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Tickled by Ted



Published: Sun, January 19, 2014 @ 12:00 a.m.

By Todd Franko (Contact)


On our many weekend road trips, the sounds of Avett Brothers, Springsteen and Langhorne Slim are apt to fill the car.

And you’re likely to also hear NPR’s “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me” or “All Things Considered.”

But over the last six months or so, you’d be just as likely to hear playlists like these:

“Moral behavior in animals.”

“The kill decision shouldn’t belong to a robot.”

”Extreme wingsuit flying.”

My sons picked some of the titles.

It’s not odd. It’s Ted.

I got turned on to Ted last year by Vindy Talk Radio guest Jacob Harver, who asked simply “Do you have Ted on your phone?”

I knew about Siri. Who the heck was Ted?

Ted is officially all-caps TED — a 26-year-old nonprofit group committed to its theme of “ideas worth spreading.” The title TED actually stands for technology, entertainment and design.

Its anchor events are annual conferences around the world that are retreats for out-of-the-box thinking through a curated roster of leaders, doers and dreamers who present their thoughts in 18 minutes or less. The legends of our lives are part of TED’s past, such as Bill Clinton, Bono, Jane Goodall, the Google guys and more.

It’s featured on National Public Radio; it’s online; it has an app for smartphones, which is how I use it on our drives to play through the car radio.

On its website, TED says of itself:

“TED is best thought of as a global community, welcoming people from every discipline and culture who seek a deeper understanding of the world.”

This Friday, a version of it comes to Youngstown when TEDx takes over Williamson College of Business Administration at Youngstown State University.

The event came together in less than a year, driven by a group led by Lori Shandor of Park Vista. She and a collection of others circulating out of the Mahoning Valley Young Professionals Club and other organizations have driven TEDx into a bona fide showcase for Youngstown — fielding a lineup of speakers that will include the founder of Priceline.com, Jeff Hoffman.

True to the TED culture, Hoffman is not a keynote speaker, but just one of 20 presenters, all of whom are considered equals on this day — all have an idea to share to make for a deeper society.

Shandor is proud of many aspects of the event, one of which is the local flavor of the speakers and the light they will shine on the Valley with their presentations.

The speaker lineup, in addition to Hoffman, is:

Ewelina Boczkowska, Cicilia Yudha, Leslie Brothers, Tony DeAscentis, Adam Earnheardt, Colonel Al Faber, Jim Fogarty, Kathleen Fox, Rob Gorham, Wil Harris, Michael Kovach, Dave Morgan, Amanda Powell, Steven Beverburg Reale, Tim Ryan, Dennis Shiraldi, Rose Shaffer, Brian Sinchak and Cori Todd.

When Shandor visited Vindy Talk Radio Thursday, she unveiled two aspects of TEDx that continue to build on its cool factor:

TEDx runs Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and all of it will be broadcast live on the TEDx website, which is tedxyoungstown.com.

For the 100 attendees (it’s a limited crowd by design, and it’s sold out), they will get a chance to wear and touch

Google Glass in the event’s Innovation Lab. Google Glass is a pair of eyeglasses that look like small, cool safety goggles — only with a single lens acting as a computer screen. It’s the Internet on your face. Google Glass is currently in the hands of a few thousand folks, testing them before they go to mass market. The TEDx crew is one of the testers. Shandor brought them to The Vindy, and we got to wear them.

Simply cool.

This technology (it’s not alone, with GlassUp unveiled as at least one competitor) is controversial. But as it develops, it stands to change everyday tech usage much like smartphones did just a few years ago.

TEDxYoungstown is such a homerun for the Valley, and not just any homerun, but a walkoff one at that.

Watch for our coverage this week from The Vindy, and digest all of this on tedxyoungstown.com.

Todd Franko is editor of The Vindicator. He likes emails about stories and our newspaper. Email him at tfranko@vindy.com. He blogs, too, on vindy.com. Tweet him, too, at @tfranko.


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