This year I had the good fortune to attend two local TEDx conferences. TEDxRochester and TEDxFlourCity. Both events were outstanding and well organized. I walked away impressed by the great people and ideas that Rochester has to offer.
If you are unfamiliar with TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design) and the concept of TED it’s well worth your time to explore the TED website. I am constantly learning and inspired by the great speakers that I have found on their website.
Saturday, June 9th, was TEDxFlourCity at the Rochester Academy of Medicine in Rochester, NY. There was a fantastic offering of speakers. It was well planned and organized. The host, Matthew Bukowski, was entertaining and funny. The food was delicious and eclectic, the venue was homey and comfortable.
I could spend time evaluating and summarizing the speakers, but my colleague Amy Bonner (@artwithmsb) did an excellent job of that already in a blog post (TEDxFlourCity). So, I am going to focus on something that I experienced at TEDxFlourCity that was unexpected.
I was alone when I picked my seat in the small auditorium. I sat close to the wall so I could get a good view of the stage. The first speaker, Dan Tylee, used bread as a cultural metaphor for connecting with others. I thought this was a great way to start the conference. He even hid bread in small bags under the seats in the auditorium, a sort of Oprah moment. The idea was to introduce yourself to the people seated around you and “break bread” with them. It was a nice ice breaker. So, being a twitter head, I tweeted:
“#tedxflourcity Bread as a metaphor for cultural diversity.”
Then I turned around and “broke bread” with the people sitting around me. The person sitting directly behind me introduced herself as Alicia (@YogAlicia3). The next thing out of her mouth was “are you tweeting”, which I was. She was also live tweeting the conference. Her first tweet was in response to the standard “please turn off your cell phones” request.
“#tedxflourcity Put phones away? Disagree… I promise to keep it quiet, but am planning to stay on Twitter. :)”
So, needless to say we hit if off. We live tweeted the entire day and shared in a conversation with other attendees and people who were unable to attend but were following the conference via the hashtag “#tedxflourcity”.
At one of the breaks, Alicia was asked by the organizers of TEDxChemugRiver in Corning, NY, if we would be willing to attend their conference in November to help with the live twitter stream.
Since then, I have continued to share articles and blog posts with Alicia. I am also following several of the presenters and attendees from the conference. For me the true power of social media and twitter comes from the connections you can make. It can turn a conference with 100 or more people into a personal conversation. Ideas can be shared, connections can be made and conversations can continue in ways that just weren’t possible before.
I have referred back to #TEDxFlourCity several times after the conference. I go there to reflect on the day, to look up information about the speakers, to write this post… The entire conference has been cataloged for anyone who wants to learn about it.
All in all it was a great day! Did I mention that Twitter rocks?