TORONTO – There are few places in Toronto where one can affectionately refer to a concert hall full of people as ‘geeks’ without risking an insult or two.
But at ‘ideacity,’ people not only encourage you to call them geeks, it’s considered a term of endearment.
Canada’s own version of Ted Talks, ideacity is where technologists, idealists, inventors and artists gather to network, mingle and present speeches to an audience of around 600 attendees.
Presenters discuss their field of expertise, translate incredibly complicated topics into layman’s terms and show off prized inventions – some of which are considered groundbreaking and some of which are still finding their footing.
Take for example Izhar Gafni, who came all the way from Israel to show off his cardboard bicycle creation.
During his speech, Gafni spoke of his vision for affordable transportation for developing countries and answered a burning question about his beloved invention, “Yes – it’s waterproof.”
(Note: Gafni announced during his speech Monday that the cardboard bike had acquired its first major investor.)
This year’s theme of technology has brought idealists from all over the globe – from roboticists, to musicians who compare Bach to a modern day computer hacker, and even the man who put the first 3D printed gun on the web.
But, ideacity is not all about the technology – in fact, the event offers quite the mixed bag of culture and arts that adds a unique yet unexpected twist, especially for those attending for the first time.
For example, right after an incredibly complicated (albeit intriguing) speech about quantum computing from Canadian Geordie Rose, founder and CTO of quantum computing company D-Wave, a Yiddish folk opera singer took the stage to engage the audience in a sing-along.
“Oh yom, ba bum, ba bum,” sang the crowd under the instruction of Yiddish singer Anthony Russell.
The crowd looked on in awe as they listened to Russell belt out Jewish music, similar to how they did during the quantum computing session, but for entirely different reasons.
Another twist – the group yoga session that took place after Monday afternoon’s ‘Transportation’ session.
The crowd, which nearly filled Toronto’s Koerner Hall, was invited to get on their feet and indulge in some stretching – business suits and all.
And if anyone was feeling shy prior to the stretch break, that was surely fixed after attempting a warrior pose in close proximity to people they just met.
To paint a mental image of this – imagine 600 people lining the rows of a concert hall, chanting ‘Namaste.’
And no one was wearing Lululemon.
“Yoga in heels – only at ideacity,” tweeted one participant.
The conference continues Friday, with a session called ‘Architecture Geeks’, featuring Michael Green, award winning architect and fellow of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada.
The closing events will also feature a session called ‘Policy Geeks’, where “the dean of Canadian science fiction” Robert J. Sawyer will speak.
© Shaw Media, 2013