On a beautiful clear night in May, listening to a lecture is the last place many people would want to be.
Tell that to the 250 people crammed into Fishtown bar Johnny Brenda’s for the third Ignite Philly. The kinda-sorta biannual event featured sixteen presenters lecturing on topics ranging from making our power grid smarter to music made by laptops to a camp that teaches young women how to form a rock band. And that’s without mentioning Viddler’s proposed cure for male-pattern baldness.
The Ignite format gives speakers five minute slots where their twenty PowerPoint slides must rotate every fifteen seconds. The result makes it hard for any presenter to belabor a single point, and audience members get a taste of a vast array of topics in a short time span.
After the jump we hand out some awards, give a small hint of the 45,276 pictures we took and tell you how comedian Mitch Hedberg was involved.
Best Overall: Unbreaded by Ben Kessler and Jeff Vogel. For one, we respect any presenter that can enjoy a sandwich on stage and still not miss a beat. But it was the right mix of entertainment, information and charisma that makes Unbreaded our top pick. The two presenters expressed their love of sandwiches and mused over the finer points of sandwich critiquing, with such ground-breaking judgments as, yes, the burrito is a sandwich.
Kessler and Vogel also went through the history of a few of the more popular sandwich styles and even threw in a good “that’s what she said” joke for good measure. See our coverage of the growing blog.
Most interesting presentation: Pneumatic Tubes by Molly Wright Steenson. Wait, you’re telling me that before the telegraph we were way on our way to those Futurama-like tubes? Steenson blew our minds with a detailed history of the information transportation system that wasn’t. Although, Chris Jurney of Relic Games was a close second.
Funniest Moment: Two Guys on Beer by Johnny Bilotta and Dave Martorana. As Technically Philly readers probably know, Martorana and Billotta love beer so much they dedicate a weekly video podcast to the stuff. When it came to the portion of their presentation where they had to demonstrate their love for beer, the duo showed a clip of a handful of women screaming about shoes and then cut to a shot of them in a liquor aisle mimicking their high pitched yelping while jumping up and down like a Price is Right winner.
Two grown men acting like 14-year-old girls? Gold.
Cleverest sales pitch: Cure male pattern baldness by Rober Sandie. The Viddler owner spent 75 percent of his presentation detailing the social harms that male pattern baldness presents. For example, according to Sandie, roughly 30 million children are not born every year because bald men have a hard time with the ladies. Sandie then went into his own personal plight about how working at Viddler has caused him so much stress that he is shedding follicles by the day.
So how to best cure Sandies “illness?” Use Viddler.com, of course. A successful Sandie is a Sandie with hair. Clever, sir.
Best performance: Kendra Gaeta of Kids Money. Gaeta’s speaking style was the best mix of hilarity and information. She had the timingï¿½ and unique speaking style of a female Mitch Hedberg, often mixing simple declarative statements with tiny fits of rage as she battled with the fifteen second timing of her slides winning over the audience along the way.
Boiling down the complex process of her KidsMoney digital allowance theory in five short minutes may have proven frustrating for Gaeta, but her chosen topic was noble, and her authentic delivery kept us watching and rooting for her.
Most academic: Pneumatic Tubes by Molly Wright Steenson. Not that there is anything wrong with good old-fashioned capitalism, but as much as Ignite is not supposed to be about selling something, most of the presentations involved … selling something. While “selling” could mean literally hawking a product or asking the audience to believe in a particular piece of research, Steenson was simply presenting about a topic that she just thought was cool.ï¿½ And who would have known that the first pneumatic tube system in the U.S. started here in Philadelphia?
Of course there were notables who we failed to mention, however it was the five above that had us talking after we left. All presentations should be available online shortly for your own private award ceremony.
Tell us what you think below.
It must be said that there were a handful of presentation such as “4-D computing” and ï¿½You got your studio in my lab!ï¿½ that either contained concepts too heavy for the Ignite format, or the speakers had a hard time trimming the fat of their ideas. That is not to say the topics were not worthy, however they seemed to be much more fitting for a slow-paced academic setting where statements can be elaborated on and expanded. Two hundred people crammed into a bar is a hard audience to go all metaphysical on.
Technically Philly will release all of our photos in a day or so as we battle the Flickr uploading and captioning gods.
Below is the complete list of presentations.
The “set list”
- ï¿½Getting Happier and happier.comï¿½ (Andrew Rosenthal of Happier)
- ï¿½Girls Rock Phillyï¿½ï¿½ (Beth Warshaw-Duncan of Girls Rock Philly)
- ï¿½Who are these Viddler Guys anyway?ï¿½ (Rob Sandie, co-founder of Viddler)
- ï¿½The Rest is Noise:ï¿½ Intelligent Machines Will Transform The Music Industryï¿½ (Dr. Greg Wilder, CTO & Co-Founder of Orpheus)
- ï¿½Pictures of every single blockï¿½ (Andrea K. Gingerich & Bob Cocozza of Philadelphia Grid Project)
- ï¿½Something juicy between two bunsï¿½ (Jeff Vogel and Ben Kessler of Unbreaded)
- ï¿½Smarter Power is better powerï¿½ (Jonathan Adams & Jen Doebler)
- ï¿½Beer. And Beer. And more Beerï¿½ (Johnny Bilotta & Dave Martorana of Two Guys on Beer)
- ï¿½You got your studio in my lab!ï¿½ (Jenny Sabin & Peter Lloyd Jones LabStudio at Penn)
- ï¿½DIY instructions for a tool libraryï¿½ (Michael Froehlich ofï¿½ West Philly Tool Library)
- Intermission with performance by 8Static
- ï¿½The original Tubesï¿½ (Molly Wright Steenson of Girl Wonder fame)
- ï¿½We wantï¿½ Braveheart, not Renfestï¿½ (Chris Jurney of Relic Games)
- KidsMoney by Kendra Gaeta
- ï¿½Future Weather: The Future of Independent Filmï¿½ (Jenny Deller, Director of Future Weather)
- ï¿½Better than strings and brassï¿½ï¿½ (Rebecca Fiebrink of the Princeton Laptop Orchestra)
- “4-D Computingï¿½ (Joe Raimondo)
- ï¿½How to Rock Karaokeï¿½ (Tony Bacigalupo of New Work City)
Two presentations that were originally announced were dropped; Gaeta and KidsMoney filled on slot.
- ï¿½Social Venture Ecosystemsï¿½ï¿½ (Jacob Gray of Good Company Ventures)
- ï¿½Move to Phillyï¿½ (Kendra Gaeta of Move to Philly)
Staff writer Christopher Wink contributed to this report.