Ignite Salt Lake Not Just for GeeksMarch 27th, 2009 (updated)
The dream of fast-forwarding boring Powerpoint presentations realized!
By Richard Markosian
Sending e-mails, texting and writing computer code all day causes one to lose touch with the things that matter most in life. But many in the wired world are finding a release by lighting a fuse under PowerPoint presentations. If you have ever sat through a long-winded boring talk on technology or software--you wish you could fast-forward--then you might understand the inspiration behind a growing popular gathering called Ignite.
Brewvies hosted the second Ignite gathering in Salt Lake City to an overflow crowd. So what is Ignite? Its the fast-forward button, you always wished for, built right into the format. Each presentation is just five minutes, with 20 slides auto advancing every 15 seconds. Last night Alen Peacock's presentation called "A Robot Brain for to /Not/ Destroy Humanity" was a crowd favorite.
Peacock says he was roped into doing Ignite by some of his colleagues. Peacock spoke about how to prevent scientists from fulfilling the common science-fiction prophecy of designing a robot that will end up destorying humanity--as seen in films such as The Terminator, iRobot and The Matrix. One of Peacok's bullet items was "Don't design robots that use humans for battery power."
Peacock said his knowledge of robots came from working at MIT for two years and attending a class taught by a leading robot scientist. During regular hours Peacock works at Mozy, an online storage company. Sitting next to us was Kushagra Srivastava who is also affiliated with Mozy through Decho. Both companies are owned by (E-M-C-Squared). Srivastava is visiting Salt Lake City from Banglore, India. He is in Salt Lake City on business to observe how to successfully merge tech companies. Srivastava has only been in Salt Lake City for one month and he said he was glad he came because all of the presentations he saw were entertaining.
After Peacok's presentation Benjamin Kimball's presented on why Internet Explorer 6 must die--Kimball's presentation brought the house down for his cartoon drawings depicting IE6 in various inhospitable poses. The presentation was inspired by Kimball's dispise for IE6 developed in 2004.
Ignite was initiated by O'Reilly Publishing--well known among computer programmers--O'Reilly publishes computer languages books. Ignite has been around for for some time in Seattle, Oregon and California. Ignite Salt Lake is sponsored by XMission Internet Hosting and several other Utah software development companies.
To get the most out of Ignite it's probably necessary to be familiar with the world and jargon of computer geekdom. But according to Peacock, The prior Salt Lake Ignite event offered several presentations that were not about computers or technology. Adam Price did a presentation on the 337 Community Arts Project and Peter Giles did a presentation on the Leonardo Science Center.
Later, "PowerPoint Karaoke" put a twist on the format: speakers were required adlib using unknown slides and adapt accordingly. "Ummm I don't even know what that is, but it reminds me of math which I'm very bad at." said one man reacting to a slide full of equations. I saw Srivastava-- the young man from India mentioned earlier--laughing at this. He knew the equation--and during his stay in Salt Lake he has probably written an algorithm that can compute the key variables for successfully merging tech companies. Brewvies hosted the special event free-of-charge. Visit IgniteSaltLake.com for more information, including recordings of each presentation.
BTW it just so happens that Brewvies is the very best place in town to go watch a movie. What could be better than watching a movie while drinking a great Bohemian Pilsner (on draft). For showtimes visit Brewvies.com