Thursday, April 16, 2009

Ignite Bloomington Recap (4-16-2009)

Ignite is a series of events sponsored by O'Reilly, the people that bring us the wonderful tech books with the animals on the cover. The idea behind it is simple: you have 5 minutes, 15 seconds per slide. There have been events in cities like Seattle, Portland, Paris, NYC, and tonight, Bloomington hosted its Ignite event at the Convention Center (the same place where the Chocolate Festival is held). As a loyal Bloomingtonian, I was confident my town would represent itself well, and it did. Here's a quick recap.

1. Scotch Whisky by Jenn Hileman

Jenn gave the audience an outline on the history of Scotch Whisky, the varieties, the various regions where it's produced, and recommendations on how best to enjoy it.

2. My 12-Step Recovery from Corporate Communications by Christian Briggs

Christian recounted the sordid story of his slide into Corporate Communications, from gateway drugs like Jack Welch's books, to harder stuff by Goebbels and Frederick Winslow Taylor. Eventually he came to realize he had a problem and needed to let go and let God, or let Twitter, in this case.

3. Kshitiz Anand on Research Strategy: Design For Social Impact

Kshitiz shared the lessons he learned from research in rural India. The slides were pictures of people from rural India and were the most interesting slides of the show, as they were the least 'Powerpointy'.

4. Mark Krenz on Bloomingpedia

Mark's presentation was both an introduction to Bloomingpedia and a call to action. Mark talked about Bloomingpedia's growth and success so far, and invited all in attendance to register for accounts and contribute by adding or editing articles, and adding more photographs.

(5 minute break for snacks, beer, whatever)

5. Kevin Makice on Mashups

Kevin calls on local government, newspapers, and other sources of data to set that data free, that it may be mashed up, sliced and diced, visualized and analyzed. Also, June is 'Mashup Month', and again the audience was called upon to act: to go forth and create amazing mashups that reveal interesting facts about our town and community.

6. Tall Steve Volan - 'What have you got to say for yourself?'

Steve presented, in rhyme, an idea for a new athletic event: the Nonathlon. Competitors make 9 speeches, each 3 minutes in length, to an audience of at least 3. The speeches are speeches any human being leading a full life will be called upon to give at some point: a toast, a eulogy, a song, a poem, several others I can't remember at this time, and if I were more clever, this section would rhyme.

7. Graffiti, by a guy from Sproutbox

He is not a graffiti artist, but he loves the art form. Lots of people love graffiti, aka the fun crime. He gave us a brief history going back to hieroglyphics, explained 'Kilroy' of 'Kilroy was here' worked in bomb QA during WWII (Kilroy was here = this town was bombed). In an entertaining audience participation bit, he invited us to decipher several tags - almost nobody could. Sproutbox had a really nice tag designed by a local artist.

8. Using technology for Social Justice by Geoff

Another presentation that both informed and called the interested to action: Geoff proposes using recycled computers and free software (Ubuntu Studio) to build a media lab in Detroit. This will happen over 3 days as part of the 'Allied Media Conference' in July. He also gave examples of effective uses of technology in the interest of Social Justice like, a site focusing on immigration rights and cleaner air and space.

9. Trotzke of Sproutbox on 'Bursting the Bubble'

Trotzke has founded 2 startups at times coinciding with the economy going into the toilet. He draws inspiration from the words of the Wilson Phillips hit 'Hold On' - 'thingsll go your way if you hold on for one more day'. He believes it's a great time to start a startup (there is a lot of great talent available) and 'called bullshit' on the concept of non-paying customers (it needed to be called bullshit on - Trotzke classifies the non-payers as 'prospects' - a more accurate label).

That was that for the official program. Several really great O'Reilly books were given away, including Twitter API: Up and Running by Bloomington's own Kevin Makice (also a presenter as alert readers will remember). Unfortunately, none of the books were given away to ME. An informal question and answer session followed.

All in all, the event was a success. 'Ignite' is a great concept - if it visits your town, check it out.