Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Ignite Boston 8

the hashtag for tonight's event is #gigbos
Busy day today with the semi-annual trek to Boston for an eye checkup at Mass Eye and Ear and then across the river to Microsoft NERD for Ignite Boston 8, the kickoff event for Global Ignite Week. Ignite is sort of like a Pecha Kucha night for geeks.

Topics were all over the map: pregnancy, wheatstalks, troll comments, augmented humanity, startups, social enterprise, beer ... Yup, a pretty eclectic program with themes sort of emerging as we went along.

For the record, here's the lineup:
  • Conception, Pregnancy, Labor, Delivery, and Infants (for Geeks), Jacob Buckley-Fortin
  • How Freestrapping Is Killing Our Start-Ups, Bobbie Carlton
  • Code for America: Education and Technology in Boston, Max Ogden
  • How to Start a Summer Camp, Katie Gradowski and Will Macfarlane
  • The Real "MobileMe" How Smartphones Are Enabling a World of "Augmented Humanity," Joseph Flaherty
  • Halftime Break
  • Social Media Science, Dan Zarrella
  • The Future of Search Is Context, Mark Watkins
  • Trolling for Data, Courtney Stanton
  • Compost Your Dishes: Better than Washing, Heather Gilmore 
  • Social Enterprise: What Works, What Doesn't, Why It Matters, and Why You Should Hate Oprah, Meaghan Cassidy 
  • Pure Imagination: How Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory Is Really An Anti-Drug Parable, TC Cheever
  • 5 Things You Didn't Know About Beer, Sarah Hastings

 It was a full house with a fun crowd. It was great to see former co-worker JD Doyle, Mass Innovation Nights' Bobbie Carlton, and some of the folks I follow on Twitter, as well as to meet new people. (OK, so no cousins were in evidence, but this ain't Maynard. :-)) It was a fun crowd. The pizza provided by O'Reilly Media was delicious and the plates were compostable.

quite a crowd

James Craig Burley (@burleyarch) captured the mood with his halftime tweet: 

"Halftime. This is like New England weather: if you don't care for a presentation, wait a few minutes! But they've all been good."

I agree they were all good. Several reached the level of "awesome". 
The talk that got me most ignited was Katie Gradowski on parts and crafts, projects for kids. I love the CSE idea -- a monthly box of craft, technology, and engineering projects for kids to make and do. At halftime I chatted with people about building things, taking things apart, and doing projects with my dad and brothers in ancient times and how so many of the great pioneers of computing got their start doing just that. It's bugged me for a long time that kids don't have the same opportunity to learn how to use tools and make stuff. It's inspiring to see kids making stuff.
Other talks I really enjoyed were:
Meaghan Cassidy on why social enterprise matters. The successful social enterprise is sustainable, profitable, and does the greatest good for the greatest number. Video of her talk is up on YouTube.
Max Ogden of CodeforAmerica on having augmented reality type outreach for public libraries. really cool concepts to make libraries more social and connected. Max Ogden's slides are up on Slideshare and video of his talk is on Vimeo.
TC Cheever on Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory (1971) as an anti-drug parable. Absolutely hilarious. Best laughs of the night.
Dan Zarrella's  proof that Facebook is The Jersey Shore.
Courtney Stanton's analysis of troll comments on her blog. Her slides were beautifully designed and her hair matched the color scheme.
crowd filling in plus nerds descending a staircase
A recurring theme in this blog has been the unexpected persistence of paper books. I didn't expect to touch on that theme at Ignite, but here it is. At the halftime break people mobbed the stack of free books from O'Reilly Media. 
free tech books from O'Reilly Media

I came away with DocBook 5: The Definitive Guide and REST in Practice.  By the end of the night there were a couple of books about Visual Basic left. Someone remarked how lonely they looked. I had to say "But VB is soooo 20th century."
that mob in the back by the window is the stampede for free books

And as part of my ongoing series of photos of people reading books (homage to Andre Kertesz), I got a nice shot of JD reading his free book takeaway.   Entrepreneurs read. That's how they become corporate rock stars. :-)
JD reading an O'Reilly book
ready to become the next corporate rock star

I love the view of Boston from NERD and am always looking for new ways to photograph it. So I'll close with my favorite photo of the night -- the view from NERD including reflections of nerds.


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