'TEDxLSU:Evolve' event set for Saturday

Craig Freeman could barely contain his excitement Friday afternoon when talking about Saturday’s “TEDxLSU:Evolve” program at the Reilly Theatre on LSU’s campus.

“All the cool kids get to do it in all the cool places and so maybe now Baton Rouge gets on the cool kids map,” said Freeman, an associate professor for LSU’s Manship School of Mass Communication.

TED began in 1984 as a way to gather ideas and thinkers from the worlds of technology, entertainment and design. TED holds two annual conferences where speakers are asked to give the speech of their lives in 18 minutes or less, according to TED’s Web site.

TED talks are available on TED’s website or its YouTube channel.

The program runs from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and the show also will be simulcast into the Shaver Theatre for those who did not want to pay $100 for tickets.

Freeman is one of the 25 presenters on the Reilly Theatre’s stage for a localized version of the internationally-known TED talks.

He said he is more excited about hearing other speeches than about giving his own.

“It’s cool to put interesting people in the same place and hearing what pops out,” said Freeman, also a member of the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board.

The TED motto is “ideas worth spreading” and the TEDx events are meant to bring the TED experience to communities.

LSU Communications Across the Curriculum and the Janice H. Pellar Creative Arts Entrepreneurship Project are the main sponsors.

LSU has a license to host another TEDx in 2014.

The TEDxLSU curator Joey Watson said the idea to bring a TEDx to LSU came after Bossier City, Louisiana Tech, Monroe and Tulane each hosted one, and he wanted to bring that experience to Baton Rouge.

“The purpose is to engage people in the passionate exchange of ideas for the hope of creating a stronger sense of community, agency and innovation,” Watson said in an email.

Watson assembled a “brainstorming committee” of local business leaders, students and LSU faculty in August to compile a list of speakers. The initial list swelled to 200 before the committee settled on 25 speakers whose topics fit with this year’s theme, “Evolve.”

“Powerful and magical things happen when people come together to hear innovative ideas from passionate and articulate speakers,” Watson said.

Jensen Moore-Copple, an assistant professor at the Manship School, was the first person Watson chose from the Manship School’s faculty because he felt her research on how people use social media to deal with a loved one’s death is “fascinating” and “relevant.”

Moore-Copple said her initial reaction when she was asked to present was one of nervousness, but not at presenting Saturday.

“It’s a lot to think about how many people are going to be possibly be seeing this,” Moore-Copple said.

She said she looks forward to seeing Keith Comeaux, who worked on the MARS rover for NASA.

Freeman is also someone Watson approached with presenting because of Freeman’s passion and research interests.

“I knew Craig and always felt he was a dynamic TED talk waiting to happen,” Watson said.

Freeman said when he heard about the possibility of TEDx coming to campus, he hoped to be chosen to present.

“It’s like Oscar call night,” he said. “You hear about it, you know it’s going on, but you hope you get the phone call.”

He said his presentation will focus on how the future of higher education depends on communities’ ability to innovate and evolve.

Freeman said he is looking forward to hearing Mary Stein, an assistant director with the East Baton Rouge Parish library system.

“I’d listen to Mary read the phone book; she’s awesome,” Freeman said.

Four students from LSU also will be presenting.

Kristen Hinton and Prentiss Darden, students in LSU’s Create Lab, which implements digital solutions to real-world problems, will present the lab’s research focused on creating digital solutions for newspapers across the country. Nick Hwang and Will Conlin, doctoral students in Experimental Music and Digital Media, also will be presenting.

Hinton, a senior advertising major, said she is familiar with TED talks and watched other TEDs to get tips on presenting.

“For the most part, TED talks are conversations, they’re supposed to be inspiring and they’re supposed to be organic and natural,” Hinton said.

Hinton said doing a TED talk is something of a dream for her and she is ecstatic for the opportunity.

“I feel like the reason why I want to do TED so much is because I believe in the idea behind it,” Hinton said.