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November 11 2011

Confessions of a not-so-public speaker

Empty Stage by Max Wolfe, on Flickr One of Web 2.0 Summit 2011's memorable moments came early, when program chair John Battelle was gently but earnestly admonished by anthropologist Genevieve Bell for not having more women on stage that day. Cue lots of applause from the audience. John rejoined that he wouldn't discuss the number of women who had turned him down.

Part of my job here at O'Reilly is to encourage women, people of color, and other folks often underrepresented at tech conferences to be speakers at our events. I can really empathize with John: I've been turned down a lot, too. During that moment at Web 2.0 Summit, I wondered how many women applauding Genevieve's comment are regular tech conference speakers themselves. It's one thing to say we need role models and a very different thing to actually be one.

And that's exactly the intersection I find myself standing in now.

I worked in fundraising for many years, and it wasn't until I became a donor myself that I truly understood how to overcome the challenges of getting people to open their wallets — not to mention understand how good it feels to give to an important cause. Similarly, I know I won't be able to be a true agent for diversity in our speaker rosters until I step up and become a public speaker myself.

You'd think it'd be easier being in the conference organizing biz, but for me, it's the opposite. The quality of speakers I usually see — engaging, humorous, knowledgeable, and at one with their slide decks — can be a bit intimidating. While I don't think I'll be a speaker at Web 2.0 Summit any time soon, the biggest issue is just taking those first steps toward the speaker side of the street.

So, I've resolved to start my speaking journey. Some people are naturals on stage, and others, like me, need some encouragement. Make that a lot of encouragement. I've been fortunate to have two accomplished speakers cheering me on: entrepreneur and writer Jessica Faye Carter and investment book author Cathleen Rittereiser. They're helping me put together an action plan for becoming a public speaker.

In the hopes that it inspires more than just me, I'd like to share their excellent advice more broadly — below you'll find five tips for launching your own public speaking effort.

Join an online speaking organizationLinkedIn and MeetUp are rife with speaking groups; SpeakerMatch and Speakerfile are two fairly new social networking sites.

Join a speaking group in real lifeToastmasters and National Speakers Association (NSA) are two of the largest and most active. NSA's online magazine has great resources for speakers.

Read — Dale Carnegie's "The Quick and Easy Way to Effective Speaking" still gets high marks today. Take a look at "Confessions of a Public Speaker," "The Confident Speaker," and "Slide:ology." [Disclosure: "Confessions of a Public Speaker" and "Slide:ology" are O'Reilly titles.]

Start low-key — User group meetings and Ignite events are usually supportive places to get your feet wet. Scott Berkun's Why You Should Speak (at Ignite) presentation (embedded below) is an inspirational and succinct primer for newbies, and it helps answer the pesky what-the-hell-do-I-talk-about question.

Team up — Take the stage with a more experienced speaker. Even if you just push the button on the slide clicker, you're still putting yourself in front of an audience.

Come along with me, won't you? Even if you're not part of an "underrepresented group." It's good for our careers; the communities we represent; the causes we espouse; and hey, I've heard it can be fun, too.

I'd love to hear from you. How did you get started speaking? What are your suggestions and resources for honing preso chops? What do you get out of speaking in public? If you're an event organizer, what steps are you taking to diversify your participants? If you're a regular on the conference circuit, what do you do to mentor and encourage others to take the podium?

Please share your advice and ideas in the comments area.

Associated photo on home and category pages: 224/365 Mic by thebarrowboy, on Flickr. Photo at top of post: Empty Stage by Max Wolfe, on Flickr.


May 10 2011

Ignite at Google I/O

Ignite takes place at Google I/O on Tue. May 10 at 5 PM PDT in Room 11 at Moscone West. If you can’t be there, you can watch live on the I/O Live site.

IgniteGeeks like to share. At Ignite events, we've found that a speaker can impart a lot of information to a curious audience in just five minutes. So we went out and found 10 geeks to each share some slice of their life. The talks are going to range from life hacks and online experiments to histories of technology. They each get 20 slides that auto-advance every 15 seconds for a total of five minutes on stage. We find that the constraints make the event a lot more energetic than you'd expect.

Ignite events have spread around the world helping geeks share their ideas. Google has been a big supporter of getting the word out about Ignite and is hosting its third Ignite at I/O. For the first time ever we are going to be in a keynote room and will be streamed live - so tune in from 5-6 PM PDT on Tuesday, May 10.

Here are the speakers for Ignite I/O 2011.

Kyle Machulis (Nonpolynomial Labs) — This is your brain. This is your brain on bugs.

What do our biometrics say about our code quality, and vice versa? Can health hardware be a debugger for more than just health?

Matt Cutts (Google) — Try Something New For Thirty Days

What happens when you try a bunch of 30-day experiments? Many succeed, and even the failures are over in 30 days.

Pamela Fox — No, Really, I'm Shy

People are often surprised to find out that I am really, really shy. I figured that out when I was a kid and have spent my life coming up with workarounds for my shyness, and now I want to share those hacks with all of you.

Monica Rogati (LinkedIn) — Tiger Moms, Ninjas, and Chips, Oh My! Uncovering the Story in the Data

100 million LinkedIn profiles. Career histories going back to the '70s. The data tells stories — how do we hear them through all the noise?

Patrick Davison (Know Your Meme) — Avril Lavigne; or How Global Warming Taught Me Why YouTube's Important

The study of global climate change has created a number of techniques for making sense of the incredible amount of data available. To what degree can the same methods of statistical analysis be used to make sense of another data dump: every comment ever left on Avril Lavigne's YouTube videos?

Kevin Marks (Salesforce) — Ownership is the Enemy of Control

The history of technology is strewn with examples of attempts to make software behave like property. Some are temporarily successful, but all are ultimately fragile.

Joseph Pred (Burning Man) — Risk Management at Burning Man or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Risk.

Fun has become sanitized by amusement parks, but a sense of risk is a key part of vivid experiences. Risk management, if done right, can mitigate danger while preserving the essential participant experience.

Annalee Newitz (io9) — Social Media Is Science Fiction

In science fiction, social media spawns hive minds, thought control, privacy mutation, and secret revolutions. Do you want to live in the future you might be building with your platforms and apps today?

John Adams (Twitter) — Speak into the Mic: A History Lesson

The microphone has been around for nearly 200 years, yet people still have problems using it. Where did microphones come from, how can you use them to sound great, and where can they take you?

If you've never seen an Ignite talk before you can watch hundreds on the Ignite Show site. If you can't make it to Ignite I/O, then you should find a local Ignite or start your own. If you've always wanted to give an Ignite talk (or really any other talk) then listen and learn as Scott Berkun explains How and Why You Should Give an Ignite Talk.

Tags: ignite

April 13 2011

Ignite Smithsonian examines the evolution of museums and culture

As we all struggle to make sense of a world rapidly changed by technological disruption, the institutions that preserve cultural memory are becoming even more important. Their nature, form and offerings are inevitably changing with the times.

The Smithsonian Institute, as one of the preeminent museum systems in the world, is profoundly engaged in capturing our culture's digital transition. Yesterday, that institution hosted the inaugural Smithsonian Ignite in the "attic of the country."

"I was really gratified to see colleagues from all over the museum world, government, and unrelated fields propose talks," said Michael Edson (@mpedson), director of web and new media strategy for the Smithsonian. "We don't normally get to do this kind of fluid event that flows across disciplines and organizational boundaries. It felt right. It's the role the Smithsonian should be playing: a convener."

There were no shortage of big ideas encapsulated in the Ignite Smithsonian talks, all of which will be available online individually over time. Below are just a few of the themes that resonated in the hours afterwards.

Museums are thinking about big data

The rise of data science has come alongside unprecedented interest in the economic impact of data on society. As with other sectors, museums are thinking about how to manage and use big data in the future.

Brett Bobley (@BrettBobley), the chief information officer for the U.S. National Endowment for the Humanities and the director of the agency's Office of Digital Humanities, focused his Ignite talk on the challenges of big data. Bobley highlighted the perils and possibilities that all of that information presents to museums.

"How do we use big, big data for research?" asked Bobley. That's the question that the Digging into Data Challenge is meant to answer. The challenge, as Bobley explained, is to address the ways "big data" changes research in the humanities and social sciences.

Steve Midgley
Steve Midgley of the Department of Education talks about the Learning Registry. (Credit: Michael Edson)

Another Ignite Smithsonian talk by Steve Midgley (@SteveMidgley) looked at a similar theme, exploring how gaining more insight through data can improve education in a digital learning registry. Capturing and analyzing the data generated by people's interactions with media or objects can offer unusual insight into human behavior and learning patterns. "Tim O'Reilly calls this stuff 'data exhaust'," said Midgley, "and we all need to be paying much closer attention to it." Midgley, the deputy director of education technology at the U.S. Department of Education, spoke at length about the Learning Registry at last year's Gov 2.0 Summit.

Rethinking museum websites

Koven Smith
Koven Smith asks "What's the Point of a Museum Website?" (Credit: Uncommon Fritillary)

"We are making great Conestoga wagons in the age of automobiles," said Koven J. Smith (@5easypieces), director of technology at the Denver Art Museum. "In a world of Facebook and YouTube, why would anyone come to a museum website?" asked Smith.

Smith adapted a concept from software development and argued for more "agile content development," where the experience of audiences is not limited by static websites. He wasn't committed to any one vision for what the future of the museum website will be, but rather what they should do: focus on being better enablers, not producers. "What we actually need to do is enable access to content, whether that content is produced by us or others," Smith suggested. "Focus on creating what is unique to us."

Touchscreen virtual exhibits

With more than 100 million iPhones sold and at least 15 million iPads in the wild, digital exhibit designers have new canvases to create upon. As more Android devices and tablets are sold over the course of 2011, the number of touchscreens in the hands of museum-goers will expand even more.

Simon Sherrin (@thesherrin) technical manager for the Victorian Cultural Network in Australia, focused his Ignite talk on touchscreen museum software that's changing how virtual visitors can navigate exhibits. Sherrin shared the example of, where the touchscreen interface has already been put to good use. The Tap Tours software is open source and can be used by any institution willing to implement it.

The rise of citizen curation

The important role that professional curators, preservationists, archivists and other expert staff play at museums isn't going away, but it is shifting. Online, museum staff can now also play roles of conveners and community builders, working with citizens interested in helping to digitize and organize information.

"It is the responsibility of museum as stewards of memory to help citizens think critically," said Neal Stimler in his Ignite talk. Stimler's presentation described how the spread of connection technologies changes the dynamic between traditional institutions and the people who visit them, either online or in person.

Related to that point, research from the Pew Internet and Life Project highlights how important it is for museums to both acknowledge and respond to digital information trends

Fiona Rigby (@nzfi), content manager at DigitalNZ, looked at how the National Library of New Zealand is thinking like a platform provider as it works with citizens to digitize their cultural heritage. The Digital New Zealand online platform includes a digital forum and an open API. The latter has enabled developers to create applications and tools using open data, several of which were developed during New Zealand's "Mix and Match" mashup contest. The winning mashup, NZ Walks Information, mashes up the location data for walking trails all over New Zealand with Google Maps.

Augmented reality is a reality

Constant connectivity and mobile's next act are on the minds of museum curators, given the devices that now increasingly exist in the palms of citizens. A 3-D vision of ‪an "augmented city" ‬by ‪Keiichi Matsuda ‬provided ‬an ‪eye‬-‪catching‬ vision of a near future during one of the interludes at Ignite Smithsonian.

This video held additional resonance, ‪given the context of an‬ ‪Ignite ‬t‪alk on augmented reality‬ delivered ‪by ‬Margriet Schavemaker (@marschave), head of collections and research at the ‪‬Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. "Space hacking" can allow people to populate cities with an augmented reality of museum objects. These digital constructs can enable museums to hold dialogues with new audiences, far from the physical instantiations of the collections themselves.

Schavemaker's presentation was a reminder of how much of the future already exists in our present, offering several examples of how augmented reality is being used in museums today.

Creating space for creativity

Innovation often has its genesis in people having fun. The Smithsonian's CTO, Carmen Iannacone (@SI_CTO), gave his staff permission to "go out of your way to allow some experimentation into your life." He suggested that managers should allow for a 15% decrease in productivity to explore ways to increase productivity by 50%. As Alice Lipowicz reported for Federal Computer Week, the Smithsonian CTO shared his perspective about knowledge workers and some tips on learning and using new media tools during his Ignite talk.

Iannacone's perspective built upon the ideas Philip Auerswald (@auerswald) shared in his Ignite presentation. "If we don't have playgrounds, there isn't a protected area where creative ideas can happen," Auerswald said, emphasizing the importance of such spaces from infancy through adulthood. Auerswald is behind a proposal to reinvent the Smithsonian Arts & Industries building as a Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation on the National Mall.

Ignite + Smithsonian

"People seemed to really understand and appreciate the Ignite-Smithsonian equation," said Edson. "Ignite stands for something in the tech and media industries, the Smithsonian stands for something in the broader culture, and putting them together resulted in something new and interesting. I'd like to do the event again and see what happens."

Much more detail about the Ignite Smithsonian speakers, their Ignite talks and related resources can be found at the Smithsonian's wiki.


March 29 2011

Ignite Education

During Global Ignite Week, I participated in Ignite Petaluma, which took place at St. Vincent de Paul High School in Petaluma, Calif. I didn't quite know what to expect when I walked into the school's auditorium. There was popcorn and soda but no beer. The audience was filled with families, including squirming kids, and other members of the community.

What surprised me when I looked at the program was that many participants were faculty and students. The principal, John Walker, gave an Ignite talk on how to survive a bear attack. I gave a talk on "Creating Makerspaces in Education."

The presentations by students were remarkable. They seemed to grasp the Ignite format and take full advantage of it. I was particularly impressed by Kara Flageollet and her talk "How Joe Kincheloe Changed My Life." I was glad I didn't follow her.

A speech and debate team member, Kara was so comfortable on stage and discussed how the ideas she was learning made her see the world and interact with it in new ways. Afterwards, I told her that her talk should be her college application. Anyone seeing it would recognize her passion and see evidence of the capabilities she demonstrates so well. I believe that education should increasingly focus on giving students the opportunity to demonstrate what they can do, and share that online with a broader community.

Ignite is a great format to bring together students, faculty and members of the community and connect the school to the community by sharing what we do and what we know. I would expect to see Ignite take place at more schools in the future.

You can watch other talks from Ignite Petaluma here.

November 12 2010

A perfect dystopian storm: Interview with "Flashmob Gone Wrong" speaker

At Ignite London 2, Tom Scott told the story of a Flash Mob Gone Wrong. We edited it for the Ignite Show talk from last week, and it's struck a nerve and is gathering a lot of momentum over on Reddit, MetaFilter and Twitter. Enjoy the video and then read the short interview with Tom Scott below.

What was your inspiration for the talk? Was there a real world event?

Tom Scott: I first had the idea a couple of years ago, and tried to write it as a short story - which was dire! It needed to be much more visual and fast-paced, and the rigid format of the talks at Ignite -- 20 slides, 15 seconds per slide -- seemed like a much more interesting way to tell the story.

One of the inspirations -- other than the actual flashmobs and Internet stalking taking place around the world -- was Larry Niven's 1973 novella "Flash Crowd." That did involve a network of instant teleportation booths rather than the Internet and cell phones, though!

Why did you feel it was important to tell this story?

TS: The alternative was not telling it! I was trying to entertain more than anything else.

Why did you choose to create a fictional event vs. a real world
event that was almost sensational?

TS: "Mob" is deliberately a worst-case scenario, a perfect storm. Everything that can go wrong does go wrong, in exactly the way needed to further the plot! The real world doesn't generally work that way, and there hasn't been one massive event like this yet.

Why did you choose Ignite as your medium?

TS: Because it was there! It's also handy to have a framework to fit into. I had to pare the story down to only what was necessary, and that made it a much better tale.

What did you use to make the talk? Did you follow the "Ignite format"?

TS: Quite a few people have asked that! The "slides" are actually a pre-rendered video made in After Effects; if I flubbed a line or missed a cue, there was no way to recover! And yes, it follows the Ignite format -- there is one cheat where I have two blank slides in a row, but even then there's technically a topic change when the timer bar resets ...

I've read some criticism that this talk is fear mongering because it is a fictional story. Personally I think that the talk is brilliant (and not just because of the delivery and fluidity of the presentation). The point of the talk is that these events could happen in a perfect storm and that we wouldn't be surprised by it. It's a modern-day parable.

The talk is a work of near-future science fiction and is no less valid because it is done as a performance than if it were written in a book. Tom is not trying to warn us away from technology, but prepare us for its implications.

November 02 2010

Join us for Global Ignite Week: February 2011

global ignite week logoGlobal Ignite Week is scheduled for Feb. 7-11, 2011. For the second year in a row we are going to have as many Ignite events as possible in a single week. At launch, we have 45 cities on 5 continents participating. The list includes Bucharest, Paris, New York City, San Francisco, and Sydney. If you've ever wanted to start an Ignite in your community, now is your chance.

Each Ignite event has a series of five-minute talks. The constraints of the Ignite format -- each talk is accompanied by 20 slides that auto-advance every 15 seconds -- adds something extra. It's a boon for the audience because presenters realize they need to prepare and rehearse to keep up with their slides, and that leads to well-thought-out talks.

Last year, Global Ignite Week was in 67 cities. More than 600 five-minute talks were given on 6 continents. I expect this year we will reach 100 cities.

Ignites are community-run geek events (O'Reilly is really just the shepherd, Ignite would be nowhere without the support of communities around the world). Starting an Ignite is a great way to build community and hear new ideas. Contact us if you want to join up for Global Ignite Week -- by starting, attending or assisting with a local Ignite event.

Participating cities and countries

Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Anchorage, AK
Ann Arbor, MI
Atlanta, GA
Bend, OR
Berlin, Germany
Birmingham, AL
Boston, MA - Ignite Spatial
Brisbane, Australia
Bristol, UK
Brussels, Belgium
Bucharest, Romania
Cheyenne, WY
Cincinnati, OH
Costa Rica
Dallas, TX
Denver, CO
El Salvador
Lansing, MI
Lisbon, Portugal
Madison, WI
Manila, Philippines
Medellín, Colombia
Mumbai, India
New York, NY
Oporto, Portugal
Paris, France
Pensacola, FL
Petaluma, CA
Philadelphia, PA
Phoenix, AZ
Raleigh, NC
Rochester, MI Ignite Automotive
Santa Fe, NM
San Francisco/Bay Area, CA
Seattle, WA
Sebastopol, CA
Silicon Valley, CA
Sioux Falls, SD
Sydney, Australia
Vail, CO
Warsaw, Poland
Waterloo, ON
Wellington, NZ

Here's the full press release announcing Global Ignite Week 2011.

June 07 2010

Ignite NYC IX This Wednesday, 6/9

ignite nyc

Ignite NYC is returning for its 9th edition during the third Internet Week; I'll be co-hosting with Igntie NYC Director Tikva Morowati. We've got a great set of speakers and we'll be holding the event this Wednesday at Internet Week's Headquarters (Metropolitan Pavilion; 125 W. 18th Street - register). As always each speaker will get just 5 minutes on stage with 20 slides that auto-advance every 15 seconds. You can see previous Ignite NYC videos on

ANIL DASH: @anildash,, Expert Labs

"I Live Nowhere" ...Nine months ago I broke my lease agreement, put my stuff in storage, and started hopping from sublet to sublet on both coasts. Here's what I learned about material ownership, personal connections, and how unnecessary it is to own a hair dryer.

CATHERINE WHITE: @catherine_white,
"The Noisy Idiot Dilemma" ...How do we work together online in groups when there are noisy, dominant and often unhelpful people in the group? Especially when these people are not necessarily breaking forum rules, instead they often just make group collaboration and decision making difficult, if not impossible. The Noisy Idiot Dilemma attempts to provide a global overview of this behavior through studying online forums and proposes optimization methods for online group conversation and collaboration.

"Power/Play" ...Machine Learning and the broader category of Artificial Intelligence are rapidly expanding with the mutual explosions of the internet, social networking, and surveillance. In my talk I will introduce the concept of inductive bias, an inextricable component in the framework of intelligent computer systems. I will discuss how this bias represents an abstract danger which could have very real social and political consequences.
Finally I will talk about how my recent art projects experiment with taking the apparatus of surveillance technology and re-purposing its mechanisms for the intention of play rather than the reinforcement of power.

"Our Digitally Distributed Future" ...When we hear the IBM quote from the 50s " that six electronic digital computers would be sufficient to satisfy the computing needs of the entire United States" we think it's ridiculous, but it's not! We're heading towards that model with the massive Google, Amazon, and Facebook data centers that we are all now entirely beholden to. It's time to wake up to this trend, and to make sure the future Internet app builders and creators still have options to work together directly without requiring approved timeshares in the cloud mainframes, I'm working on a new public protocol called TeleHash to build an open decentralized platform owned operated by everyone.

JOSH KNOWLES: @chasing,
"Games in Social Media" ...Games are compelling. Games are educational. Games are addictive. And casual gaming is heavily influencing the current wave of social media services. Think FourSquare and Mayorships. Or Reddit and Karma. I'll give an overview of how game design is influencing social media design, show some examples of who's doing the really cool stuff, and talk about what the future of games in social media may hold. The text of a similar talk Josh gave at SXSW is here.

LARRY SMITH: @smithmag, SMITH Magazine
"Told You I'd Be Published Someday: The Story of the Six-Word Memoir Project" ...Dubbed “American Haiku,” in the past few years, Six-Word Memoirs have become a global phenomenon. Now found in classroom and churches, for speed daters and as Facebook status updates—Six-Word Memoirs offers anyone and everyone a telling peek at humanity and a chance to find the writer within. But where did it come from and, really, can you tell a story in just six words? In words, images, and even short (short!) videos, I’ll prove that you can, and show you how.

LAUREN SIEGAL: @igivegoodtweet, YouTube, The Best Channel in the History of Ever
"Matchmaker, Matchmaker Make me a Match and Sell a Shit Load of my Product too" ...Match your brand with key influencers on the web to produce custom content that aligns with your brand’s objectives, and still entertains the producer's audience, your demographic! In this life changing talk, I will clue you in on how to identify gurus who will move the needle for your business, leverage a passionate audience, and get hella views. We will walk through case studies, best practices and lessons learned.

MILA ANTONOVA: @bridgeunion,
"Bridge Is a Powerful Mind Game" ...My favorite quote by Mae West (she found great connection between my two favorite things): "Good sex is like good Bridge: if you don't have a good partner, you'd better have a good hand." I want share my passion and explain why do I think that bridge is awesome game.

SHIRA LAZAR: @shiralazar,, CBS News
"Living Curiously" ...As an on-air host, interviewer and the first video blogger at, Shira Lazar lets us in on why living curiously and being interested instead of focusing on being interesting can inspire us all to reach new heights personally and professionally.

STOWE BOYD: @stoweboyd,
"Publicy And The Erosion Of Privacy" ...We are rapidly moving into a more open web, propelled ahead by the individual decisions of millions of online denizens to share more information about themselves and the world they live in. This is the rise of publicy, and it represents nothing less than a new social contract, with very different forms of interaction and identity. At the same time, an era based largely on privacy -- revealing personal and social information only in limited and tightly controlled contexts -- seems to be eroding at a rate that is startling to some. Recent controversies -- like Facebook's 'Privacygate' -- raise issues of public policy and personal controls, even as many simply say 'get over it; privacy is dead.' Where is this heading, and what should we do?

ZACH LIEBERMAN: @zachlieberman, EyeWriter, YesYesNo
"DIWO is the new DIY" ...An explanation of DIWO (do it with others) movement (as the logical extension of DIY culture) and recent collaborations including the eyewriter, an open source eye tracker to help a paralyzed artist draw again.

GREG LEUCH: @gleuch ,
“Shaved Bieber” …a Firefox Add-on and browser bookmarklet by Greg Leuch that covered up mentions of Justin Bieber on web pages. The project, as it spread from blog to blog, newspaper to radio to tv, tweet to reblog, began attracting the Bieber fans, who began backlashing against Greg on Twitter, in blog comments, and various other places online.

There will be an after-party hosted by Rackspace.

updated with new speaker:

"Hey, Healthcare! It's 2010." ...The health care system is sooo far behind, it's embarrassing. We still have to call doctors' offices! We can only make appointments between 9 and 5, which means making embarrassing calls in your cubicle at work, or just never getting that checkup because it's a pain to find a new doctor, or any doctor who will see you. I want to inspire people to raise their expectations. We freak out when our flight is delayed a half an hour, but just expect to wait 3 hours at the doctor's office. What's up with that?

Tags: ignite

February 24 2010

Global Ignite Week: Starts Monday with 65 Cities, 6 Continents, 500 Speakers over 5 Days

giw logo

From March 1-5 there will be ~65 Ignite events happening around the world. Ignite is an opportunity for geeks to share their passions and ideas with local peers. Each speaker gets 20 slides that each auto-advance after 15 seconds for a total of just 5 minutes. The result is bite-size chunks of information that inform the crowd on new topics. There are lots of Ignite videos online.

Ignite has spread with very little prompting on our part. Almost all of the ~65 cities participating next week were self-started and community organized. As Tim said, "Self-organization enables amazing scale". Global Ignite Week is definitely and example of that happening. Anyone can throw an ignite -- they just need a laptop, a stage, ideas and a community. To be successful they will also need the backing of that community and in most cases the community has come together to make the event happen.
bing giw map

This week has taken a lot of coordination and planning. The independent Ignite organizers have all shown a great willingness to band together to make this happen. It's been really impressive.

Next week you can participate by attending one or watching them streaming online. In the following weeks we'll get >500 videos from all of the different events (events often have ~15 talks). I will personally be attending the Ignites at SMX West (3/2), Bay Area (also 3/2), and Portland (3/3). I'll be hosting Ignite Seattle on 3/4.

Here are the events happening on Monday (on Thursday there will be over 30 Ignites).

Monday, March 1st

Ignite Berlin

Ignite Frankfurt

Ignite LA

Ignite Manchester

Ignite Munich

Ignite Nairobi

Ignite Savannah

Ignite Milwaukee

I've included the whole list after the jump. They are listed by date. Attend if you can.

Tuesday, March 2nd
Ignite New Mexico
Ignite Anchorage
Ignite Casablanca
Ignite Denver
Ignite London
Ignite Manila
Ignite Melbourne
Ignite Montreal
Ignite Philly
Ignite Princeton
Ignite Bay Area
Ignite Sydney
Ignite Wellington

Wednesday, March 3rd
Ignite Bangkok
Ignite Beijing
Ignite Brussels
Ignite Budapest
Ignite Cincinnati
Ignite Dallas
Ignite Madrid
Ignite Portland
Ignite Raleigh
Ignite Sacramento
Ignite Sebastopol
Ignite Toronto
Ignite Waterloo

Thursday, March 4th
Ignite Ann Arbor
Ignite Baltimore
Ignite Bangalore
Ignite Boston
Ignite Brisbane
Ignite Bristol
Ignite Cardiff
Ignite Denmark
Ignite Fort Collins
Ignite Hamburg
Ignite Houston
Ignite Iowa City
Ignite Jakarta
Ignite Lisbon
Ignite Liverpool
Ignite Lyon
Ignite Minneapolis
Ignite Missoula
Ignite Monterrey
Ignite Silicon Valley
Ignite Nashville
Ignite New Haven
Ignite NYC
Ignite Oporto
Ignite Italia
Ignite Salem
Ignite Salt Lake
Ignite SMX West
Ignite Seattle
Ignite Tampa Bay
Ignite Tulsa

Friday, March 5th
Ignite Boulder
Ignite Lansing

Some weren't able to get their venues next week so there will still be Ignites happening throughout the month. Tomorrow is Ignite Bend 4 and a bonus one on 3/11/2010, Ignite Novato

February 09 2010

Ignite, Syndicated Events, and Social Media Marketing

As we approach Global Ignite Week, a collection of Ignite events around the world during the first week of March, I can't help but think about the future of conferences, one of O'Reilly's major businesses. Here are some of the things we're learning from Ignite.

  1. People love the rapid-fire format. Steven Levy once said that Foo Camp is the wiki of conferences, an unstructured space where the attendees make things happen. Well, by that measure, Ignite is the Twitter of conferences, a way to quickly share information and spark enthusiasm. The Ignite slogan: "Enlighten us, but make it quick." is a great way to force speakers to focus on the essentials. It's amazing how much you can pack into five minutes when you're on the clock.

  2. We're increasingly using the Ignite format at our traditional conferences as a way to highlight lots of great ideas that people can dig down into later. We've had 5 minute "Lightning Talks" at the Open Source Convention since 2003, but Ignite has a social environment halfway between structured sessions on stage and the "hallway track" that is so exciting at many conferences. As a result we're now holding Ignites in conjunction with many of our conferences, both as part of the program and as a social event in addition to the regular conference content. We've also organized Ignites at other events, such as Google I/O and Adobe Max, and upcoming at SMX West.

  3. Self-organization enables amazing scale. Since Brady Forrest and Bre Pettis launched the first Ignite event in Seattle in December 2006, there have been over 180 Ignites held around the world, with over 80 of those held in the past six months. Each Ignite has the same format: an evening event, often in a bar or other informal meeting place, starting out with a Make: contest, followed by a series of short talks, with 10-15 speakers given five minutes to speak on the subject of their choice, each with 20 slides auto-advancing every 15 seconds. Organizers invite speakers and, like any event organizer, pick people who will engage the audience. Events usually draw at least 100 attendees, and the largest Ignite to date has had 800 attendees. 2-300 is the average.

  4. We learned a lesson when Foo Camp led to Bar Camp, and hundreds of other "camps" (City Camp and Crisis Camp being two fabulous recent incarnations), and so, with Ignite, we set out from the first to make it a self-organized event, providing instructions and a mailing list for Ignite organizers.

  5. Syndication allows a decentralized event to gain some of the benefits of aggregation. Accordingly, we provide a central calendar listing of upcoming events, a video portal, and other opportunities for organizers and participants to share what happens at their local event.

  6. We're working to develop additional mechanisms to support local Ignites, including social networking tools, and a much improved video portal (to be released in time for Global Ignite Week). Each Ignite provides its own factory for innovation, so we're looking for the best ideas from local organizers and working to spread them more widely.

    We're particularly interested in developing mechanisms for syndicated sponsorship.
    Up till now, there has been some local sponsorship of Ignite events. Local sponsors might provide beer in exchange for a banner, or give away product from the stage. Ignite Portland began showing short sponsor videos during the socializing breaks. Here's an example:

    With Global Ignite Week, we realized that we've reached the scale where we can engage major sponsors. Global Ignite Week will have the reach of a large trade show, with 15-20,000 participants. Across all Ignite events this year, there may well be significantly more than 50,000 participants.

    We've come up with a sponsorship model in which major sponsors can contribute a video to be shown across all participating events. If sponsors understand the format and deliver entertaining, informative video rather than traditional marketing spam, this can be a huge opportunity to engage passionate, interesting (and often highly technical) audiences. (In the future, we hope to have these video sponsorships in the form of actual syndicated Ignite sessions.)

    There's a particularly interesting aspect to Ignite that we've come to realize. It's a social event, and so sponsorship at Ignite is fundamentally social media marketing. In addition to the people who attend each Ignite event, millions more are exposed to the event via Twitter and Facebook. We've been working with PeopleBrowsr Analytics and O'Reilly Research to understand the social media impact of Ignite events.

    We compared the tweet count and reach from the Web 2.0 Expo NY and Web 2.0 Summit events last fall with the tweet count and reach from the Ignite events happening in the same timeframe. (For purposes of comparison, we decided to use a date range from 10 days before the Web 2.0 Expo till 20 days after the Web 2.0 Summit.) For the Web 2.0 Expo, we counted tweets using the #w2e and #w2expo hashtags; for the Web 2.0 Summit, we counted tweets using #w2s and #web2summit; for the various Ignite events, we counted tweets using either #ignite and the individual hashtags recommended by the organizers of the Ignite events held between 12 October to 24 November. As you can see from the figure below, the Web 2.0 events each generated a huge, concentrated spike, while the Ignite events provided a repetitive series of spikes, each much smaller, but important in the aggregate.


    The Web 2.0 Summit generated 8,723 tweets from 2,356 individual users with a combined reach (aggregate of all followers of unique tweeters using one or more of the hashtags) of over 11 million, with 74 million potential tweet impressions (aggregate of all tweets seen by all followers.) The Web 2.0 Expo NY generated 11,950 tweets from 2,953 users with a combined reach of 6.4 million and nearly 42 million potential tweet impressions. Meanwhile, the 26 Ignite events held around the world during October and November generated 8,026 tweets from 2,585 with a combined reach of 3.5 million and over 11 million potential tweet impressions.

    Clearly, the numbers were stronger for the traditional events - especially the Web 2.0 Summit, whose tweeters included a much higher proportion of "influentials" with high follower counts. But the Ignite movement is gaining steam. While the numbers for the sample period were smaller than those for the traditional events, when you use the Ignite data to project the expected tweet count from Global Ignite Week, the numbers are quite comparable. The sample period included 26 Ignite events spread over two months, and a total of perhaps 6000 participants. With more than 79 events currently scheduled (and perhaps as many as a hundred, as more are added each day) over a period of a week, Global Ignite Week (#giw) should generate more than 3 times the attendance and the tweet traffic that we saw during the sample period - as many as 25,000 tweets with a combined reach of 10 million followers and 35 million potential tweet impressions. Over the course of a year, several hundred Ignite events will have an attendance and a social media impact that exceeds that of even large traditional events.

    We're still working out how to manage the syndicated sponsorship opportunity. Challenges include finding sponsors (prospectus pdf here) who understand the opportunity, making sure that those sponsors understand the Ignite culture and provide valuable content, developing mechanisms for sharing sponsorship benefits with local organizers (for example, we're talking with Facebook about providing in-kind advertising that organizers can use to bring attendees to their events), and working to understand the demographics and interests of the attendees. With tools like PeopleBrowsr analytics, it's increasingly possible to measure these things (and much more, including attendee sentiment) via the twitter "data exhaust."

    There's an important twist to this story. A recent study showed that 70% of companies plan to spend more on Twitter & Facebook marketing rather than traditional marketing channels. Given the new social media marketing disclosure rules put forward by the Federal Trade Commission, you've either got to do explicit ads, or sponsor content that will spread on its own. Ignite is a great way to do social media marketing right.

There's a nifty Bing map from Global Ignite sponsor Microsoft that makes it easy to find an Ignite near you. Click on the heading of the map below to see a larger version that lists all the Ignite locations alphabetically beside the map.
Click to use the larger version.

Tags: giw ignite

January 22 2010

iPhoning His Way To Retirement

My friend Eugene Lin wanted some iPhone App Store money. So he made one iPhone app that was eventually accepted, then another that was rejected and then he found a hit with the racy Peek-a-boo. Along the way he learned the ins and outs of the App Store approva process and made quite a lot of money in Japan.

He shared his findings on this episode of the Ignite Show. Eugene was filmed at Ignite Seattle 8 in the funniest talk of the evening.

Reposted bytorgator torgator

December 16 2009

Global Ignite Week: 40+ Ignites Coming Next March

GIW logo global ignite week

Just over three years ago, Bre Pettis and I threw a geek night in our home town. We called it Ignite Seattle. About 200 people joined us for a hectic night of geek contests, five-minute talks, and beer. I've been hosting them ever since--we just held our 8th Ignite Seattle and had over 700 people in attendance. Since that first amazing night in 2006, Ignite has spread to over 60 cities, bringing together thousands of geeks and generating hundreds of videos of Ignite talks.

This March, it gets much, much bigger. O'Reilly is launching the first-ever Global Ignite Week, to bring together as many local Ignites as possible. As of right now there are almost 40 Ignites scheduled from March 1st through the 4th. The Ignites will span the globe and you'll be able to watch them streaming online every day. So far, Global Ignite Week is represented on 4 continents and 9 countries. Our goal is to have participation from all 7 continents (Nairobi is looking good, and we're working on Antarctica).

I'm happy to say that Bing has stepped up as our first sponsor, helping us make Global Ignite Week possible.

If you'd like to be apart of Global Ignite Week (either by throwing an event or as a sponsor) contact us via Here are the participating cities (so far).

Ann Arbor, MI
Atlanta, GA
Auckland, NZ
Austin, TX
Baltimore, MD
Bangalore, India
Bay Area, CA
Boston, MA
Boulder, CO
Brussels, Belgium
Calgary, Canada
Cardiff, UK
Columbus, OH
Denver, CO
Fort Collins, CO
Los Angeles, CA
Lansing, MI
Lisbon, Portugal
Madrid, Portugal
Missoula, MT
Montreal, Canada
Nashville, TN
New Haven, CT
New York, NY
Paris, France
Philadelphia, PA
Portland, OR
Pune, India
Raleigh, NC
Salt Lake, UT
San Diego, CA
Sault Ste. Marie, Canada
Seattle, WA
Sebastopol, CA
Sydney, Australia
Toronto, Canada
Waterloo, Canada
502/Louisville, KY

Tags: ignite
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