A mashup of technologists, entrepreneurs, artists, and activists gathered at Cinespace on March 1 for the 2nd annual Ignite LA. Founded in 2006 by Brady Forrest, Ignite kicked off in Seattle as a platform where people from diverse backgrounds could share their academic and creative visions. Now a week long global event, Ignite takes place in over 60 cities on six different continents.
Ignite LA's eclectic mix of 13 presenters covered topics ranging from music and machines, to remote viewing to documentary film making, to social action, to why it's so weird being a cyborg, just to name a few. Each speaker shared his or her ideas and passions in five minute segments, using 20 slides at 15-second intervals. Here are a few talks that caught our eyes and ears.
"The Whims and Wisdom of a Cyborg"
Well-known for founding the intellectualized Meeting of the Minds (MOTM) events and the civic engagement smart phone app Citysourced, Kurt Daradics (a.k.a Kurty D) shared his perspective on "what's so weird about being a cyborg" for the first time in public.
Born without ear canals, Kurty endured a major hearing impairment for a good portion of his life, and quietly learned how to read lips while sitting in the classroom. Then one miraculous day in March 2007, he experienced corrective surgery that entailed the drilling of a titanium post through his skull.
Lacing his presentation with jokes about going through metal detectors and suddenly being able to hear his fornicating neighbors, Kurty received plenty of laughs. However, the deeper message he communicated was that from his operation he learned that life isn't about hearing; It's about listening.
"The weirdest thing about being a cyborg is noticing that people are literally giving themselves away, but we don't always take the time to interpret that," Kurty shared. "Communication is so key, and being present is so important. It's about making eye contact and empathetically walking in other people's shoes when you're talking to them."
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In addition to this insight, Kurty says he's learned the value of being different. When he was growing up, he was teased a lot for his hearing condition.
"Now that I'm older I realize that I can use being different to my advantage, not in a manipulative sense, but more as a way to touch and inspire people to overcome adversity," said Kurty. "Being a cyborg is great. I highly recommend it."