Again, it's been quite some time since I last posted. I've been super busy lately, finishing up my classes (finally!) and doing lots of other stuff that I won't take the time to bore you with. However, all excuses aside, I wanted to write about a really interesting event that I went to recently.
Last week, I stopped by Quills Coffee to pick up a copy of my favorite local art magazine and grab a cup of coffee to enjoy while waiting out the rain that wasn't supposed to be here. While flipping through the magazines I picked up, I found a calendar of local events that's in the middle of the magazine every month. One event in particular caught my eye. "Pecha Kucha Night at Bernheim Arboretum, 7-10 pm", proclaimed the block for September 6th. Wondering what the hell Pecha Kucha is, I Googled it and consulted trusty Wikipedia for an explanation:
When we made it there and parked, we made our way through the pitch-black you find when away from the city to the Education Center (it was supposed to be outside in the ampitheater, but the weather was unfortunately uncooperative), inside which a presentation was already going on. Unsure for a minute if we should just stand behind everyone, we scanned for easily-accessible seats, and found a couple aisle seats near the back - bingo! We quickly settled in and watched the current presentation, which was a man named Mark O'Bryan talking about his artwork.
I had pretty much no idea what to expect from this event. From looking up the different presenters online that afternoon, I couldn't really discern a theme for the night. Turns out that there wasn't one. It seems that the way these events work is that whoever wants to talk about something is able to do so, no matter what the topic. Also - at least in this particular instance - the night seemed to go kind of rapid-fire; as soon as one speaker was finished, the next speaker hurried their way to the podium as their title slide was displayed on auto-pilot. This went on for ten iterations, with a short break halfway through.
The presentations were, for the most part, pretty interesting to me. They ranged from urban design to aeronautics, modern media to electronic waste and the data we've been accumulating. There was even a presentation by Mary Herd Jackson, in which she talked about her work with Habitat for Humanity here in Kentucky. One of my favorite presentations was Gabe Bullard's presentation on modern media. To be honest, I can't really go any further than that, because my memory is horrible, and the notes I took aren't too great. But I very much enjoyed the presentation, mainly due to Bullard's enthusiastic style. Next up was Nicholas Greco, a fellow University of Louisville Speed School of Engineering student, who talked about aeronautics, and how he'd like to see more of that kind of work around Louisville. From his presentation, I learned that UofL has an American Institute of Aeronautics (AIAA) chapter that (if I recall correctly) was brought back by Greco himself. I made note of the AIAA, because I thought a friend of mine may be interested. As the presentation went on, he discussed work that he and his team have been doing with building rockets, and I learned that my friend (and several others that I know) are already involved with this group. I think it's cool to see fellow students doing awesome things like competing nationally in rocket contests run by NASA.
Several of the speakers of the night focused on urban design, one man talking about his involvement in the development of Waterfront Park, and others talking about the West Main District and plans to make the Louisville/Southern Indiana area more friendly to walkers and bikers. Ted Smith talked about the amount of data that we produce as a whole, and gave some impressive statistics about how there are more things connected to the Internet than there are people in the world, and how we produce more data every day than the entire Internet consisted of just a few years ago. He also discussed how if we analyze some of the data that's produced with regards to energy usage, traffic patterns, and other things that are just part of daily life, we could make energy and transportation systems much more efficient, and thus improve the quality of life for everyone.
The last presentation I'll talk about that really caught my attention was one by Stephen Pate. He talked about how we rely too much these days on cheap, mass-manufactured things that don't last and inevitably have to be replaced. His message was that instead, producers should make higher quality products, rather than trying to make the cheapest stuff possible. He said something during his presentation that I thought was pretty funny.
- Focus on your craft
- Take care of your tools (remember, your mind is sometimes your most important tool!)
- Don't be outsourced
- When the "whistle blows" call it a day and relax
This event was really neat, and I'm glad I happened upon it. I can see lots of potential scenarios where this type of presenting could be used, from meetups where tech people get together and talk about different technologies (maybe followed by more in-depth conversations on the subject matter), to marathon funding sessions where startups pitch their ideas to venture capitalists. I'm sure there are scores of other applications, but all in all, this is a really cool concept. This was the fifth time they've done this here in Louisville, and I will definitely be at the next one, which is slated for December 6th. They aren't up to date now, but I'm sure that soon, more information can be found at the Louisville group's website, or on the Louisville page on the national site. Hope to see you there!