Last week I got to attend two conferences solely for my personal interest. Conferences are a part of my job, so I do them pretty frequently and often enjoy them. But its pretty rare that I get to go to one just because I want to.

Gurus, held just outside Chicago, is a regular conference for church media and technology, held by Willow Creek church. Our church at home is starting up a video ministry, and although I have a fair bit of experience with that, from our stint in New York, its been almost 3 years since I was deeply involved in building a video ministry, and things have definitely changed! I got to learn from some actual professionals some concepts in video editing, terminology and ideas in video directing, and fill in lots of big gaps in my understanding of video transmission. Examples were discussed covering everything from live broadcast over KU Band satellite uplink, to on-prem distribution with a time delay, to IP-based streaming. The latter two are mechanisms we’ll be using at some point in the not-to-distant future with our church at home.

TEDx Waterloo (where x = independently organized event) was held the day after Gurus, so I flew back early to make sure I could get to that. It was well worth it!
TED, which stands for Technology Entertainment and Design, subtitled “Ideas worth spreading” is an annual event held in California where the world’s best, brightest and some of its most interesting come to talk about whatever ideas they’re exploring at the moment. Tickets are $6000, and the talks are fascinating – although I can only afford to watch them online, and even if I had the $6k to spare, probably wouldn’t be qualified to attend.
TEDx was a smaller version of that, featuring many impactful and interesting Canadians. You had to apply to attend, but I don’t think the requirements were very high. The conference itself only cost $40, and was worth every penny, and the half day I spent there.
Speakers included a teenager who tried to be the youngest person ever to sale around the globe, the multi-degreed Dr. Roberta Bondar, Canada’s first female astronaut, Vincent John Vincent a Canadian researcher who developed motion tracking two decades before the Kinect came out, Edwin Outwater, one of the finest conductors in Canada, and about a dozen others. Most had a distinctly humanistic value system, that leaned toward proselytizing at times (Mr. Outwater seems to believe that Beethoven wrote his religious music to “the world” and not to God – or maybe he felt like the audience wouldn’t appreciate a religious suggestion) but it was still thought-provoking and fun to participate in. I practiced mingling, and got to meet some interesting people.

There’s at least two more work related conference coming up before the big summer one – including the Vegas trip. I don’t like Vegas and it falls too near our due date, so I think I’ll wriggle out of that one. The other may end up being a year maker/breaker at the end of March, so I think I’ll be at it!

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