Posts Tagged ‘ramona pringle’

Today I did something different. I tweeted 22 times which is about 20 more than I do any other day. There should have actually been a few more tweets than that but my phone started getting a “lost connection” error which I suspect means I went over my data limit of 100mb per month. Well, it was worth it.

The reason for this tweet’sc’pade (is that a word?) was that today I for my first time, attended TEDxRyersonU. For those unfamiliar with what-the-heck that is, let me break it down.

TED = A large organization dedicated to bringing together excellent subject matter experts to conduct speeches on a variety of topics. Their talks are riveting, inspirational, and highly regarded. Their slogan is ideas worth spreading. If you have never watched a TED talk, go check it out. I mean it.

x = Just the letter x, this means that this is an independently organized event with no assistance from the people at TED. However, the event is created using the TED brand and the organizers must follow a set of guidelines to ensure the event is consistent with TED.

RyersonU = The independent organizers, in this case Ryerson University located in Toronto. An absolutely incredible place to attend (with no bias on my part as an alumni).

Overall the conference had 19 different speakers, 4 of which were videos being streamed from (1 of which was in the audience however). Needless to say, it would be a bit overwhelming for me to talk about all 19 in detail (for both me to write and you to read); so what I am going to do is talk in detail about my three favourite speakers. Since that alone will be quite extensive, I will leave this blog post (part 1) at that. In part 2, I will give a brief overview of all the other speakers and the role social media played in the conference (my immediate thoughts at the time on all but the last three speakers are on my Twitter stream).

My Top 3 Favourites (In Speaking Order)

#1) Ramona Pringle: Real Wisdom from Virtual Worlds

Ramona PringleRamona Pringle is an enterprising interactive storyteller, earning accolades for her work across the multimedia landscape. She is on the New Media faculty at Ryerson University and recently completed production on a pilot called The Real Lives of Avatars, which chronicles the lives of online gamers and digital media citizens.

Ramona spoke in the second session (In Other Worlds) and her topic was about gaming and how virtual worlds such as World of Warcraft are playing a role in developing real life experiences. Having formerly attended BlizzConn, (a large conference hosted by Blizzard Entertainment for their games) Ramona had one of her first experiences seeing how deeply involved players were able to relate to both their characters and each other. Anyone who already plays or played these types of games (such as myself) knows that the time you spend with your avatar makes you develop a relationship and an understanding of that character. Your real life and your virtual one have become intertwined. The people you meet inside the game world are no different either. Their relationships with their characters exist, and when your avatar meets theirs, it’s still two individuals connecting. At one point, Ramona recounted the time she heard the story of a couple who met on World of Warcraft while living in completely different countries, and ended up getting married. Their adventures online gave their relationship a feeling of Renaissance magic that simply doesn’t exist in the real world. Would they have met if not for World of Warcraft? Probably not.

But Ramona’s talk wasn’t just about virtual worlds developing personal relationships. It also had to do with how they influence you as an individual, and as a professional. Ramona had originally ventured into the lands of Azeroth (the planet that World of Warcraft takes place on) out of a feeling of something missing in her life, having recently moved to a new city and suffered a breakup. The journey was slow, and she enlisted the help of a game guide to adventure with her. Together, playing on her Avatar “Tristanova” and paired up with her Night Elf game guide, the two embarked on many quests and adventures. As Gwen progressed through the game, she noticed the interactions although virtual, were causing her to feel real emotions. From the sadness at killing her first virtual animal to the relief which came from reuniting with her game guide (and friend) after having gotten too excited, and run off of a cliff (which is incidentally safer to do in game, just an FYI).

The adventures, eventually led Ramona to launch which outlines her experiences and how she perceives virtual worlds to intermix with the real one, in more detail. Since then, her career and productions in this field have only continued to grow with Digital Nation and other frontiers.

My Thoughts on this Talk:

As a former World of Warcraft player I was drawn to this topic. One of the things I had indeed picked up on during my time playing the game (and other games) was how I was learning about leadership, time management, finances, the economy and other very “real life” qualities. For instance, World of Warcraft contains an in-game auction house players can use to buy and sell virtual gear using money earned in the game. Rare and hard-to-get items sell for a mint while rags and low level robes are a dime a dozen. As Blizzard continued to release expansion packs which made earning in game currency easier, items which used to sell for only 10 gold, would later sell for 100, and later for 1,000. It was quite literally like experiencing the growth and inflation of an economy first hand. In Blizzard’s upcoming game Diablo III, an even more realistic auction house will exist that will allow players to buy and sell virtual items for real money. You can bet your life that some auction house guru’s from World of Warcraft will become savvy entrepreneurs opening up very real businesses using this system.

Ramona’s talk outlines the ever increasing presence that online game communities are having on societies. Where dating websites like have about 2 million registered users, World of Warcraft  has over 10 million. Like any new trend, it’s individuals and companies that leverage these games and can see the opportunities they offer that will be the ones to succeed.

Follow Ramona Pringle on Twitter.

#2) Gwen Elliot: Start Something Big

Gwen Elliot Anyone who watches Rogers TV, may recognize the name of Gwen Elliot. Gwen is a recent graduate of Ryerson’s Radio and Television program. While trying to find her dream job, Gwen started a blog which evolved into a website and eventually a television show was created which she hosts called “Start Something Big“.

Gwen was the final speaker of the third session (Discover, Grow, Dare) and she began her talk by asking us what Oprah, Mark Burnett and a couple other people had in common. The answer was that they had all managed to land their dream job of hosting something on TV. But not just hosting any show, they hosted shows that challenged others to do better – to aspire. Being a recent grad from Ryerson’s Film program, these were inspiring figures for Gwen. And being a millennial (aka Generation Y, born in-between 1981-2000), she admits that she had been blissfully delusional about her job situation after graduating. While going through that ever grueling period of waiting to land her dream job, she began to read books such as Robert Herjavek’s (from the Dragons DenDriven, and about seven others which all had to do with success. But her dream job still wasn’t coming so Gwen turned to a friend for advice whom had been starting businesses since he was 16 years old.

“How do you do it?” was the question.

The answer was that simply reading books about success was a librarian’s solution. In order to claim her dream job, she couldn’t wait around, but instead chase success down and grab the it by the horns (or tail)! Unfortunately, even doing that can take time so Gwen decided to start small; start by writing a blog. Her blog was called something along the lines of I Admit I am Delusional and from originally venting her frustrations, within a year she had used the blog to capture decision-makers attention and start her own TV show. Gwen now hosts Start Something Big, a show which details how new and successful entrepreneurs got to where they are today.

My Thoughts on this Talk:

Like Ramona’s speech, this was another one that I was easily able to relate with. Being a recent grad and a millennial myself, I have felt the struggle first hand of not being able to easily find a job in my chosen field. And I’m not alone – I can immediately think of at least five friends who have degrees, some experience and are unable to find anything as well. The situation is depressing and it becomes increasingly difficult to find motivation without inspiration. When I heard that Gwen found her inspiration and success from writing a blog, my eyes did light up a little. Not only have I found writing this blog to give me an additional purpose, but so has my friend Dan who recently started cglfgamerzreview and has now been feeling very motivated. Gwen is the ideal inspiration for many millennials.

Follow Gwen Elliot on Twitter.

#3) Josh Louie: Make Change a Reality

Josh LouieI admit, when I first scoped out the speakers list the night before the conference, to me, Josh Louie was probably the one that stuck out the least. The reason for this was simple. His online description said he was a third year business student. How could he possibly match up against a list of well accredited names such as Jeremy Kinsman, an Ambassador and International Democracy Activist,  Evgeny Tchebotarev, the co-founder of or Sheldon Levy, the Dean of Ryerson. Well, I was certainly proven wrong as Josh Louie turned out to be the most (in my opinion) inspirational out of every speaker in attendance. It’s a good thing he was the final speaker of the entire conference in session four (Re-Think). He let us finish with a bang.

Josh Louie assists at SIFE Ryerson and has spoken to the students of Parkdale Collegiate Institute, The Covenant House (homeless shelter), and Eva’s Place (emergency homeless shelter) covering a range of financial literary topics.

But the message behind Josh’s words is meaningless if you don’t know his story.

When Josh walked onto the stage he looked different from all of the other speakers. He wasn’t dressed in a suit or anything nice, he was dressed with a baseball cap and a baggy jacket like you would see on a high school gangster. He told us that in order to tell us his story he was going to take us back to 2003.

My name is Josh Louie. If you want to buy some weed or extacy then I’m your guy. My girlfriend sells guns for a living. Bloods, Crips, gangsters, bikers, I know ’em all.

Well, it was something like that. Josh did it better. I had to check Google to make sure I was spelling “extacy” right. I’m still not sure if I am.

But there’s a reason for that; Josh wasn’t making anything up. He lived the life of a street kid, he was a street kid. Thrown out of home at 17 years old, living a life of crime, drugs and all the other stuff you hear about in movies. In fact, he said we probably only had heard of his tale in the movies before and for the most part, Josh was probably right. He told us that he was lucky. It was only because of his grandmother who had taken him in and told him to “not let your past determine your future”. It was these words that had given him the chance to turn his life around; and turn he did.

Now in his third year of business management at Ryerson, an active member of SIFE Ryerson and a reformed citizen, Josh has spoken to kids who were like him giving them the chance to turn their life around.

It’s the feeling of hopelessness.” Josh recounted. “The fact that no-one cares and there are no other options.

He told us about one of his talks where he had asked everyone in the class to write down three goals they wanted to achieve. He then picked students at random to read out loud what their goals were. One student with tattoo’s on his arms hadn’t been able to come up with even one goal. Josh asked him if that meant that when he woke up in the morning, had he achieved everything he wanted to do that day? The student replied “yeah… I guess.”

“If you woke up each day and feel you have completed all your goals, maybe you aren’t planning high enough.” Josh responded.

Josh told us that later, this kid had tracked him down and told him that he had come up with a goal. It was Josh’s words that (like Josh’s own grandmother), had inspired him to realize that he could do better.

The question was posed to Josh after his speech, what concrete steps can any of us take to helping street kids? There are certainly a couple of things that we can do. If you’re still at university you can join SIFE (if your university has a chapter), and whether or not you’re at university, you can always participate in the 5k Step for Street Kids.

My Thoughts on this Talk:

This talk more than anything reinforced “to not judge a book by its cover”. I hadn’t expected much from Josh from his website profile, but I now feel like I got more from him than any other speaker. Maybe it was because he brought to my eyes an issue and an understanding that had never even crossed my attention. Maybe it was because of the magnitude and sheer passion and complete belief for what he spoke about. Whatever it was, thank you Josh for what you did.

This brings part 1 of my conference review to a close. To continue reading part 2 which covers all of the other speakers please click here.