I first stumbled upon www.TED.com the summer before coming to Tech (in ‘08), and needless to say I was mildly addicted to the website for a while. There were not as many short and informative talks online about random interesting subjects including technology back then, and initially there was something surreal about watching experts in their fields tell stories of the fascinating and amazing things they were doing, discovering and inventing.
For those that have not heard of it, TED is a set of conferences that has gained widespread popularity in the last couple of years, mostly due to the popularity of the talks that they started putting up online in 2006. TED stands for “Technology Entertainment and Design,” and the TED conference was founded in 1984. Over time it has evolved into more than just a conference, largely due to the community that it has created around the talks that are put up online. TED’s official mission is “Ideas Worth Spreading,” and over the years it has launched some other initiatives to fulfill that mission.
TEDx is one such initiative. TEDx was created to further TED’s mission and to give local communities, organizations and individuals the opportunity to congregate and simulate dialogue through TED-like experiences locally. TEDx started as an experiment with the first event held at USC in 2009. Since, it has grown virally and established a presence at most major cities and universities in the US and internationally.
Tech—being home to both ground-breaking research and world-class thinkers and innovators—is a perfect environment for an event of such a nature. of such a nature. In addition, such an event seemed to fill the disconnect that exists between the faculty doing ground-breaking research and their students, especially those undergraduates who watch silently from afar. Inviting these innovators to speak at a TED-like event brings together the curious and pioneers in their fields and provides a forum for both parties to have a dialogue.
Take for example Dr. Weinberg, Director of the Center for Music Technology, and Shimon, the improvising musical robot. Like most students, I had seen Shimon on the Tech football PSA and again on Tech’s homepage. However, there wasn’t really a forum that facilitated a face to face interaction or dialogue with the faculty that worked on Shimon. At our first TEDxGeorgiaTech event last year, we invited Weinberg as one of our speakers to share the insights, previous project iterations and past works that eventually led to the projects that he was currently working on. It was a fascinating experience.
Organizing the event at Tech however came about quite by chance. After a previous organization did not pan out as my friends and I had hoped, we switched gears and got involved in bringing a TEDx experience to Tech.
TEDxGeorgiaTech is a conference at Tech that brings together bold and innovative thinkers & inventors to give insightful talks in their areas of expertise. Like all TEDx events, it follows the TED format, wherein most talks are 18 minutes long since, according the the larger TED organization, the duration is “long enough to say something substantive, is short enough to hold people’s attention (even on the internet).” As such, TEDxGeorgiaTech hopes to be a catalyst in promoting the TED mission of “ideas worth spreading” in the Tech and greater Atlanta community.
The second TEDxGeorgiaTech is next weekend on Saturday, April 7, and we have a lineup of speakers that have expertise in areas including neuroengineering, robotics, computing, music and biomechanics. If these topics are something of interest to you, or something you want to learn more about, please visit TEDxGeorgiaTech.org to learn more and register to attend. And, if you haven’t already, I would encourage you all to visit www.TED.com and explore the dozens of lectures available on the site.