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Notes from TEDxAustin 2012

This past Saturday, I attended the annual TEDxAustin 2012 conference, and while I was initially put off by the application process (it's pretty rare in my book to curate an audience), I was BLOWN AWAY by the bold ideas and positive energy that surrounded me. TED is the exclusive organization that celebrates "Ideas Worth Spreading", whose viral videos understandably set my expectations high for this regional event. Adding to the mystery, TEDxAustin chooses not to reveal its speakers until the day of, so I literally had no idea what to expect. Since I filled out the application and moved on, I had forgotten to tell my friends, and so found myself at the event not knowing anybody, forced to make new friends, realizing later that this was all part of their master plan. The funny thing is that the very first person I met once had (our) Ted look at her property for a potential project several years back!   As I recap the conference, I realize the descriptions will come off as trite, but believe me, if you are looking for a pep rally for the soul, this is the place. The fourteen speakers were masterful testimonials of courage over adversity, calls to action, and stories of passion and palpable humanity. Under this year's theme of "Beyond Measure", of which I narrowly interpreted as technology's impact on our collective lives, over the course of the day I realized that the theme encompasses everything that is immeasurable and undefinable in our lives, like memory, enchantment, and love. While there were plenty of ruminations on how today's technology is pushing the limits of how we understand each other, through extensive data mining, crowdsourcing, and the potential of gps mapping, it was refreshing to hear that our basic needs of love and human connection are still the core of our modern existence, and that globalization and the free culture of the internet are the conduits that make the connection now easier than ever. With the internet, the world is literally at your fingertips, and if you have an idea, you can make it a reality if you just commit to it.   About halfway through the day, they showed a clip of an interview with a younger Steve Jobs that I think captures the spirit of the conference well:   "When you grow up, you tend to get told that the world is the way it is, and your life is just to live your life inside the world. Try not to bash into the walls too much. Try to have a nice family life. Have fun, save a little money. That's a very limited life. Life can be much broader, once you discover one simple fact, and that is everything around that you call life was made up by people who were no smarter than you. And you can change it. You can influence it. You can build your own things that other people can use. Once you learn that, you'll never be the same again."   In addition to the live presentations, there were local musicians, a dance performance, and screenings of a few relevant TED Talks from other conferences, one of which blew. my. mind. Watch below: If we can all begin to think with this level of uninhibited imagination, there would be no limits.   The TEDxAustin Team is currently working on posting the presentations online, my personal favorite speakers were David R Dow and Penny de los Santos.
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