I spent all day yesterday hanging out with fellow TEDsters at the first TEDxEdmonton organized by the great folks at artScene Edmonton. It was a really superb event (even including a little technical difficulty and the tech table collapsing on the audience — oops!) with a great set of speakers, and I met a whole host of fascinating people based right here in Edmonton.
One of the highlights for me was the chance to listen to a talk from Cathy’s Book creator Sean Stewart about the new era of storytelling which he’s coined as the Transmedia Era. The whole idea of storytelling that spans across different medias and moves into the idea of storytelling-as-alternate-reality is really exciting to me. It was also really great to hear him talk about the idea of transmedia as being a social and participatory media, where storyteller and consumer blur together; he showed a slide of the book category of fanfiction.net and pointed to the half a million pieces of Harry Potter fanfiction stored there (including some of my own, which — not gonna lie — made me smile), remarking “most of the words written about Harry Potter have not been written by J.K. Rowling”. It’s great to hear professional authors encourage and delight in remix culture, and tell the room “art at this point is not about dictating to another person, it’s a dance… hold out your hand, and ask, do you want to play?”
I also really enjoyed Grant Skinner’s ambling talk about his own personal path to success and the juxtaposition of putting his talk back-to-back with Cameron Herold’s very different talk about entrepreneurship. Two different paths and stories and value sets, both as interesting as the other. I also chatted with Cameron Herold a bit at the after party about the TEDx event he went to in Vancouver and the gender mix of both events.
The thing that blew me away most of all was Andrew Hessel’s talk about open source biology and the parallels he drew between the way computers and tech evolved in geek’s basements and garages and how biology is doing the same now. I’m especially interested in watching his Pink Army Cooperative and how much success they have creating custom, personalized drugs to fight individual people’s cancer. The idea of a co-op drug company that doesn’t actually sell the drugs it produces, just hands them over to the individual they were custom built for, is a very cool idea with potentially huge implications.
You know what was the coolest part about TEDxEdmonton, though? That all the speakers were Edmonton-based or Edmonton-born. I love that the organizers found local talent to speak and carry the day, and I hope that policy continues into future Edmonton TED events.
All the Edmonton talks will be edited and put up on the internet, hopefully in the next week or so. Links will follow when they’re available!