Rachitsky speak for all of 18 minutes (oh yeah, forgot to mention all talks are 18-minutes or less... which means a lot more idea-sharing in a lot less time!), if someone now asks me about my "beliefs", I think I will answer "Serendipity". He put a word, a concept on the way I have been - and will continue to - live my life. Lenny also asked us to reflect on the fragile nature of serendipity... with Google brining us ads based on "what we already" like and news that we've identified we want to read, with our social networks on facebook and twitter getting bigger but more concentrated and focused on the same kind of people who enjoy the same kinds of things. Lenny's talk met up with Mitch Joel's presentation in my mind and I started imagining my world as smaller, less social, and lacking serendipity. Rather than scared, though, I couldn't help but be encouraged by our acknowledgement of these issues. So do go to the library and pick out a book from a random section you've never been to, read through the New York Times in skimmer customized to "serendipity", and retweet that post on that topic your friends have never heard anything about... cultivate serendipity in your life!

SCARED SHITLESS TALK: Digital Legacy by Adele MacAlear
Adele MacAlear told us at the beginning of her talk that she is referred as the "death chick" at times... great! Why? Because she questions what happens to our digital/web self after we die, but that's not what she was as TEDxConcordia to talk about. Instead, Adele tackled our digital legacy. Not what Google and other services archives here and there, but our own, personal digital legacies. How many of us have printed photos? Barely anyone, right? Why would we do such a non-environmentally friendly thing? Well... what if facebook shuts down tomorrow and jpegs are no longer supported by any program. Will we lose all our photos? What a scary thought, Adele... and now I've passed it on to you. Her suggestion: curating content and not only digital archiving, but paper archiving too. Add that to the TO-DO list! 

Tara Hunt also helped me confirm I'm not an entrepreneur and although je lève mon chapeau to all you entrepreneurs out there, I don't want to be part of your crazy club! Paul Gillett introduced me to Open Courseware and the fact that over 240 institutions world-wide offer their courses online, for free, to everyone! Check it out at: www.ocwconsortium.org. For MIT classes, which Paul specifically spoke about, check out: www.ocw.mit.edu. Although it doesn't come with a diploma, it brings a whole new meaning to online education.

And finally, for your viewing pleasure, I leave you with two TEDtalks that were featured at TEDxConcordia: Steven Johnson presenting where ideas come from and Derek Sivers on starting a movement. Enjoy!



08/22/2012 04:53

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    Sarah Burke

    Sarah Burke

    Public health and communications professional into sexual, reproductive, and perinatal health.