TEDxSoMa: Bridging the physical and digital world through events

TEDxSoMa is one of the many Tedx events that are springing up around the world as part of a new program that enables local communities to organize, design, and host their own independent, TED-like events. These events bring people together to stimulate dialog and spark connections at a community level, but TEDxSoMa is taking it one step further, expanding their community into the digital world to unite those who are physically attending the event with those who are viewing it online.

We had a chance to speak with Julian Nachtigal, the event organizer, to find out more about what is going into the planning for this unique event.

What is the TEDxSoMa event?

TEDxSoMa seeks bring the TED experience to a local level, bringing together innovative ideas and concepts through TEDtalks and inspiring speakers. The theme for our inaugural TEDxSoMa is “Interactivity in Different Realms.” TEDxSoMa was developed by members of the PariSoMa Innovation Loft whose core beliefs are community, collaboration, innovation, openness, and sustainability.  PariSoMa is becoming a technology hub that weds the virtual and physical world, and we couldn’t be happier to hold a TEDx event focusing on interactivity in such a space.

What do you hope that attendees take away from the event?

Well, most of all we hope attendees find TEDxSoMa as an opportunity to learn. The event is going to give people a chance to hear about exciting ideas and concepts that are helping improve the world through interactivity.  We want people to be motivated and inspired by the speakers they see at TEDxSoMa and have the drive to create things on their own.  Attendees will have the opportunity to talk with many of the speakers and engage interactively with people who are viewing or listening to the event from around the globe via the web.  TEDxSoMa will provide attendees a chance to see how the physical and the virtual realms of technology can interact in real-time and we hope it gets people’s minds buzzing.

Who is speaking?

We have a great lineup of speakers for this event.  Phil Libin, CEO of Evernote, Damon Horowitz, CTO and Founder of Aardvark, Marina Gorbis, CEO of The Institute for the Future, Howard Roffman, President of Licensing for Lucas Arts, Kevin Danaher, CEO of Global Exchange, Heather Fleming, CEO of Catapult Design, and David Sibbet, CEO of The Grove will join us.  There are still several more speakers to be announced which we are very excited about.

How did you recruit such high-profile speakers?

You know, recruitment of these speakers was a very fun and interesting process and it varied a lot from speaker to speaker. We had recommendations from people, we had good contacts to put us in touch with them, we just emailed some out of the blue and for others we connected with on Twitter.  Everyone was very happy to be a part of such a great event and was very excited that we reached out to them to speak.  We can’t wait to see what they have to say!

How are you leveraging social media for the event?

TEDxSoMa is all about interactivity and social media will play a huge role in the event.  We have done the expected with setting up a Twitter account, Facebook fan page, blog, Flickr account, and YouTube account, but we are going further.  The last week of December, we started a retweet competition in which one lucky follower will get a free ticket to the event.

Additionally, TEDxSoMa will be the feature video on Justin.tv and will be featured on Stitcher Radio, allowing users to tune-in live.  Following the event, we will have video and audio available on-demand.

We will also feature the US debut of AgoRoom, an exciting video, chat, Facebook, and Twitter integration tool for events such as TEDxSoMa that online viewers will be able to participate in.

You’ll be providing some exciting entertainment for the evening, can you tell us more about it and how it fits in with the overall theme of the night?

I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am about the entertainment we have planned.  First, we have Diana Arsenian who will be graphically recording the talks.  Graphic recording creates an environment that encourages collaboration and allows everyone’s best thinking to be captured as a “group memory” – a “mindmap”. Second, we have Solenn Seguillon, the lead violinist for the San Francisco Music Conservatory performing.  Her music is truly incredible and we can’t wait to see what she has in store for us.  Third, we are very excited to have AgoRoom, a streaming video, Facebook chat, and Twitter integration tool.  Attendees and viewers from all over the world will be able to interact with each other through the conversation portal.  It will truly be a wedding of the physical event and the virtual event being viewed and listened to online. AgoRoom will also be visible to the attendees at the event and will allow attendees see reactions to the talks coming in from across the globe.

How are you handling registration and ticket sales?

We have invited people to register via tedxsoma.com.  The first week of January we intend to email all of those who have been accepted.  Already, we have had over 250 people register for the event.  The event itself will be a very intimate one because we are only selling about 50 tickets.  Attendees will have a great opportunity to interact with the wonderful speakers we have coming to the event. Thanks to Eventbrite, we will be handling ticket sales through an Eventbrite invitation.