SLO to host TEDx event in the fall

Correction: An earlier version of this story said Jeff Atwood, co-founder of StackOverflow, was scheduled to speak at TEDx San Luis Obispo. He had to cancel his appearance.

Some of the state’s top business leaders, thinkers and innovators will meet in San Luis Obispo this fall for TEDx San Luis Obispo, a new event designed to spark conversations about such topics as technology, health care and photojournalism.

The theme of the event, set for Sept. 28 at the Cal Poly Performing Arts Center, is “The Power of Community.”

“I think SLO has done an excellent job of facilitating community, which is one of the reasons why we were voted the happiest place (in North America),” said Jenn Prentice, organizer of the San Luis Obispo event. “I think it’s the ability to forge connections with people in your area.”

Prentice added: “And as far as our conference is concerned — dealing with online and offline communities — it’s the way the Internet has changed the way we view who is in our community and who we’re connected to.”

Prentice organized TEDx San Luis Obispo on behalf of her employer, Experts Exchange, a technology help site. Prentice said the San Luis Obispo-based company is a huge fan of TED talks. About 500 people are expected to attend the first event here. If it goes well this year, TEDx San Luis Obispo could become an annual event, Prentice said.

TED, an acronym for technology, entertainment and design, is a nonprofit organization that hosts global conferences bringing individuals in a variety of industries together for insightful conversations.

TED conferences, which originated in Monterey, are the brainchild of Chris Anderson, a former journalist and publisher who started TED 25 years ago.

Prentice said Anderson realized people craved regional versions of the event, so TED allows individuals to apply for licenses to host independent TEDx events. The TED organization does not financially support the independent events. It does, however, require approval of all speakers and sponsors, and talks cannot exceed the 18-minute limit, she said.

Past speakers at annual TED conferences, which are held in Long Beach and Edinburgh, Scotland, have included Bill Gates, former President Bill Clinton, former Vice President Al Gore, Jane Goodall and Sir Richard Branson.

The following are among the guests expected to speak at the TEDx San Luis Obispo event, which will be hosted by Brian Tietje, Cal Poly’s dean of continuing education: Gopi Kallayil, Google+Community manager; Tom Adamski, former CEO of Level Studios, now a Rosetta company; Matthew Woods, vice president of REC Solar; Joanne Smith, Delta SVP of Inflight Services; Neha Sangwan, founder and CEO of Intuitive Intelligence; Dana Oshiro, senior media analyst and publishing strategist at Netshelter; Starr Hall, associate partner, social media/brand interactions at Rosetta; Mark Wills, site administrator at Experts Exchange; Michael Crandall; CEO of RightScale; Patrick Matthews, community volunteer at Experts Exchange; Amanda Koster, founder of SalaamGarage; Diane Bisgeier, The Mozilla WedFWD Initiative; Matthew Huxtable, child prodigy and Cambridge University student.

Speakers are not paid, and all proceeds will be funneled back into the event, Prentice said.

The event is open to anyone in the community, and tickets may be purchased by visiting Early-bird tickets are $32, and student admission is $20. A $12 discount is available to the first 150 nonstudent ticket holders. After the first 150 tickets have been sold, faculty and staff from local colleges and school districts are eligible for a discount.

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