TEDxBuffalo 2011: The FAQ

Pete Herr, testing out the stage

I have no idea what TEDxBuffalo is. Can you give it to me in three sentences?

TED is a global conference and successful web video series, where speakers from lots of different professions and passions have 18 minutes each to promote “Ideas Worth Spreading.” TEDx events are TED-licensed, independent, generally smaller-scale versions of TED conferences, but with the same basic purpose and ground rules. TEDxBuffalo is the first of those “mini-TEDs” to launch in Buffalo, NY.

Yeah, but I’ve never heard of TED.

You might have without knowing it, actually–videos from TED’s conferences, and TEDx events, have spread around the web and YouTube in particular, and in the type of email forwards with “Amazing!” in the subject. But to get you up to speed: TED is where you could see Al Gore in 2006 previewing his message on climate change, soon to arrive in the documentary hit An Inconvenient Truth. It’s where you could watch Bill Gates release mosquitoes on his audience to make a point about malaria prevention. And it’s where acclaimed British chef Jamie Oliver made a wish to teach more children about food, which he’s been doing ever since.

Who’s speaking at TEDxBuffalo?

These fine folks, whom you can learn more about by clicking on their names. They come from a variety of professions, organizations, and interests, and we’re really lucky to have them sharing their ideas.

Well, cool! Where can I buy a ticket for the Buffalo TEDx event?

The TED-granted license for TEDxBuffalo prevents us from inviting more than 100 people to attend our event, and charging for tickets is strongly discouraged. So we’ve tried to pick out around 100 people that we think will really get something out of the day’s presentations, and who will benefit from, and hopefully act on, the ideas that come out of it.

Huh. So how did you choose who was invited to TEDxBuffalo?

I know, right? It’s a tough thing when you can only invite 100 people to an event that aims to hit so many different topics and ideas. And many organizers were averse to the apply-and-accept process, because of the negative nature of turning perhaps hundreds of people down, as well as experiences from an earlier attempt at a TEDx event in Buffalo.

So we tried to pick people that were, in the style of Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point, mavens, connectors, or salespeople. We also had to accept the reality of fitting an all-day conference on a Tuesday into busy schedules. Expect to see a different, and probably improved, attendance process next year.

Note, though, that we’re giving away some tickets in a contest, and some of our friends and sponsors might have a few tickets to spare, too. Get the jump on it by following our Facebook or Twitter accounts, or watch this site’s blog.

So 100 or so people get to hear these ideas, but the rest of us can’t?

No way. We’re going to stream our event live on the web, as it happens, on Oct. 11, and you can watch it by heading to our web site from almost any browser (iPad/smartphone nerds: we’re streaming through Ustream, so grab an app to watch it almost anywhere). If you’re working that day and your boss isn’t so hip, or if you otherwise miss the show, don’t worry–all the speakers and presenters from this event will be up on our web site semi-soon after the event, and all our videos will be delivered to TED itself for archiving (and consideration for wider posting and exposure).

Shorter version: The only difference between you and an official TEDxBuffalo attendee is that attendees get a free tote bag, a free taco or pork sandwich, a more high-definition view of the stage, and the chance to meet their (fairly cool) fellow attendees.

What if I want to get together with a small group and watch the live stream?

That would be entirely acceptable, and awesome. In fact, we’ve set up “Satellite Parties” at four locations around Buffalo, where you’ll have a screen-and-projector setup, a seat, likely a desk if you need to work, some snacks, and possibly a few TEDx goodies:

  • Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus: In the Thomas R. Beecher Innovation Center, 640 Ellicott St., Buffalo, NY, on the fourth-floor Vera View Conference Room (Details and Facebook RSVP)
  • Main Washington Exchange: at 523 Main St., in the second-floor coworking space. (Details and Facebook RSVP)
  • Sugar City: Collaborative arts space, 19 Wadsworth St., Buffalo, NY. (Web page).
  • University at Buffalo Honors College: In 109 Capen Hall, open to all students. (Web post).

I want to catch (Speaker X) more than anything. When can I see them on the live stream?

We’ve got our full schedule up. Expect a few shifts and changes, as with any live event, but that’s the basic layout for the day.

Wait, back up–Tacos? Pork sandwiches?

Yep. Lunch is being served in tandem by Lloyd Taco Truck & Catering and the Whole Hog Food Truck. They are awesome businesses that are trying something new in Buffalo, and everyone should try them both, at least once.

Who’s paying for this? Who put this together?

TEDxBuffalo is the product of a group of dedicated volunteers, some very kind sponsors, and speakers and performers willing to put themselves out there.

If I did get an invite to TEDxBuffalo, where do I go, and where do I park?

We’ve got parking details, directions, and other details on our when/where page.

How can I get involved in TEDxBuffalo 2012?

Stay tuned. The volunteers are going to take a much-needed break after Oct. 11, but we’ll start the early steps of organizing 2012 before 2012.