TEDxVancouver 2011 was thought-provoking, inspiring and really very cool

The theme for this year's "thought leadership" conference was The Frontier: the dreams we haven't yet dreamed.

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Eli Pariser told us to beware online “filter bubbles” when entering a search term on a search engine like Google. He cautioned that Google personally tailors each result depending on the user and what it “thinks” we want to see. As a result, we don't get exposed to information that could challenge or broaden our worldview. Eli Pariser argues powerfully that this will ultimately prove to be bad for us and for the notion of democracy.

Jer Thorp, retro-Apple enthusiast and data artist-in-residence at The New York Times presented amazing infographics on how people move.

Kara Pecknold showcased a successful design approach for businesses in the developing world where they have no access to online communications, and encouraged social enterprise to nurture biking in the city and to help deter bike theft.

Christopher Gaze, artistic director of Bard on the Beach showed us why he believes that Shakespeare is in everything we do, and showed us his chops with a fantastic montage of great Shakespearean quotes.

Stephen Slen and Aaron Coret, partners behind Katal Innovations, talked about their Landing Pad invention and described how it was spawned by a tragic accident involving a routine snowboarding move by Aaron Coret that left him a quadriplegic in 2005.

Jai’ Aquarian and Erin Macri’s talk struck a chord with me personally. The duo talked about our conditioning and learned behaviours as they relate to suppressing our emotions and the feelings of loss and grief. They believe that we don’t have the proper outlets in our society to really let out our emotions or properly grieve. They led the first international crew to build a “community temple” in the unforgiving Black Rock Desert, in order to have a sacred place to express profound emotion.

In the last talk by Emmy-winning producer and father-to-be Victor Lucas, he read aloud a letter written to his daughter and shared his very entertaining "3D" rules for life: Don’t be a dick, don’t dick around and don’t hang around dicks or everyone will think you are one too!

Though the crowd dropped off at the afterparty at the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre, a memorable laser light show to the tunes of Radiohead rounded out the evening.

My criticism of the event lies with the execution of the event and not the content or calibre of the speakers. While the process of having to apply to attend may seem elitist to some, it definitely weeds out the people who don’t really want to be there or commit to the event.

I applied, but after a few days I still hadn't received any official responses to my questions regarding the event. Then I received an email from the volunteer organizers saying that I could bring a friend to the conference -- and they could now purchase a ticket. This struck me as odd, that they would be struggling to fill the seats with this sort of maneuver.

While the energy was positive at TEDxVancouver, I also think there could have been more opportunities made available to meet people during the breaks at the daytime event. I noticed that the event had a rich social media aspect as many were tweeting their experiences during breaks. 

I felt most of the ideas were "worth sharing" and every speaker delivered it with passion, backed it up with commitment, and conveyed a sense of purpose in their lives resulting from their vision.

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