Slideshow Appeal

Slideshow Appeal

PowerPoint made fun.

August 05, 2010
Everybody has something they’re dying to share with the world. Anyone with computer access can announce anything online: what they had for breakfast, what their dogs are thinking, what book they read before bed last night, etc. If any in this online community of philosophers, voyeurs, and carnival barkers awakens in the middle of the night and wants to share a recent dream, they can do that, too. And they will, let there be no doubt. Everyday opinions, stories, and even nightmares can be appealing, but many are no more interesting than listening to water boil. Regardless, on August 19 at Matthews Bar & Grill, Ignite Birmingham ( will allow individuals five minutes to create enough bubbles to mesmerize an audience with a rapid-fire barrage of information on any topic imaginable. Officially billed as “Ignite Birmingham 2,” the event organizers promise it will be both enlightening and entertaining. Presenters will each show 20 slides, displayed for 15 seconds each, narrating for the audience.

“[Ignite Birmingham 2] is to give people in the city a venue to talk about their passions, ideas, and things that make them excited about Birmingham, in general, or technology,” says Henry McBride, the event’s organizer. Speakers representing a broader range of topics than those included at the first Ignite Birmingham showcase, held this past April, have requested to speak at the upcoming affair. “My favorite was one we had on cancer research at UAB,” McBride says of the first talkfest, adding, “most of them were pretty good.” Anyone who has an idea that they’re passionate about is allowed to propose presentations. “My goal is not to have only one subset of people. I don’t want all tech people or all media people,” says McBride. The speakers are selected both a committee and a public poll prior to the event. (The deadline for requests to speak at the August forum has passed.)

Wade Kwon, a local writer and currently a popular blogger whose résumé includes a decade at the Birmingham Post-Herald and a couple of years at Southern Living magazine, as well as being founder of the present Birmingham Blogging Academy, spoke at the first Ignite Birmingham event. Kwon says of Ignite Birmingham: “[It's] a great breeding ground for ideas for the community, and for the world, at large. Last time we had an age researcher, someone talking on economics, someone on government, someone talking on the Slow Food movement, someone talked about Ben Franklin, and other topics . . . The goal is to get the best, most diverse mix list of speakers possible. Each slot is only five minutes long, so you can get 15 speakers in and still have it be a reasonably short evening.”

Ignite Birmingham started in January 2010, though the “Ignite” idea has been around for several years with events around the country. According to the Ignite Birmingham “mission” statement, the notion of “Ignite” was inspired by Pecha Kucha, a Japanese concept “where speakers are given 20 slides, each shown for 20 seconds, giving each speaker 6 minutes and 40 seconds of fame.” The first Ignite took place in Seattle in 2006, “and since then the event has become an international phenomenon, with gatherings in Helsinki, Finland; Paris, France; New York, New York; and many other locations.” Wikipedia says that Pecha Kucha is “the onomatopoeic Japanese word for the sound of conversation. The equivalent English term is ‘chit-chat’.” The best element of Ignite Birmingham, as based upon the philosophy of the founders of the “Ignite” notion, is simple: “Enlighten us, but make it quick!” &

Ignite Birmingham 2, Thursday, August 19, 6 p.m. Matthews Bar & Grill, 2208 Morris Avenue. Details:

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