I had the pleasure last month of participating in two regional Ignite events. One of them had me on stage, grappling with the surprisingly stressful constraints of the automatically advancing 20 slides. In the other, I got to be a proud papa rooting on my oldest son as he took his turn on stage.
“Getting Along with our Robot Overlords: How to Approach Design of Human-Robot Interaction”
“The Stuff in My Utility Belt”
Ignites are great opportunities for members of a community to gather and share their passions. The format—20 slides, automatically advancing every 15 seconds for a total of 5 minutes—is short enough to lower the barrier to participation (it isn’t a lecture) and structured enough to level the playing field (everyone has the same constraint to work with). Usually, the night ends with the audience buoyed by the energy the event brings and thinking about something new.
An hour north, Indy had its first Ignite event with a dozen speakers on stage at the Fringe Theatre. I had some logistical issues getting from Bloomington to the site after class at IU, running into a lot of construction as I tried to find the place.
Smaller Indiana, the community project that organized the event, arranged to have the Ignite Indianapolis talks video taped and just released them online. Because I was so stressed about my own talk, the first flight of talks was a blur. I’ve enjoyed going back and watching what I missed.
There were a few talks at Indy’s Fringe Theatre that stood out:
- Bob Mattax (Developer, Developer Town) on “Why Houses?“
- Brian Shafer (Co-owner, Walnut Valley Bison) on “Bison: Back from the Brink“
- Daniel Poynter on “Six Degrees of Awesome“
I was particularly grateful to Daniel Poynter, who started out the flight I was in. His talk was engaging and interesting enough to break me out of my personal funk and let me relax. (Daniel also made a reprise at the Bloomington event the following week, where the video clips he had didn’t play properly.) The clear favorite of the night, though, was Bob Mattax’s talk on why his company built houses instead of cubicles.
Ignite Bloomington 2
The quality of this local follow-up to the first event a year ago was outstanding. I learned about arduino, online brownie points, Robert’s rules of order, and law school. In a nice complement to Carter’s presentation was Joseph Baird’s talk on resourcefulness.
For Carter, Ignite marked his debut as a public speaker. We we first brought up the possibility of his participation, I assumed the best I could hope for was pre-recorded content—we were going to rig up a Mission:Impossible tape recorder to smoke at the end of the five minutes. He insisted on speaking live, though, and rehearsed in the days leading up to the event. It amazes me even now that a 10-year-old can get up and be as poised as he was. He’s ready for another.
Although there is no official video yet (it’s coming), I do have a couple bootlegs. Carter’s talk was a hit, but I also captured the poetry of Jenna McWilliams and Christian Briggs, two colleagues in a social media research group called SociaLens. J-McDub and Briggzay gave a beat critique of media and culture that’s worth a listen.
Thanks to organizers of both events for the chance to participate. I look forward to the follow-up ignites later this summer.Tags: community, Ignite, Ignite Bloomington, Ignite Indianapolis, kids, presentations, public speaking