Pecha Kuc-
August 4, 2009 12:36 PM   Subscribe

Ignite is an opportunity to pack into a theater and watch people geek out in 5-minute prepared talks (15 seconds per slide, auto-advance) on all kinds of topics. Maybe there's one coming up near you.

Like Pecha Kucha (and mentioned in that thread), but with less time per slide.

Sponsored and somewhat heavily branded by O'Reilly, so maybe a little Animal Cover Blue.
posted by gurple (15 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Saw this last night. Am now ready to play Scrabble like a psychopath.
posted by ntartifex at 12:47 PM on August 4, 2009

I am suddenly struck by an urge to do a fpp about palimpsests.
posted by empath at 12:51 PM on August 4, 2009

Went to a couple Ignites near me... content was a mix of a little "here's a well-crafted five-minute talk about something genuinely interesting" and a lot of "Here's my usual pitch about my nonprofit/startup, crammed down and stumblingly rushed."
posted by Tomorrowful at 12:54 PM on August 4, 2009

This seems to have the kernel of a good idea, but a really poor execution bordering on missing the point. Sure it's cool to pack a bunch of folks into a venue to watch people give presentations on topics that genuinely interest them; but what exactly is the point in keeping it to 5 minutes, and auto-advancing the slides every 15 seconds?

There were a couple bars that used to do something like this in the Boston area. It was called Nerd Night or Science Friday or something, and it was just a grad student - or an amateur - with a slide deck, in a bar. And people would drink and the grad student would present, and at the end they might ask some questions and then there was applause. That seems way better - even if you don't like the drinking aspect, the leisurely pace and interactivity seem much more enriching than this 5-minute rocket docket. Maybe put a 20 minute cap on it per person if you're really afraid of someone monopolizing the time.
posted by rkent at 1:55 PM on August 4, 2009

What you're describing, rkent, goes by the name "Science on Tap" in Seattle -- there are equivalents in lots of cities. And those can be lots of fun.

I think the point of the crazy-fast format is to expose the audience to a lot of concepts in a short time, and to lessen the impact of a lousy speaker -- hey, they were only on for 5 minutes, and here's the next one. These "talks" are not about depth, they're just conversation-starters.

I came away with at least three good ideas from last night's Seattle event.
posted by gurple at 2:02 PM on August 4, 2009

I presented at Ignite New Mexico a few weeks ago.
...content was a mix of a little "here's a well-crafted five-minute talk about something genuinely interesting" and a lot of "Here's my usual pitch about my nonprofit/startup, crammed down and stumblingly rushed."
That was pretty close to my experience as well. It was our first, and I imagine we'll get better at it. I saw some really great talks that were well-suited to the format at Ignite Boulder previously. Presenting in that format wasn't easy. Luckily, I had an hour or two to rehearse. Getting the timing down is pretty tricky, and some of my co-presenters kind of had a hard time with it. Done well, though, it's pretty cool.
posted by signalnine at 2:16 PM on August 4, 2009

This sounds awfully painful.
posted by oddman at 2:41 PM on August 4, 2009

I spoke at IgniteBend in June and had a load of fun telling the audience how to be more effective philanthropists. The organizers posted a video of the whole event if you want a preview (with a shout out to Pinnacle Media for donating their time).
posted by golden at 3:03 PM on August 4, 2009

Ignite Phoenix must be a bit better run, because when I went a few weeks ago there was only one person who annoyingly talked about their startup idea, and he flat out ignored his slides and the stated topic of his talk. I kind of went into it looking at it as being like theater, but about peoples' ideas instead of a narrative ended up having an entertaining night with a few new things to think about. The 15 second slide thing tripped up a few people who hadn't practiced their talks enough, but overall it worked really well. Ironically, one of the people who had trouble keeping up was the guy talking about his ADD.
posted by TungstenChef at 4:48 PM on August 4, 2009

this was mine from ignite portland last month:

so much fun to put together, and a challenge to say the least. i suggest everyone give it a whirl at least once.
posted by mrballistic at 6:20 PM on August 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

That was great mrballistic - you can tell you are having fun. Are you using a confidence monitor? I would love to try this, but I'd have to travel to get to one - yet another downside of da boonies.
posted by jeoc at 6:44 PM on August 4, 2009


nope, no confidence monitor, really. at least, nothing that codified. i had a small 15" macbook at the foot of the stage that was running in synch with the bit behind me. so, i could see which slide was up by looking down (which i did way too often), but no notes or any of that were allowed.
posted by mrballistic at 7:15 PM on August 4, 2009

Went to Seattle's Ignite7 yesterday. It was certainly the weakest of all I've been to, despite having the best space. Around half the talks were of clearly self-promotional nature, which irked me. Some were pointless ("I am an SEO expert, and I am going to tell you how to entertain guests by opening a can of olives!"), one was an interesting story ("How I investigated the death of this whale"), but not really educational. The epidemiology talk was just painful. Etc, etc.

I think the intent of ignite is to be like TED talks for ADD. My evaluation: it succeeds on format, but fails on content. No offense to anyone presenting.
posted by blindcarboncopy at 8:05 PM on August 4, 2009

... and I am going to tell you how to entertain guests by opening a can of olives!

Yeah, that one was weird and patronizing -- I don't think there's an audience in the world that would have gotten anything out of that. Also the woman with the supposedly humorous and insightful graphs, who just stood there silently for most of the time while people tittered nervously. Not so good.

Sorry, both of you, if you're reading this. Just wasn't into 'em.

On the other hand, the standup economist was great, and the scrabble guy was a good speaker. I enjoyed the photography thing. The ballet one was kind of neat. And now I want to buy an R/C helicopter.

A mixed bag, to be sure. I'll go again.
posted by gurple at 10:10 PM on August 4, 2009

I went to LA's first Ignite a few weeks back, and it was okay. I do think our standards have gotten way higher with things like TED talks - the people I sat with were somewhat brutal in their critiques of even the more interesting presentations. And a lot of talks were on topics I'd already read about on the Internet (even more specifically, right here on the Blue).

And for a few of the subjects, reading the Wikipedia page would definitely have been faster and more informative.
posted by estherbester at 10:53 PM on August 4, 2009

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