TEDx Seattle: Space Age Meet Digital Age

One of the most memorable moments of the 20th century — Apollo 11’s moon landing in July 1969 — was broadcast live thanks to some pretty spiffy video compression techniques.

We take video compression for granted today; I continue to marvel at how we can transmit live to the world from our smartphones and laptops, largely for free.  Live video streams are now a fundamental component of any communication strategy.

In our digital media masters program, we believe in communicating by sharing our ideas and discoveries through public events.  That’s what our very successful TEDx Seattle at the Pacific Science Center was all about (where as one attendee stated about our transformative “brains on trampolines” event “the space age met the digital age”).

But with all the multimedia communication platforms available to us, we now understand that the event itself is just the first step.  With TEDx we shared our speakers across space and time, by partnering with Livestream to share a live feed with the world, and simultaneously recording it for a YouTube video archive (watch all our TEDx Seattle talks here) — such as Cheezburger Network CEO Ben Huh’s inspiring presentation about his life’s goals:

Nearly 1300 people applied to attend TEDx Seattle, 340 did attend.  But that was just the beginning.

We conducted an aggressive public outreach campaign, along with an MCDM social media team — led by student Melissa Bird-Vogel, advised by Kathy Gill, partnered with Tim Reha — all of which helped drive people to our stream.  Livestream reports that during our event, we had 4,227 unique visitors to our live feed — three times the amount of other recent TEDx events that used Livestream as their platform.  And these virtual attendees, primarily from the USA, Germany, Italy, UK, France, Canada, Brazil, India, the Netherlands, and Spain spent on average 10 minutes each on our channel — which is also higher than the average.

Although we were availing ourselves of platforms that allow anyone to communicate, I believe we also hit a “sweet spot” between citizen communication and professional production.  We conscientiously engaged a premiere production company to film and stream the event for us; two MCDM students who are also professional photographers fed our Flickr account throughout the event (leading to 10,000+ photo views).  Strong visuals, consistent audio (as well as obviously compelling content thanks to our organizing committee) brought people into our online tent, and encouraged them to stay a while.

And now, due to some very fast editing by Scott Macklin, we have some superb quality videos to share with the world.  Thanks to community and enabling social technologies, TEDx Seattle endures.

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