Last Saturday I attended a TEDx conference. The “x” in TEDx stands for “an independently held TED event”. Basically a conference deemed cool enough by TED to bear its name. Wrocław’s TEDx theme was “Unleash Your Inner Hero” and the entire day of talks was divided into four sections: hero state of mind, superpowers, having a vision, and call to action, in this order exactly.
My first thought just after showing up at the event was “damn I’m old”. To me it seemed as though the sold out theater in which the talks took place was filled to brim with university youth. Those days have long waved bye-bye to me. Don’t get me wrong, I can totally hang with the kids, except that I can’t, cause when I wanted to talk to someone about using the practices discussed in a particular talk the kids around me had no idea what a day spent at a full time job felt like. Maybe that was just me. The truth is that going alone to an eight hour talk with multiple breaks and a long lunch feels like crap. Somehow I couldn’t catch the vibe, find people to talk to… so I just left and watched the rest on a live-feed web cast back home. Turns out I should have done that to begin with.
Out of 16 scheduled appearances two were a musical number, one was a magic show, and one was a no-show altogether. The conference started off with a bang; there was a young man talking about how his video game playing turned into a riddle website with millions of hits. His presentation was just on the edge of creepy while keeping you interested and wanting for more. His website screenshots gave me goosebumps but everything made sense when he explained why things were the way they were. It was cool.
Presentation fallowing that was given by a woman who really wanted you to draw out everything you did at work. To draw out your plans, your daily schedule, your tasks, draw draw draw! It was a great talk, I learned a lot and really wanted to try the stuff she spoke off back in the office…except for the fact that she had microphone trouble throughout her entire speech and that was pretty much all I remembered at the end. That productivity at work begins with properly mounting your ear-mounted microphone. Sorry.
I did buy a CD from a musician Joao de Sousa after he played and sang four songs, each in a different language: Portugese, Spanish, English, and Polish. There was a woman of Jewish descent talking of preserving history, there was a double amputee teenager who spoke how he was motivated by a complete stranger to become the youngest person to travel to both the North and the South Pole. That’s right, a Pole at the Pole! Geocaching, woman stereotype in the mass media, how to dream and make money off of magic tricks… it was all there.
I felt that there was no connection at all between the divided topic (hero state of mind, superpowers, etc.) and the talks given in that slot. At one point I got a little irritated of the guy giving a talk on “Being an Expert” when couldn’t properly say the word “expertise” in English and kept mispronouncing it so badly even the youth around me was whispering the correct pronunciation. It was an interesting talk, I just couldn’t get past the broken English it was given in. That is of course my own opinion.
Overall the conference was a good experience, I enjoyed hearing the things I heard and give mad props to all those who have the cajones to go up and talk about their stuff in front of hundreds of strangers. But I do feel there was something missing and I just can’t quite put my finger on what it was. Maybe it’s the fact that on TED.com I can play and listen to whatever talk I want and if I don’t like it I can simply close the window. Here, when I was sort of bored (along with everyone else) of a talk, you still had to sit through the rest of it.
Am I glad I went? Yes I am. Will I go again? If they have a web feed… probably not. But I did learn a thing or two, for that I believe the conference has served its purpose.