This past Friday night I was very fortunate to attend the TEDxOntarioEd conference in person. It really was a fantastic evening and I was struck by how well the event was put together. The stage looked wonderful; the presenters were interesting and engaging. Most of all, the organizers were able to create the sphere of a “relaxed conversation.” People were able to mingle with each other and with the presenters during the break and after the presentations. This made everyone feel as though we were an active part of the event and not just passive recipients. When a few technology issues arose, the organizers were able to gracefully navigate their way through the brief interruption, so that the audience never felt anxious or uneasy. I really hope that the TEDxOntarioEd presentation becomes a yearly event and I would love to help in any way that I can in the future.
For me, the best part of the TEDx event was having the opportunity to meet many of the wonderful educators that I have been following online for quite some time. It felt like I already knew many people attending the event even though we have never met in person. Nearly every conversation I had started because I was able to recognize someone’s face (from a profile pic) or recognize someone’s name (from Twitter or their blog). Later in the evening I was having a conversation with Sharon Drummond, Kelly Power, Matt Walkinshaw and others, about the feeling of “knowing” people before we have ever met them. We all agreed that in our digital world, knowing people’s online-self is “The New Knowing.”
Every blog you write, every time you tweet, every comment you post, every photo you upload to Flikr -everything you do publicly online becomes a piece of your online-self. In our modern world it really is possible to “know” someone, even if they don’t know you! What makes us individuals has more to do with what we think and our experiences than it has to do with what we look like. Even though I could not identify most of the 300 people I follow on Twitter by face or name, I know who they are by what they share: I get glimpses of their thoughts and experiences, I sense their passions and frustrations, I know who they “know.”
Heading to TEDxOntarioEd (entirely on my own), I wasn’t nervous about making friends or connecting with people … I already knew that I would find people there who are like me. Best of all, I got to know people I’ve “known” for a long time – hopefully, they would say the same about me.
Photo Credit: Jame7