So I was one of the lucky 100 who got to attend TedXRegina on Wednesday at the ShuBox Theatre at the U of R.
Here are some random thoughts about the day…
- never realised until the night before while checking out the #tedxregina hashtag on Twitter that there were only 100 seats available as part of the license the organizers had from TED as a first-time event. That made me feel extremely fortunate to have been able to get a ticket when I expected that the event would be in a huge auditorium with plenty of seats and getting a ticket would be no problem.
- it was cool to see how many people I knew there – from my real and digital lives – and the various circles they come from. A former RPL employee was volunteering, lots of NDP’ers, tons of Twitter folks (most of whom I only know by their handles having not yet gotten out to a #yqr tweet-up), one guy I knew from the writing community, one guy I knew from MetaFilter (who still owes me $10 from the MetaFilter 10th Anniversary party I organized a couple years ago – but I didn’t bother reminding him of that! ;-))
- also cool to recognize the shared connections we have that you only realise through conversation. Someone who went to the University of Western Ontario, someone who is a friend of a friend from a previous workplace and so on. As a former colleague once told me, “Conversations are where the real work happens” and chatting to various people showed that to be true.
- I know the polite thing to say is that the day was amazing and all speakers were equally good but in all honestly, it was much like every other conference I’ve ever attended – whether it was for librarians, writers, book publishers, tech nerds or whatever – in that there were some speakers who were amazing and some who just didn’t do it for me. I won’t go so far as to rank them as I thought about doing but that’s my take. (And as you would would also expect, not everyone agreed with which ones were good and which ones weren’t. Talking to one attendee at the after party, one of the speakers I found lacking was the highlight of the day for someone else. Another speaker who had a message that I found very timely for my own life disappointed another attendee I spoke to.)
- In some ways, I see the TedX local events as sort of like the farm system for the big, mainstream TED conferences in the US (someone said that once the Regina videos are up in the next week or two, they get added to the main TED site and if they generate enough interest, that could lead to someone being “called up” to do their talk at one of the big multi-day TED conferences in the US. Not sure if that’s true or not but it sounds good anyhow!)
- if that’s the case, in my own humble opinion, Dr. David Gerhardt and his Rain Board was head & shoulders above everyone else as the highlight of the day and is someone definitely ready for the call-up to the big leagues. From a great presentation that succinctly explained the idea of trying to make a musical instrument that was easier to learn than the piano or violin but more complex than a kazoo to his ease at integrating the piano already on set into his presentation to the awesome “reveal” of the rain board to the fact that he allowed attendees to play with the device during the break, this one had it all as far as I’m concerned. (Oh, and the rain board isn’t being commercially produced…yet…but you can buy the related iPhone/iPad app which does the same thing, just without all the cool blinking lights!)
- Ken Haycock is a big wig in the library world and lately he’s been writing a lot about how librarians need to raise our profile in places where we don’t normally go (in this case, a municipal affairs journal read by city administrators which has only had two articles on libraries in the last decade.) Ken’s article kept occurring throughout the day as I was the only (current) library employee at this conference filled with some of the most plugged-in people in Regina. And during conversations, when I told people I worked at the library, I ended up answering two main questions – what’s happening with the new Central Library and what’s going on with your contract? In fact, in my dream world, somebody from the library should’ve been ON that stage talking about e-books or copyright or the future of libraries or the role of libraries in the community or one of the zillion other things that we have expertise on that non-librarians don’t always recognize or acknowledge.
- on that note, I handed my business card to one attendee who said “Oh, you’re a Libertarian?” ;-)