On the Southern border of Hyde Park, right across from the Royal Albert Hall, is the blindingly ornate structure Victoria had erected to the memory of her dear departed husband, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. The memorial overlooks the modern district of South Kensington, an area informally known as Albertopolis since the 1860s, in honour of the man who did so much to shape it.
Everybody loves a bit of data analysis, right? On the 25th of March, the day after TEDxImperialCollege, I moved over 3500 emails out of my main inbox and into a folder. Why hadn’t I been keeping my emails organised anyway, you might ask. Well, for the same reason that my bedroom floor is covered in paper, useless wires, and old dirty socks…
I downloaded all my TEDxImperialCollege emails and made a histogram showing the number of emails per day. As you can see below, it all starts at the beginning of October 2011, with a Facebook message from Rudy Benfredj (nb: Facebook messages aren’t included in the count, his message is merely illustrative. Also these are only emails I received in my personal inbox.)
By mid-November, license-holder Gilead Amit had come on board. As a TED Global attendee, having Gilead lead the operation allowed us to do an event with over 100 people. None of us thought at the time that we’d end up having 700 people pack out the Great Hall.
At the beginning of February, we started publicising the event and the number of emails per day really started to skyrocket. By the time that tickets went on sale at the start of March, I was getting almost 50 emails a day, on average. I’m sure the rest of the committee were experiencing something similar; I was probably sending them about 50 emails every day!
On Wednesday 21st of March, three days before the event, I received 135 emails about TEDxImperialCollege. Lord knows how I made it through that day…
On a final note, I like to think that I’m good at keeping up with emails. But, to my horror, there were 7 that slipped through the net; who knows what they might have been about… (I’m certainly not checking!)
We regret to announce that owing to technical difficulties, Maja Pantic will not be speaking at this year’s TEDxImperialCollege.
“This is turning out to be my fantasy dinner party,” says our TEDxImperialCollege host Gareth Mitchell as he looks through the list of speakers. “These have been an exciting few weeks. Every few days, the organising committee has been adding new speakers to the line up. Just look at the disciplines covered here: engineering, computing, art, green energy, entrepreneurship, development, neurotechnology, neuroscience (yes there IS a difference and I look forward to exploring that over a cup of tea!), music, fashion, design, and support for offenders.”
As well as being a lecturer in Science Communication at Imperial College, Gareth also presents Click – the BBC World Service radio show covering engineering and technology – and regularly contributes to BBC Focus magazine. As he puts it himself, his geek tendencies go back to a childhood spent playing with electronics, and as a science communicator he’s clearly relishing the prospect of hosting such an eclectic set of talks.
“There will be no ghettos here: just amazing, unexpected conversations both within and outside the sessions, “ he says. “I am familiar with some of the speakers already but there are others who I’ll get to know for the first time. It reminds me of music festivals where the joy of seeing your favourite acts is matched only by that of discovering new ones for the first time.”
And just as the experience of seeing a band at Glastonbury is made richer by the atmosphere and heritage of the place, so too with TEDxImperialCollege: “One really feels the spirit of the Great Exhibition around these parts. South Kensington exudes the feeling of a place that’s been a home to science, culture and exploration for the last century and a half.”
“As for me, on the day I’ll do my thing: usher people on, usher them off, do the intros, make sure everyone’s happy and politely pester the speakers if they run over time. But most of all, I’m going to sit back, listen and soak it all in. See you there!”
Find Gareth on Twitter @GarethM
The TEDxImperialCollege website has been active only two weeks, but already we’ve attracted thousands of visitors. We all know that the most exciting thing about a TEDx event is the speaker line-up, and it’s nice to see that our web traffic proves this. With the exception of the registration link, the speakers page is by far the most visited on the site.
Which is why today we’re proud to announce Professor Sophie Scott as our 6th speaker. She’s a cognitive neuroscience at University College London and will be talking about laughter as language, and the ancient evolutionary origins of laughter. We’re really excited about her talk and we know you’re going to love her as well.
We’ll be announcing our four remaining speakers over the next week, so stay tuned; we’ve got some real gems for you!
The theme for the first TEDxImperialCollege is ‘The Great Exhibition’. The Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851 organised “The Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of all Nations”, under the direction of their President, Prince Albert. At this showcase of industry and design – the world’s first international exhibition – 6800 British manufacturers displayed their ingenuity and skill alongside exhibitors from 30 other countries. The Great Exhibition was held in Hyde Park in Joseph Paxton’s “Crystal Palace” and ran from May to October, in which time six million people visited. Among those six million were Charles Darwin and Charlotte Brontë.
The exhibition’s £186,000 profit was used to purchase the land upon which South Kensington’s cultural and educational institutions were built, including: the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Natural History Museum, the Science Museum, the Royal Albert Hall, and Imperial College London. The Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851 continues to exist, awarding grants and scholarships in order “to increase the means of industrial education and extend the influence of science and art upon productive industry.”
Now, over 160 years later, Imperial College London is to host a Great Exhibition of its own. On the 24th of March 2012 speakers from the institutes that were founded thanks to the Great Exhibition will get together to share their knowledge. Like the original, the fields of science, design and innovation will be showcased at the TEDxImperialCollege Great Exhibition.
Want to know more about the Great Exhibition? The V&A has an exhibition on the Exhibition, Albertopolis and the birth of the South Kensington area. With free entry and its location just off the renovated Exhibition Road, what’s stopping you from visiting?
Registration for tickets for TEDxIC opens on Friday. Information on how to register here.
Right. That’s it. There’s no turning back now: TEDxImperialCollege is officially happening!
Preparations have been underway since October, and the whole team has done a great job keeping such exciting news under wraps for all these months. But now it’s time to break radio silence and spread the word about one of the most electrifying events of the year. On the afternoon of March 24th 2012, Imperial College London will play host to the first TEDx event to come to the South Kensington area. Featuring speakers from the world-class colleges and institutions that surround the university, TEDxImperialCollege is going to be a local event on a truly global stage.
2012 is going to be a milestone for the capital – with the Cultural Olympiad, the Olympics and the Paralympics games all due to take London by storm come the summer. The recent re-opening of the area’s famous Exhibition Road highlights the vital role South Ken will play in creating the London experience, and so what better time could there be to showcase what the area has to offer?
As you may have seen, we’re not giving too much away yet. Registration opens next Friday and we’ll be slowly releasing more details over the coming weeks. It may be a bit of a tease, but believe us, the wait is going to be worth it.