TEDxWaterloo 2011

This week’s been buried in work, but I’m getting more and more excited for TEDxWaterloo this coming week. There’s some great speakers this year, including my friend TJ. I thought I’d spend today talking about last year’s TEDx, and how it changed the way I thought about things.

I applied pretty close to the deadline last year, because I’d just found out it was happening. I wasn’t really on Twitter, and didn’t hear about these kinds of things. I had a kind of abstract desire to be more involved in my community, and had been rethinking my priorities after some workshops at the university about life outside of academia. On my application, I said that it was the kind of thing I should have been doing six years ago, but I hadn’t figured it out then, so I was spending a lot of time playing catchup. I went there knowing no one who would be there and nothing about the structure, determined to meet new people and learn new things. I even got some business cards, so that I’d have something to leave with people, and could build better relationships. I brought over two hundred of them, but only gave out about twenty. Everyone else seemed to know each other, and I felt like the odd man out in a lot of cases, but whenever I spoke with someone they were warm, engaging, and incredibly interested in a lot of the things I was interested in. Over the course of the day, I started to learn how to talk with people in that setting, and how to focus on the things we had in common, rather than imagining the things we didn’t. I was amazed by how safe the space felt, a place where you could speak your mind without a worry.

The talks were amazing. We learned about new technologies, changing ideas, and were inspired by stories by marathon swimmers, teenage sailors, and astronauts. I remember sitting in the audience listening to Roberta Bondar and thinking about how amazing she was, when something just hit me. The whole point of TED is that we can do amazing things. Why would I settle for anything less? I realized that being around all of these people who were doing great things, makers, photographers, information architects and a hundred other professions made me feel mediocre by comparison. It wasn’t some distinction of class, or the fact that I was still a student, but that I felt mediocre by comparison, and I was going to continue to feel that way until I decided to stop. I couldn’t guarantee greatness, but I could do things I was passionate about and get better at the things I love doing. Over the past year I’ve written about philosophy and gaming, I’ve started great projects and made dozens of new friends (and I mean friends, not people I’ve added to my network). I spoke about juggling at Ignite, did my first live music performance, and am blazing my way through graduate school.

When TEDx applications came around this year, I applied again, and told the truth. I told them that last year I was the shy person in the corner, trying to figure out what all these other people were about. This time, I’ve got that figured. I want to find the quiet people in the corner, standing off from the crowds of chatting people, and I want to talk with them. I want to find out what they’re passionate about, I want to help them make it a reality. I want to invite them into the wonderful and supportive community that I found at TEDx and in KW, because I think they can do something amazing.

This week’s TPK brings you the first Setting Specifics post, Yours is to Reason Why, as well as a wiki update about an up and coming mages’ guild in Temir, the Therengrad Spellbinders’ Ring. Concept Crucible bridges the gap on Wednesday, talking about what games can teach us about real life problems, and yesterday’s lesson in logic was the hypothetical syllogism, with a guest argument from Rush Limbaugh.

Paper Progress:

  • Obligations of Authenticity in Social Media: Compiling Reading List
  • Power Relations and Ethics in Multi-level Games: Compiling Reading List
  • Applied Stakeholder Ethics: Compiling Reading List

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