A thing I did in 2011…. TEDxMidwest
I went to the TEDxMidwest conference in October in Chicago and it was just the coolest thing. A whole day – and more – of “riveting talks by remarkable people” and I got to go for free! I was selected to be part of the ThinkChicago program as part of Chicago Ideas Week, so in addition to going to events at Threadless and Accenture and hobnobbing with folks from Groupon and Google, I got to spend a day at TEDx.
TEDx is a local version of the big TED conference, which is held annually in Long Beach, Cal. The four-day conference been described as “the ultimate brain spa,” which I can imagine is totally accurate, since I was so excited and curious after just one day in Chicago. TED stands for technology, entertainment, and design, and the conference is based on short talks from a variety of disciplines, a diverse audience, and the opportunity to mingle, network, and share ideas with other attendees and speakers alike.
At TEDxMidwest, I got to hear talks by Dean Kamen (inventor of the Segway), John Hodgman (comedian and Daily Show correspondent), Alexis Ohanian (founder of Reddit), Wes Craven (director of “Nightmare on Elm Street”), Phil Zimbardo (psychologist who ran the Stanford Prison Experiment), and John Ondrasik (lead singer of Five for Fighting), among many others. And it was awesome. The full list of speakers is available on the TEDxMidwest website.
A thing I’m going to do in 2012… Listen to NPR
I went to a taping of NPR’s news quiz show “Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me” this summer when I was living in Chicago. Each week, the show does a segment called “That’s Not My Job,” and the host Peter Sagal asks a famous or semi-famous person about something completely unrelated to their field of expertise. For the show I saw, the guest was former president Bill Clinton. Sagal asked him about My Little Ponies. Clinton called in and chatted for nearly 30 minutes before Sagal got around to asking about the ponies.
I met Sagal at TEDxMidwest in October and told him that I had been at the Clinton taping. “The producers were in my ear telling me to wrap it up because Clinton’s people were furious that the interview was running so long, but he just kept talking!” said Sagal. NPR clipped the interview for the Wait Wait broadcast, but the full interview is available online.
The rest of my family has listened to NPR for a good long time, but I’m just now getting on the bandwagon. I love to read magazines, and listening to NPR is pretty much like reading a great magazine piece without having to do the reading yourself. Instead, someone with a nice voice tells you a cool story and you get to learn things while driving to the grocery store or walking the dog. How’s that for multitasking? And then, after you’ve heard about a great new book or figured out what exactly is going on with the housing market, you can tell other people about it and sound plugged in to the world. Win-win-win.
A thing I want to do someday… Go to TED Global
The TED Global conference is held in Edinburgh, Scotland – my favorite city. I spent not quite 48 hours in Edinburgh in March 2011 and left my heart there. It just felt right. I think I connected to the city because I did Edinburgh on my own. At that point during my spring break, I was traveling with four boys who were eager to experience the Scottish nightlife. Since I was more curious about the cultural and historical aspects of the city, I got up early and spent my time there exploring solo. I loved it – as evidenced by my enthusiastic trip report.
The city has such a fantastic literary history and is home to an international book festival each August. Recently, a mystery artist left sculptures made of books in a number of bookstores around the city – read an NPR blog’s account of the saga of the library phantom.
Anyway, I’m planning on going back to Edinburgh during my travels this summer, but I don’t think I’ll be able to swing the $6,000 registration fee for TED Global at the end of June 2012. That particular trip will have to wait a few years.