Saturday, November 17, 2012

Ridin' nerdy at the MIT Media Lab

In Boston for an epic TEDxBeaconStreet adventure and you're coming with! Surprise!

Posted By on Sat, Nov 17, 2012 at 4:21 AM

I've landed in Boston for an epic adventure and you're coming with! Surprise!

TEDxBeaconStreet is today and Sunday here in Bean Town so we (Billboard's Katie Morse, who is one of my besties, a bunch of other TEDxers, and I) spent yesterday at nerd mecca, The MIT Media Lab!

I wish we had a spot like this in Charlotte. How could you not? They have life-sized robots!!! Nerdgasms happened. Hell, they might have even been invented there!

I am struggling to capture all of the lab because there was so much to look at and play with so I snapped a bunch of photosynths and videos for your viewing pleasure. The lab is 6 stories tall. Here are panoramas of three of the stories and some video of playing around with tech toys:

This is the tactile media lab where there was this awesome instructional piano:

Then there was this on the wall, I'm not even sure what to call it. The squares don't require any power source, stick to metal walls, and are aware of each other, changing color to the one that is closest when you touch them together:

What a day! I also got to see a very intimate performance to just 40 of us from beatboxer Jflo while we mingled at Towne Stove and Spirits:

So, what's up with me being here, exactly? I'm part of an organizers group of 49 people representing 6 countries and 70+ TEDx cities! If you're not familiar with TED, the technology, entertainment, and design oriented conference centered around sharing of the world's most progressive and innovative ideas of our time, we have a local version of it here in TEDxCharlotte (full disclosure: I am on the steering committee) to get up to speed with. Of the 1,200 attendees expected to be present over the next two days, the 49 of us are the ones flown here as Adventure Catalysts. We're the ones who can create adventures in our cities via our local TEDx and we're here to show the attendees through presentations of our ideas what that looks like. Tomorrow I'll present ideas live for how TEDxCharlotte can make adventures happen in our city! Hope you'll tune in!

Bonus video: I got a chance to sit down with Dick Simon over drinks to talk with him about what it's like being the founder of the YPO Peace Action Network, what he's learned from being a conflict photographer, and what he can share with the world from what he's learned. The man is a successful serial entrepreneur, the Guatemala Honorary Consul and was in Cuba when Hurricane Sandy hit. What perspective! Anyway, here's what he had to say:

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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Two perfect days in British Columbia

Posted By on Tue, Nov 13, 2012 at 4:25 PM

You know how sometimes you get sick of seeing your regular trees and want to go experience some of the world's most amazing ones that everyone's been talking about? Yeah ...

British Columbia, Canada, is a vibrant region. Victoria is a city with some amazing street artists. The usual hustle and bustle of a city is surrounded by some seriously astounding beauty, accentuated by the friendly buds. There's so much to do. Two days isn't enough time, but here's what to do when you find yourself in BC with nothing but time to kill:

Day 1
* Take the Victoria Clipper from Seattle then two hours later, arrive on Victoria Island, BC where the laws are different.
Cost: ~$50-ish
Why: It's freezing ass cold on the clipper, but with humpback whales to scout out, and water like glass to gaze into, you forget you can't feel your fingers.

* Take in some art
Cost: FREE
Why: It's good for you.

* Stop by a pumpkin patch
Cost: FREE
Why: Just because - and because supporting local growers is important.

Day 2:
* Take the BC ferry through Active Pass and on to Galiano Island:
Cost: ~$11.45 CAD
Why: Have you ever watched the show Planet Earth and thought to yourself, "I would do anything to see such stunning sights like that..."? You get this feeling here on the ferry. It's breathtaking.

* Gasp in awe at The Bluffs
Cost: FREE
Why: How could you not?

BRB. I need to lay down.

Next up: Travel app reviews and TEDxBeaconStreet in Boston!

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Monday, November 5, 2012

Shred Charlotte: BMX pros + secret skate park + hexicopter

Posted By on Mon, Nov 5, 2012 at 10:23 AM

A few weeks back a friend took me out to a secret skate park created by a bunch of BMX riders a year and a half-ish ago. There's no real address, other than to say it's in NoDa and has a crazy post-apocalyptic vibe because it's under a bridge by the railroad tracks.

(By the way, all of these images move.)

Having lived in the Q.C. for going on eight years now and never having heard about this place, I immediately fell in love with it the moment I set foot on it. My initial impression was that the park had a high sketchiness factor, but that quickly faded. It isn't sketchy at all (well, at least during the day) — it's actually freakin' awesome, supported by an effortlessly cool, tight-knit community. When I mention it to my skater friends, they all know about it, but no one else seems to have a clue. I love places like this.

These unassuming guys on bikes are not only gnarly badasses getting sponsored by major BMX brands left and right, but they are also the ones who created the secret skate park. Zachery Rogers, 27, and recently sponsored by EZRA BMX, and an out-of-towner, Dr. Luis Pizon, invested their own money into it.

Zachery (in the red hat) said there are about 10 guys, including Guerra BMX's Seamus McKeon, far left, 22, Amber BMX's Logan Derberry, 24, Vein BMX's Phil Jones, 25, and death gap stuntman Jeff Junkins, 23, who really came together to make the park what it is.

"You just get bored to death after you've been at Grayson [Skate Park] for six, seven years," he said. "You pay $5-$10 every time you go to different parks and you're going three, four days a week." He shook his head. "This place paid for itself really fast. That's why we built this." The park is located on private, yet abandoned real-estate, and the group is currently looking for inexpensive warehouse space — there have been rumors of surveyors out looking at the land and that construction will begin on condos in a few months.

So, what does any nerdy birdy do after discovering such a righteous gem in Charlotte's culture crown? Duh, she hangs out with the bunch of BMX biker bros who happen to be most of the guys who made the place, a dude with a hexicopter (everyone needs to know a dude with a hexicopter), and another digital media storyteller for an afternoon of web 2.0 shenaniganry, of course!


Kevin Beaty of Charlotte Video Project shot and made the above .gifs and Hardik Patel of Hackerspace Charlotte strapped a GoPro onto his hexicopter. The video it caught was ridiculously rad:

What a great, random, and oh, so Charlotte experience. Tech, art, culture and the outdoors all at the same time. Innnndeeeeeed.

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