TED time in Btown

It’s the TED Talk people are still talking about.

Just over five years ago, at the annual Technology, Entertainment and Design conference in Monterey, Calif., IU Bloomington neuroanatomist Jill Bolte Taylor delivered an 18-minute presentation about her personal experience with a massive stroke, which she suffered in 1996 at age 37. In breathtaking detail, Taylor described how she felt her brain functions slip away the morning of her stroke and how this experience led to fascinating insights into the workings of the brain, its capacity for recovery and how it connects us to the world and to one another.

Taylor’s presentation is the second-most watched TED Talk on the Web, with more than 10.6 million views, and Taylor, named one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world in 2008, continues to share her remarkable story with such high-profile interviewers as Charlie Rose and Oprah Winfrey.

The massive popularity of talks like Taylor’s has transformed TED into one of the year’s most highly anticipated happenings and spawned thousands of TED-like, independently organized events across the world, known as TEDx events. By the end of 2012, more than 16,000 talks had been given at more than 5,000 TEDx events in 1,200 cities and 133 countries. More than 20,000 TEDx talks are available for viewing online, and those videos have been viewed more than 78.5 million times.

Not surprisingly, one of those TEDx events takes place right here in Btown and with the support of IU Bloomington, a flagship sponsor. This year’s second-annual TEDxBloomington event, March 22 at the Buskirk-Chumley Theatre, features a particularly strong IU connection, with a significant number of scheduled speakers hailing from the university community.

You can view the entire line-up online, but some of the speakers include:

  • Katy Bӧrner, Victor H. Yngve Professor of Information Science at the School of Library and Information Science and founding director of the Cyberinfrastructure for Network Science Center at IU
  • Cameray Boyden, nonprofit management student at IU Bloomington and founder of the West Indianapolis Peace Park, a community garden honoring loved ones who lost their lives to drugs or violence
  • Robert Einterz, director of IU’s Center for Global Health and co-founder of the IU-Moi University, Kenya, partnership
  • Debby Herbenick, research scientist at the IU School of Public Health-Bloomington and co-director of the Center for Sexual Health Promotion
  • Laurie Burns McRobbie, IU first lady, faculty member in the IU School of Informatics and Computing, founder and chair of the advisory committee for ServeIT
  • Darryl Neher, senior lecturer of business communication at the IU Kelley School of Business
  • Larry Singell, executive dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at IU Bloomington
  • Sarah Smith-Robbins, host of TEDxBloomington, director of emerging technologies at Kelley Executive Partners and faculty member at the IU Kelley School of Business
  • Emily Ward, assistant director at IU Campus Recreational Sports
  • Brad Wheeler, IU vice president for information technology and CIO

The IU contingent will join a variety of other speakers from the local community as well as presenters from Chicago, Tampa, New York City and Silicon Valley, including Hoosier native Ryan Germick, leader of the team of artists behind Google’s ever-changing homepage logos, and Drew Ramsey, doctor and co-author of “The Happiness Diet.” Together, they’ll deliver their own twist on this year’s TEDxBloomington theme, “Jump In,” and how they’ve developed ideas to affect the world around them.

“For Bloomington, it’s a really big deal to be able to host a TEDx event, and we are extremely pleased to have so many speakers from IU, which is the heart of our community and the reason why so many of us are here,” says Luci Englert McKean, curator of TEDxBloomington and longtime Btown resident. “We have also consciously created a program that includes inspiring people from the far reaches of the country, all of whom were chosen with the concept in mind of taking action, moving things forward and changing the world for the better.”

This year’s event will once again be live-streamed online, McKean adds, giving those around the nation and world who tune in a glimpse of the breadth and depth of creative ideas that define IU and the surrounding community.

Katy Borner

Katy Borner

In a new twist to this year’s TEDxBloomington, and thanks to a data-mapping project led by IU Bloomington information visualization expert Katy Bӧrner, those who attend the event in person will be able to easily identify other attendees with whom they might choose to interact based on common interests.

What remains to be seen is whether one of this year’s talks will take off like Jill Bolte-Taylor’s did several years ago. With more than 20,000 TEDx talks and counting, the odds aren’t good, McKean says, but they also aren’t insurmountable. In fact, two of the talks from the inaugural TEDxBloomington event (by Charlie Todd and Shawn Achor) were promoted from TEDxBloomington to TED.com. Together, the two talks have reached nearly 5.25 million people.

Ready to “jump in” with the millions of others who have embraced the TED experience? Go here for more information on TEDxBloomington or check out the conversation on Facebook and Twitter.

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