Tuesday, May 31, 2016

TEDxPISCATAQUA


By George Philbrick

Earlier this month, I got a chance from the Hack Shack to visit the TEDx event in Portsmouth. Called TEDxPiscataqua, this event is sponsored by TED talks but run by an independent group. The theme of this year was "On the Edge", and the ideas and technologies talked about at the event certainly were that.
Mr.Garman (The teacher who accompanied me) and I arrived early, so we went to check out the tech playground. The theme seemed to be Virtual Reality. They had everything from a Vive to small movie headsets. An unreleased three dimensional painting program by google, Tilt Brush, was being demoed. I got to try it and I must say it was very cool. You could really walk around in three dimensional space around your painting and the controls were incredibly intuitive and natural. I painted a tree using a thick, oil like tool, and a fuzzy one for the leaves. The space truly was a pinnacle of consumer technology and creation. It was very interesting.
The talks themselves were very interesting, involving everything from Why the Sex Lives of Our Seafood Matter to The Eager Violence of the Heart: America's Obsession with Football.
My favorites were Why Dungeons and Dragons is Good for You in Real Life and How Virtual Reality Can Be the Ultimate Empathy Machine. The first was interesting to me because I had read a book by the speaker, Ethan Gilsdorf. He is also from Oyster River, and spoke very genuinely and with depth. The second was interesting to me in a way that I don't think it would be to many people. The way the presenter spoke of the VR filming as a documentary tool to get distant people to feel other problems really reminded me of the empathy boxes from Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
All of the talks will soon be made available online. Those that have already been uploaded can be found Here. However, if you get a chance, I highly recommend you buy tickets for next year's event and attend. You will see a lot of passionate and innovative people, and I can guarantee they are at least 10 times better in person.

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