Drawing TEDx, Talking Visual Notes

By | November 18, 2013

Last month, I was pleased to be invited by Antonio Vantaggiato and his team to Puerto Rico to live draw visual notes for TEDxUSagradoCorazón.


cc licensed ( BY SA ) flickr photo shared by Alan Levine

In the past, I’ve seen quite a few TEDx events drawn live on paper but I was excited to try to digitally draw the talks. The maximum length of a TEDx talk is 18 minutes and there were 8 talks planned. This was quite a daunting task, as most of my drawings are usually for 1 hour talks or longer.

The plan was that I would draw the talks as they were presented and during the introduction to the next speaker my completed drawing would be projected on screen. The theatre was very lovely and I had a comfortable seat up near the projection room. My iPad connected via dongle to an extremely long VGA cable that ran into the projection room.

There are quite a few rules about running a TEDx of which I was previously unaware. For example, you must show the mandatory intro TEDx video and you must select two TED videos to show in addition to your live speakers.

The first video selected was Laura Snyder‘s TED talk based on her book, The Philosopher’s Breakfast Club.

Laura must have received a Google alert because within a week, she had commented on the Flickr picture, with lovely compliments and requested putting the drawing on her website.

I love that about the web.

Speaking of what I love about the web, the first live presenter was none other than Jim Groom with notes from the trailing edge framing the awesomeness that is a Domain of One’s Own. I’ve already drawn a lot about Domain of One’s Own but this was a slightly new angle, looking at the repurposing of old, easy to implement technologies in new and innovative ways. I know Jim would say it was the fancy suit fooling me but you can really see a new clarity and (dare I say) polish to his presentation style. Jim’s already blogged about it and OLDaily’d, so you’ve most likely already watched it but if not, go check it out.


cc licensed ( BY NC SA ) flickr photo shared by Giulia Forsythe

I’m realizing now that each of these presentations should be their own blog post, but this is the kind of thinking that prevents me from blogging at all.

So I’m going to hurry this along with shorter descriptions in hopes that I will revisit these in greater detail in the future.

Next up was Daniel Colón talking about Building the (immensely successful) Online Scientific Community, CiencaPR.org.


cc licensed ( BY NC SA ) flickr photo shared by Giulia Forsythe

This was followed by another brilliant scientist, Adrián Cerezo who made the ambitious claim How Babies to fix the Economy, Improve Society and Save the World.


cc licensed ( BY NC SA ) flickr photo shared by Giulia Forsythe

Thankfully at this point there was a 30 minute break, where I was able to put some finishing touches on all the drawings.

After the break, the second TED video was played. This time they chose the classic 2010 Jane McGonigal TED talk, Gaming Can Make a Better World.


cc licensed ( BY NC SA ) flickr photo shared by Giulia Forsythe

Abél Mendez then gave a great talk about Prototype Habitable Exoplanets and the science behind locating nice new places for us to live in the future.


cc licensed ( BY NC SA ) flickr photo shared by Giulia Forsythe

Then we heard from Guifre Tort, as he shared the principles behind his initiative antrocket.com, a Puerto Rican crowd funding site: The World is Changing.


cc licensed ( BY NC SA ) flickr photo shared by Giulia Forsythe

Then came the inimitable Gardner Campbell who wanted to take a moment to talk to us about learning about learning, thinking about thinking: Wisdom as a Learning Outcome. Gardner’s talks are always deep cognitive dives for me and even with all 100% of my attention focused on him, I still spend a great deal of time reflecting and revisiting them. It was extremely unfortunate then, as you can imagine, that I had to leave in the middle of this talk to go get the microphone hook up for my own talk, which was to be immediately following Gardner. This did not stop me from drawing, however, I continued to madly taking notes back stage.

I definitely want to write more about this talk in another post but for now I’ll just say that fittingly, I had to wait for the video to finish the drawing as the app crashed and I lost the original drawing somehow. I say this is fitting because the complexity of this talk was extremely hard to do justice in one listen. I actually have probably watched this talk about 5 times now. I’m not complaining; it’s fascinating content and I love his voice (and his teacher’s, as you will see).


cc licensed ( BY NC SA ) flickr photo shared by Giulia Forsythe

Then finally, I was able to take the stage. I talked a bit about the learning theories behind why visual notetaking works for me and went through and showed the drawings I had done that morning. I had to just show the titles for the last three talks but I tried to pull together the themes as a summary for the day.


cc licensed ( BY SA ) flickr photo shared by Alan Levine

2 thoughts on “Drawing TEDx, Talking Visual Notes

  1. Derek Bruff

    Wow. Live drawing a TEDx conference? I’m impressed. That would intimidate the heck out of me. I’m not ready for that, but it’s clear you are! Very impressive captures!

  2. Greg Rodrigo

    I have a proposal for you with regards to the upcoming Advancing Learning Conference. Wondering if you could email me so that I can send more details, please. Thanks!

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