Yesterday I attended the TEDxUSC event held at Bovard Auditorium at the University of Southern California. It was quite an experience and one I won’t soon forget. The event ran from 1:00PM in the afternoon until about 6:30PM to be followed by a reception at Town and Gown. The content of the talk was broken up into two sessions with a short break in between. Let’s see if I can hit some highlights.
The conference began with a bang. A musical opening by Qi Zhang on her organ was a prelude to a complete performance later in the program. Then out came Chris Anderson, who I later met during the break between sessions, to get us in the right mindset to explore this unique event. USC Provost C.L. Max Nikias talked to us about “intellectual friction” and how to benefit from it. Jane Poynter, of Biosphere 2 fame, discussed her work and her aspirations of putting plants on the moon and mars. Donal Manahan talked about the “Blue Revolution”, the idea that we can cultivate a sustainable food source from the ocean. I also enjoyed the talk by Paul Debevec on creating photorealistic digital actors and the technology behind it.
Before the break Salman Ahmad, lead of famous band Junoon, came out to sing to us and brought a suprise guest … Melissa Etheridge! They apparently met at Oslo and collaborated on a song called “Ring the Bells” that they sang for us.
After the break Kellee Santiago of thatgamecompany talked about how we communicate with the digital games in the 21st century. I was captivated by Markus Nordberg talking about the organization and personalities that were behind building the Large Hadron Colider at CERN. An even more amazing talk by Dave Logan followed about Tribal Leadership and how to leverage natural organization of groups. Qi Zhang came out and did the complete rendition of “The Love for Three Oranges”, a complete symphony piece, done solo on her Yamaha Electone organ. And Mark Humayun talked about restoring sight to the blind with artificial retina.
There were three short films, “Summer Storm”, “Abridged”, and “Breathe” that were all very good. Plus a special short done by a then student George Lucas, as a special treat. TEDxUSC also showed recordings of Juan Enriquez, Elizabeth Gilbert, Aimee Mullens, Natasha Tsakos, and Renny Gleason from the TED 2009 conference. The last two being premiers to the TEDxUSC community.
Afterwards I headed over to the reception with friends where I got to mingle with the TEDxUSC speakers. I played with art installations by Mindshare Labs and also saw a demo by the USC Institute for Creative Technologies.
The event was great. I tried by best to update my friends via my Twitter. It also opened my eyes to some new ideas and things to think about. I really hope they continue this type of program and bring it to other schools and institutions.