Jesse Harding: Ignite Salt Lake | 5 Spot | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly

Jesse Harding: Ignite Salt Lake 

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Web designer Jesse Harding (front row, right) founded Ignite Salt Lake (, which hosts periodic “geek” gatherings. Salt Lake’s third event takes place Thursday, Aug. 20, 6-10 p.m., at Murray Theater at 4959 S. State.

Why Ignite Salt Lake?
Ignite has been described as the Twitter version of the TED Conference. We give 16 speakers the chance to talk about something/anything they are passionate about for five minutes each. No other conference gives you the chance to learn a little bit about so much, so quickly. In seeing the excitement/creativity with which our speakers explain their passions, your own creativity will be ignited.

Is it just for geeks? Anything for Luddites?
There are definitely some totally geeky talks, but we try to select a good diverse mixture of speakers/topics so that nerds and Luddites alike will have a good time.

Why the love affair with PowerPoint?
PowerPoint is still the best cross-platform presentation software for this type of event. I’d love to use Keynote or something more hip, but we find that over 50 percent of our speakers are on a PC, and Keynote is only available on Mac. We basically just need a way to advance through slides automatically and PowerPoint does the job. It’s also quite interesting to see how creative folks approach the constraint of being asked to use antiquated software.

Don’t many complex ideas deserve more consideration than just five minutes, 20 PowerPoint slides and 15 seconds per slide?
Yes! Ignite is meant to be a quick intro to lots of different ideas. We hope our attendees leave with a list of things/people that they want to find out more about. That’s one of the reasons we leave a lot of open time for networking. Take the time to meet the speakers who fascinated you most. Find out what he or she is all about and how you can get involved in what they are doing.

Are humans at risk of becoming shallow?
I think we’re always at risk of getting so comfortable with our present situation that we don’t branch out. We naturally fear change and that puts us in jeopardy of becoming stagnant and, yes, shallow. Life is an escalator. If you’re not progressing forward, you are moving backwards. This is one of the reasons that I love events like Ignite. Ignite gives us a chance to learn things we hadn’t thought about and meet people we might not have ever come in contact with otherwise. What we do with that opportunity is up to each of us.

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