I had the great privilege of going to TEDx Vancouver this past weekend …
It was in UBC‘s Chan Centre, a great venue – although it’s hard to sit anywhere for 8 hours or so of lectures. But TED talks are generally awesome, and these did not disappoint.
(If you don’t know what TED is, stop everything, go here, and watch a few videos. Short form: Technology, Entertainment, Design.)
My favorite sessions:
Aaron Coret & Stephen Slen
After Aaron broke his neck snowboarding, they invented an airbag for snowboarders that saves lives and was used in the 2010 Winter Olympics opening ceremonies (yeah, I was in those opening ceremonies). Very cool, very courageous, very inspiring.
Wow. If you love language, you have to love Christopher. He loves the bard, Shakespeare, and does an amazing job explaining, no, demonstrating why.
The Canadian leader of the UN force in Rwanda during the genocide, who had his hands tied by UN rules, was forced to basically watch the atrocities, and wrote a book about it later: Shake Hands with the Devil.
Wow. Amazing data visualizations with the NY Times and other organizations.
Victor was announced as talking about 3-D. Turns out he was introducing the 3D rules he wrote in a letter to his unborn daughter:
I met such great people on my recent trip to Bucharest for eLiberatica 2009. There’s something about conferences and trips: you compress so much experience into so short a period of time that you feel like old friends with people you met just a few days before.
Here’s a few that I want to remember and stay in touch with …
Georg is passionate about free and open source software … and also passionate about good user experience. Totally unexpectedly, we completely connected, discussed software and life passionately and humorously … spent a lot of time together. It’s funny, but in the way we joked about each other and poked holes in each other’s ego, he kind of felt like a brother.
He’s the president of the Free Software Foundation Europe, a great speaker, and about as smart as they come (he was trained as a physicist and was planning to go into nanotechnology before being seduced by free software).
Anca Luca Anca is a software developer for Xwiki, a corporate collaboration company/community in Romania and around the world.
She’s wicked smart – working on a better online word processor/text editor than currently exists on the market – and is very definitely totally switched on. (I know something about the challenges about creating word processing capabilities in a browser, as I’ve done that for a past project. I’ll be very thankful not to have to do it again in the future!) She’s also extremely articulate, and I told her she should be on the panel of speakers for eLiberatica 2010.
Jeroen van Meeuwen Jeroen is a geeks’ geek. VP of the Fedora Linux association for Europe, the Middle East, and Asia, he coordinates a ton of open source development. He’s also very funny and personable … and definitely knows how to party. I’ve heard, however, that trying to out-drink a Finn is like trying to win a land war in Asia: don’t even bother … and I think Jeroen might have discovered this fact.
If you know open source software, you know Monty. He’s the co-creator of the MySQL database. He’s an extremely successful software developer as well as entrepreneur … but here’s the thing: he has no ego. Zero.
Or maybe I should say attitude. He’s got some programmer’s ego about technical stuff, although he’s always willing to listen to other viewpoints. But he’s got zero I’m-a-bigshot attitude, in spite of having created absolutely iconic software and successfully selling his company to Oracle.
David is the other half of the creation of MySQL, and he’s very similar to Monty in that he has absolutely no attitude … he’s a regular guy, approachable and easy to talk to.
He’s a fairly avid photographer – has 6 cameras – and was always taking shots of people from odd angles when least expected.
Oana is part of the Agora team, along with Anca, Marina, and Andreea, who took amazing care of the speakers at eLiberatica 2009, and made everything else in the conference run smoothly as well.
More than that, she’s a funny, patient person who accomplished the gargantuan task of teaching me a couple of dance steps when we all went out Saturday night. As I mentioned on Flickr, when I dance, women faint, strong men weep, and small children run away screaming … but I think I made a scrap of progress that night. Thanks!
Aside from having about the coolest first name you can get in Romania aside from Vlad, Romulus is the general manager of Agora Media, the company that puts on eLiberatica conference. He’s smart, engaged, and isn’t unwilling to have a little fun, too, which is important in a leader.
He’s also an amazing dancer, and told me that if I came for 10 eLiberatica’s, then I’d probably be pretty decent as well! I really appreciate the fact that he and the Agor team absolutely made the event an experience to remember for me, and I think all the other speakers as well. And he fed us like kings. Wow …
Danece is the “open source diva,” and she had an excellent, excellent talk on open source success stories in government and corporations.
She’s worked for just about everyone in tech … Sun, Microsoft, Apple, and other companies, and is currently with a start-up – a new experience for her. Funny and friendly!
Ismael is the kind of guy that you can meet for 30 seconds and be talking like you’ve known each other all your lives. He’s Spanish, and very definitely has a high-tempo Latin personality … passion, excitement, laughter, and lots and lots of hand talking!
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There were others as well … I’m thinking of 10 or so people that I met and chatted with during the after-conference party on Saturday night, whose name I either don’t know or can’t remember, and who I don’t have photos of. But they’re in my memory, fondly.
. . .
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Staying in touch is a hard thing to do across a continent. There’s Twitter, Flickr, Facebook, LinkedIn, and more …. but it’s not like face-to-face. Monty won’t be able to try to convince me to have some 60-proof jet fuel online, and Georg and I won’t be able to riff back and forth the way we did in person.
But I’m hoping to stay in touch, and meet each of these people and more in person again. Perhaps eLiberatica 2010?
It’s 2 AM in Bucharest and the dogs are barking in the distance.
I’m in town for eLiberatica, a conference on open source software, and I’ll be speakingtomorrow today, but I’m fully jet lagged and in spite of the fact that I was up and traveling for about 32 hours straight, my body has no desire for sleep. This is going to be interesting.
The hotel is an interesting mix of modern art/decor and 19th century eastern European. The spaciousness, funky color scheme, and contemporary furniture is the modern part; the unhappily combined lack of adequate A/C and window screens is the 19th century part. I’m not quite sure where the pirated stations on the 20″ CRT TV or the pulsating rhythms of the first-floor bar fit.
I came in at about 11 PM last night, was massively overcharged by an unscrupulous cab driver who expertly inferred my lack of local savoir faire, and took a brief stroll around midnight before coming up to fail miserably at the one task that matters right now: sleep.
At least the location is good – I’m about a block and a half from the Romanian Palace of the Parliament. Here’s a pic I’ve filched from Wikipedia:
And the neighborhood is intensely … interesting, from what I could tell of it during a late night stroll. Lots of graffiti, which makes you think a bit, but also lots of people including couples and women out late at night. Some amazingly interesting architecture – I can’t wait for a daytime photowalk. At the risk of over-generalizing from an insufficient sample size, I’m guessing turn-of-the-century Romanian design was not about minimalism.
Ah well, it’s now 2:39, according to my trusy iPhone connecting to RO Vodafone, and 6:39 “home time.” Time for another attempt at counting those bloody sheep.
A week ago or so I had the privilege of hearing Alama Powell speak at the ASCD conference in New Orleans.
She leads the America’s Promise Alliance, which is built on the research-supported premise that 5 things in kids lives make the difference between successful transition to adulthood, and various forms of failure. Those 5 things are:
A healthy start
Opportunities to help others
She listed some startling statistics:
there are 7000 kids dropping out of school each day in the US
there are 9 million kids without health insurance
kids who lack 3 of the 5 promises have twice the poverty rate and 8 times the incarceration rate versus kids who have all 5
She was a great speaker, and is a passionate woman – it was very enjoyable to hear her. She also happens to be the wife of Colin Powell
Just got a note from Janetti Chong, the community and content manager for O’Reilly’s web2.0 conference, that they are interesting in having me attending the event as a media partner … and are offering a free conference pass valued at $1500.
(I’m sure many, many other bloggers are also getting the opportunity.)
I have to say, I’m really tempted. San Fran is beautiful, it’s a short hop down the Pacific time zone, and the conference is guaranteed to absolutely rock … there’ll just be way too many smart cool people there to not be good.
Of course, it might mean missing yet another game with my ice hockey team. This may not go over too well.