TEDxAustin 2012: the next level
By Omar L. Gallaga | Monday, February 13, 2012, 02:52 PM
It’s rare, if not impossible, for a new Austin cultural event to arrive fully formed in its first year and get everything right. It’s even rarer for an event to go from good idea to an essential part of the city in just two years.
When TEDxAustin debuted in 2010, it broke several rules for new, unproven events; the speaker’s list wasn’t released in advance, attendance was by application and invitation only, and it wasn’t free.
But despite an uneven mix of local celebrities and live performance, it was well received. The 2011 edition, dubbed, “Right Now” was even better. The first year’s semi-hippie-dippy, stargazing vibe was replaced by a more focused set of speakers and spectacularly curated videos. It soared in spots despite one or two speakers who were more self-promotional than inspirational and one genuinely offensive clunker of a presentation. Overall, it was very good.
The 2012 TEDxAustin, “Beyond Measure” was on Saturday at the Austin Music Hall and it took the annual event to another level. The presentations were, as a whole, more consistently surprising and inspiring, the lunch segment (carefully crafted restaurant areas instead of last year’s boxed lunches) wowed and the video segments were even more mindblowing. The mix of speakers, live musical intro, dance performance, a lesson in mixing from DJ Spooky and even an end-of-the-day sing-along led by Conspirare’s Craig Hella Johnson, left many attendees (myself included) alternately tickled, teary-eyed and blown away.
TEDxAustin has found its voice and this year hit a high note that’ll be tough to top in 2013.
One of my favorite presenters was Luis von Ahn, the creator of the CAPTCHA system (which makes you type in words to make sure you’re not an automated bot) and how that system was repurposed to translate books. (Watch it below)