08 December 2011

TEDX San Juan: Stale Cracker Or Artisan Bread?

As I write this, TEDx San Juan, first edition, is to start in 17 hours.

I have no idea who's speaking. Or what they'll talk about.

The only information I have is that the theme is "Bursting the Bubble," referring to My Brethren who are pushing the envelope, boricuas breaking new ground. Good. Marvelous. But to be blunt: so what?

Now for the two of you who don't know what the TED events are, they refer to a series of brief (10-20 minute) presentations on topics related to technology, education and design--TED. (Careful: the website is addicting to curious minds. The average statehooder will be bored.) The driving force behind the concept is to bring to light new ideas and have them create synergies. For that to happen, information must flow...so not sharing information defeats the whole purpose of TEDx.

Let Me point out something else: to be able to attend TEDx San Juan, you had to be selected. By who knows who based on who knows what. My feelings about this are best defined by quoting Marx: "I don't want to belong to a club that would have me as a member." What's the idea behind this? (And the Marx quoted was Groucho.)

If the purpose is to "create a better atmosphere/event," then it begs the question: Better for what? And for whose benefit? With no criteria/explanation/definition/reason/plausible excuse offered, then I think the only reason for this little exercise in pedantry is ego: the organizers want to exert a "zero-sum" level of control over an event that is meant to be the total antithesis of that (poor) posture.

More proof? No agenda yet, a "You can't prepare for this until we say you can" gambit.

Now maybe, as friend Kevin has pointed out, the idea is to enhance the event's appeal or manage expectations by using "surprise" as a marketing tool. I give these a 3 on a scale of 1-10 for marketing ideas, with 1 being tossing a dead cat on the salad bar. I don't buy these as good marketing, much less for a TEDx-caliber event. On the other hand, I've also been told that I shouldn't seek conspiracy where incompetence can be the answer.

I know two of the lead organizers of the event; one I have direct negative experiences with and the other I know only through e-mail exchanges. Of the one I know well, this petty power play seems quite in character, the kind of action a low-level bureaucrat would take in office politics. Given his background of several years in government, where his endeavors labeled him as nothing more than a stale cracker in an artisan bread convention, I can see where TEDx is shaping up to be a severe letdown.

(Clarification: The government of Puerto Rico is by no stretch anywhere near being as good or as productive as an artisan bread convention. I was using the analogy so I could write "stale cracker." My blog, My rules.)

So Jenius, if you're so down on the event, why are you going?

Because I could be wrong. I could be wrong that the agenda, when it is finally revealed, will be a flop, a collection of butt-buddies brought in to present a skewed shadow of "Bursting the Bubble" excellence. I could be wrong that the speakers chosen qualified more as "personal networking" for the Speaker Coordinator than as the antithetical proof that We don't need to live with a zero-sum mentality. I could be wrong that TEDx San Juan has a somewhat hand-picked audience solely/primarily in order to establish a power-base for one or more of the organizers. I could be wrong that I shouldn't have been "selected" to go (and buy a $20 ticket) over others I'm aware were told "You aren't worthy." I could be wrong that this event will fail to coalesce its enormous potential and become another in a long line of "what should have beens."

For those of you not deemed worthy and who believe that not sharing basic information is cool, you can tune into the live stream of the event.

And don't bother looking for @GilTheJenius tweets or live-blogging during the event. I'm not going as a reporter, though I can. I'm not going as a social media user, or even as a blogger: I'm going for My sake, to see if My vision of what's possible in Puerto Rico has been discovered by TEDx San Juan.

If their intent was to control the event to manage My expectations, they failed: I have My own. Always have, always will. Bottom line now is that the organizers have to prove to Me that they can live up to Mine.

Good luck.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

1 comment:

Prometeo said...

I like to watch TED videos. The are very instructive and I've learned a lot from them. Watching a single presentation is not the same as sitting there all day listening to all of them, my attention span tends to be short. I hope you enjoy it.