In the past two months, I've written a couple of articles on a conference coming to Penn State University Park on Sunday, Oct. 10, called TEDxPSU. The line-up of speakers was just announced, actually. There will be an article about it in Thursday's paper.
TEDxPSU is a smaller-scale version of a TED conference that has been planned by individuals associated with Penn State on a volunteer basis. TED is a non-profit organization known for the technology, entertainment and art design conferences it holds all over the world.
I've been watching TED clips on the organization's website for more than a year now, and I dig the concept. They have some genuinely interesting people talk about all kinds of genuinely interesting things, usually in an entertaining way. TED videotapes most of these talks at the conferences and puts them on the website, where you can view them for free.
In layman's terms, TED talks are like YouTube clips that not only entertain, but also educate.
The best thing about the TED speeches is that none of them are longer than 18 minutes in length. That means you can watch almost three TED talks on your computer for free in a time span that just barely eclipses the time you would spend in a 50 minute college class (it probably evens out if you factor in a commute or walking time), which generally isn't free unless you're really good at sports or a member of Mensa International. (TED curator Chris Anderson said the 18-minute length is because it's similar to the length of a coffee break.) These three talks can be about virtually any three separate topics you can think of, instead of listening to your professor going the distance discussing something about rocks (I never got too into geology).
Actually, you could even take your laptop into class, and if the settings are right (meaning it's a large lecture-style class on a subject you don't care about), you could put your earbuds in and watch some TED videos. I bet you'd come out with more knowledge than if you'd sat through class daydreaming and texting (that's officially a callback to my last blog entry) but I can't really tell you to do something like this because the knowledge you will obtain probably won't help you on your next exam.
You can go to the TEDxPSU website now to register to attend the conference, which will be an all-day event held at Schwab Auditorium. The volunteers who set it up are also trying to get "watch party" events together to stream the talks at commonwealth campuses (and hopefully Penn State Altoona takes part).
So, if you're bored sometime in the near future (Tosh.0 doesn't come on until 10:30 p.m., you know), check out the website. If you like what you see, think about checking out the event. The best part is, you don't have to miss any of the Steelers game if you do go, because it's the team's bye week.
Here are a few of my favorite TED talks:
>Malcolm Gladwell, the journalist who wrote Blink and The Tipping Point and has arguably the coolest haircut of all time, talks about spaghetti sauce.
>Comedian John Hodgman, who you may have seen on The Daily Show, rambles about aliens and stuff.
>The late John Wooden talks about success, something he had more knowledge of than I do Star Wars trivia.
>The late Randy Pausch, being courageous and inspirational, when he was knowingly dying of cancer. Somehow this one got on the website, even though it's more than an hour long. Just thought I'd warn you, because once you start you won't be able to stop.
>British author Ken Robinson gives an awesome speech on education and creativity.