The Norman Transcript

January 25, 2014

TEDx talks tech, life

By Katherine Parker
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — Students and community leaders came together Friday to share ideas at TEDxOU at the University of Oklahoma.

“TEDx” is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark discussion and connection.

This year marked OU’s third TEDxOU event. The theme was “Hello World.” Attendees were encouraged to consider what they wanted to say to the world. Seventeen speakers from the Norman community and beyond presented short, inspiring talks to attendees in four sessions.

Speakers included: Session One — Philip Dow, James Simpson, Neal Walia, Jake Morgan and Nicole Jarvis; Session Two — Amyie Kao, Erin Engelke, Matthew Burch and David Ray; Session Three — Irvin Wagner, Matthias Nollert, Melanie Maguire and Kevin Carroll; and Session Four — Alex Reisner, Jonathan Stalling, Aslan Malecki and Akash Patel.

TEDxOU organizer said past events had led to new ventures, books and new classes at the university and told attendees to speak with each other and share ideas.

Philip Dow, an OU letters graduate and programmer, kicked off the event with a talk about programming and how it has and will change the world. Dow said the rules of programming really make one wonder at the messiness of the human experience. Dow also cautioned attendees on how technology changes society.

“We interact differently with technology than we act with each other,” he said. “There is a risk of treating each other like we do technology ... Technology shapes us and how we perceive and interact with the world. Let us think about how technology can add both richness to our lives and take it away.”

Nicole Jarvis was another TEDxOU speaker with a powerful message. Jarvis is a mother of twin boys and an ObGyn. She is also the founder of the Nicole Jarvis, MD, Parkinson’s Research Foundation Inc. Jarvis spoke of her experience finding out she had Parkinsons and how she has dealt with having an incurable disease.

Jarvis said she researched her disease, formed connections with those in the same situation as herself and found a purpose — fundraising for Parkinson’s research.

“We all face devastation in our lives. Education, connections, owning the situation and contributing can lead to a new sense of purpose,” she said.

Later, during Session Three, OU professor Irvin Wagner performed on the trombone with one shoe off and Kevin Carroll, author of “The Rules of the Red Rubber Ball,” had all attendees jump out of their seats, go outside and play foursquare.

Carroll said although play might not be able to solve every world problem, he had seen it have an impact on many things, such as gender roles and discrimination.

“A ball can change the world,” he said.

TED is a nonprofit organization devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. Started as a four-day conference in California in 1984, TED has grown to support world-changing ideas with multiple initiatives. At TED, the world’s leading thinkers and doers are asked to give 18-minute talks. The talks are then made available for free at TED.com.

TED speakers have included Bill Gates, Jane Goodall, Elizabeth Gilbert, Sir Richard Branson, Benoit Mandelbrot, Philippe Starck, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Isabel Allende and former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown. Two major TED events are hosted each year. The TED Conference takes place every spring in Long Beach, Calif. and TEDGlobal each summer in Edinburgh, Scotland.

For more information about TED conferences, visit ted.com/registration. To follow TED on Twitter, visit twitter.com/TEDTalks or to follow TED on Facebook, visit facebook.com/TED.

Katherine Parker

366-3541

kparker@normantranscript.com

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