Plugging into the TED conference @ your library
Princeton Public Library connects patrons to players
Posted Tue, 01/25/2011 - 10:28
Businesswoman Holly Landau was among the speakers who appeared live at the Princeton (N.J.) Public Library during the TEDx Women conference in December.
Logo for TEDxPrincetonLibrary simulcast
Princeton (N.J.) Public Library hosted a two-day TEDx event, December 7-8, 2010, while thousands of “Tedsters” simultaneously attended over 100 similarly organized events about women’s issues in cities as diverse as Geneva, Pittsburgh, and Dubai. TEDx events, spinoffs of the TED annual nonprofit conference whose mission is “ideas worth spreading” are free, independent, and highly scalable programming that many public libraries can license from TED at no cost.
Janie Hermann, director of programming for Princeton Public Library, bore witness to the excitement TED generates as well as its community-building properties; half the people who attended the last TEDxPrincetonLibrary event returned for the TEDWomen conference. “TED spreads ideas and changes the world. The Princeton Public Library is facilitating the building of a community by taking social media into the real world, face to face.”
The first day combined a live simulcast from the global TEDWomen conference in Washington, D.C. that explored how women and girls were reshaping the future; the simulcast was followed by five guest speakers onsite in Princeton who addressed the topic of “Women and Technology in the Age of Conversation.”
The simulcast from the Washington International Trade Center featured over 70 distinguished speakers who championed women’s issues and shared stories and performances with an audience of 700. Illustrating how women contribute to and lead society with an awareness and emotional capital that is valuable—albeit different—from that of men. The speakers’ conversations and music streamed into community rooms like the one at the Princeton library, as well as theaters, universities, and bistros on other continents.
Some of the 105 registered library users in Princeton also heard from speakers Jill Foster, founder of Live Your Talk; Katie DeVito and Hilary Morris, of the public relations companies that bear their names; Holly Landau, CEO and president of the team-building and training firm Landau Leadership; Melissa Klepacki, founder of the social media website PrincetonScoop; and Sarah Donner, musician, host, and founder of Princeton’s Indie Music Night.
In the tradition of TED, Donner entertained the audience—after all, the ‘E’ in TED stands for entertainment—by playing guitar and singing, transitioning them from the Welcome Dinner to the live presentation about women and technology. There were icebreakers and trivia about social media too, activities designed—the ‘D’ in TED stands for design—to cohere the group and build camaraderie.
Foster, whose firm helps women negotiate the disconnect between their digital and corporeal lives, relies on the “real time” presence of social media such as Facebook and Twitter, as well as blogs and wikis—note, the T in TED stands for technology. She observed that many successful women who have no problem finding their “voices” online often fail to communicate their knowledge and confidence in person.
The evening closed with a “lightning speaker round” facilitated by Foster and Princeton Public Library’s Janie Hermann. Audience members were given five minutes to share personal stories about technology’s impact on their professional lives. “So much of TED revolves around not only sharing ideas but building community around them,” said Foster, “and the TEDWomen and TEDxPrincetonLibrary events lived up to all of that. The impact of speaking in public was on full display.”
The second day of TEDx at Princeton Public Library repeated the use of a simulcast from the TEDWomen conference, which included a surprise appearance by an expert who has contributed many ideas of import to women: Hillary Rodham Clinton.
GABRIELLA RADUJKO is a librarian and poet who writes about culture in the New York/metro area.