Ignite Burns Bright in the Hacker Underground
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Ignite Burns Bright in the Hacker Underground

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It’s not hard to get a bunch of webheads together in Toronto. All you need to do is rent out the basement of the Drake Hotel, plug in a projector and a mic, and hold an origami competition.
Ignite is held in cities all over the world in an attempt “to capture the best of geek culture.” It’s no surprise the thirteen talks at last night’s Ignite Toronto (the second in the city) were heavily themed towards social networking and online community building.
The central conceit of Ignite is the speed presentation: every speaker had just five minutes and a slide deck that advanced every fifteen seconds. As speakers have no control over their slides, sometimes they become rushed or are forced into uncomfortable silences. Still, it’s all part of the fun.

Some of the highlights included Corey Reid, whose talk drawing parallels between software development and Hong Kong kung-fu movie tropes included a slide subtitled “Bruce Lee is kicking that man in the nuts.”
“I actually don’t have anything to say about that,” he admitted.
Leigh Honeywell of hacklab.to also gave a breathlessly rapid-fire talk in which she revealed that Seth Hardy, a co-founder of the collective, had hooked the hacklab toilet up to Twitter. (It doesn’t seem to work anymore, though. I think that’s called a cistern failure.)

A flock of origami cranes.

Oh, and as for the origami competition, it was inspired by the Japanese legend that says anyone who makes a thousand paper cranes would be granted one wish. Nobody managed to make that many, but three people won prizes. Torontoist did have a go, but owing to lack of spatial ability, managed to get the bird both upside-down and the wrong way around, and if the crane had granted any wish, it would be for euthanasia.
If you want the public reaction to the talks, Twitter is obviously the place to be, under the hashtag #igniteTO. There will be another Ignite event in the new year.
Photographs by James Kachan, courtesy of IgniteTO.

CORRECTION: NOVEMBER 29, 2009 This article originally mistakenly claimed that Leigh Honeywell had connected hacklab’s toilet up to Twitter herself; in fact, the project was the work of Seth Hardy, another member of the hacklab collective.