Madara Rudzite on the “x” in TEDx.

Be it the cold nights in Edinburgh, when many of us should be working on our university dissertations, that are instead spent on “productive procrastination”, or one of the many on-campus promo campaigns we have run this year (even though making people guess the meaning of passion fruit, the unofficial symbol of the conference, may have gone one step too far), but as we rush through the semester, TED has hopefully crossed the minds of many. And with so many paths we take — to lectures, tutorials, George Sq gardens, job interviews, dates, life, ...— over 700 will cross at our conference next Tuesday. So what exactly will happen?

People will sit next to friends and strangers, listen to 10 [supercalifragilisticexpialidociously wonderful, exciting and inspiring] TED talks, engage with science, chocolate, virtual reality and many things that fall in between, have lunch, listen to more TED talks, wander off, end up at home, and will resume their daily routines the following day. But just for a moment, paths of a couple of hundred of people will meet at crossroads. And what we take away from that encounter, is, of course, up to us. An inspiration, an idea, commitment to action or simply a good story to tell friends — we’ll see. But on Tuesday, the job of the volunteer team (including myself) will be to set the stage for those crossroads, because we are the “x” in TEDx. “X” marks the spot and quite literally multiplies whatever is on the either side. It is the random encounters that leave a mark, and we can just hope that at there will be at least a couple next week.

Many people are keen to come for the “TED experience” and and inspiration drawn from the talks so many of us have seen on our screens. But next Tuesday will be as much about TED, as about the “x”. So wear comfortable shoes for the conference next Tuesday— who knows which path will you take?