TEDx spreads worthy ideas

One hundred of Ottawa’s most innovative individuals gathered at the Gladstone Theatre March 30 to attend TEDxCarletonU, a conference showcasing new ideas driving innovation at Carleton.

“Ideas are the building blocks of innovation,” said TEDxCarletonU organizer Luc Lalande.

TED is a non-profit organization that looks at “ideas worth spreading,” and broadcasts them to the world through the Internet, the original TED conference in California, and through independently run TEDx events like the one at the Gladstone.

The conference showcased five Carleton professors Lalande selected.

“I was looking for researchers who were pushing the boundaries of research and coming up with interesting ideas,” Lalande said. “I was also looking for people who wanted to take those ideas and do something with them.”

“Every TED event has a theme associated with it,” explained fourth-year Carleton computer science student Nicholas Osborne, the event’s social media volunteer. “In our case, it’s change makers.”

Each presentation lasted 15 minutes, with topics ranging from architecture inspired by nature to how nanotechnology could be used to create smarter and more efficient fertilizers.

“In the world today there are people with good ideas all over the place,” said Jim Davies, one of the TEDx speakers and the director of the science of imagination laboratory at Carleton.

Davies spoke about how he and his students study imagination scientifically. 

“It seems like one of the most impenetrable parts of the world,” Davies said, but explained by using psychological tests and new computer imagination software it is possible.

“Often lecture series are directed towards a certain audience. TED is more for the lay person and in a language that everyone can understand,” Davies said.

Another crowd favourite was a presentation by music composition professor Jesse Stewart, whose presentation included the use of the speech podium as a musical instrument.

“My main message was that creativity belongs to everyone and we can find opportunities to think and act creatively in our daily lives in the ways that we engage with the things around us,” Stewart said.

“I think it is important for people to take opportunities to expand their worldview and TEDx events, in my experience anyways, offer that opportunity,” Stewart said.

The audience capacity of the conference was restricted to 100 attendees who were either nominated or selected based on application.

“These are people who are in the community actively doing things to support innovation,” Lalande said. “They could be entrepreneurs or people doing creative work in a variety of ways.”

Facilitators invited participants to connect through social media, something that doesn’t happen at every lecture, Osborne said.

“Often, at events like this, the only face time you have is during an intermission or just after the event,” Lalande said. “With social media we now have a means of networking people prior, during and following the event.”

A high-definition recording of the event will soon be available on YouTube.

One comment

  • If TED is about “Ideas Worth Spreading”, then access to these talks should be a primary goal of the conference. It’s true that they put the videos online, but considering this is a university event, it should be open to all university students to attend. As someone who followed the Twitter accounts of those attending, the message being delivered sounded more like gloating than engaging. I wonder if the university contributed dollars and staff time, because I think it would ultimately be better served helping the students who keep the institution alive.

    I understand the 100 invitation limit isn’t the fault of the Carlton student and administration organizers, but rather a limit imposed by the TED Conference founders. This sort of elitism is prevalent throughout the entire conference. At the original conference in California, tickets cost around $6,000 and are virtually impossible to obtain. Next year’s show is completely sold out (possibly the one after that too) so even application isn’t going to get you in. Media as well are excluded, as the TED Conferences only allow for 15 press passes. In the end, the conference is pretty elitist.

    Were the students at Carlton University consulted about whether they agree with Carlton staff and money being contributed to an event they weren’t invited to?