More Comparisons to TED Talks

Though I’ve certainly heard the comparison over the past few years, there seems to be some kind of weird groundswell/critical mass of comparisons between Nerd Nite and TED Talks.  Just in the last two days I’ve had eight unrelated people ask me how Nerd Nite compares to TED Talks.  Unfortunately, my reply isn’t usually particularly flattering for the good people at TED, and, frankly, I’m kind of afraid to put my common answer into writing.  TED Talks has done a fantastic job of cultivating an astronomically large worldwide following, and that is certainly to be commended.  Being able to attract the most upper of the upper crust is quite laudable and will always encourage a tremendous amount of coverage.  But what I’ve been hearing lately is that Nerd Nite is somehow starting to push TED to evolve its content.  It seems – and this only what I’ve heard, not seen first-hand – TED has kind of painted itself into a corner of only being able to get the top .1% of the top .1% of presenters in the world and that it has created an impossibly high standard to maintain.  After all, there’s only one Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Malcolm Gladwell, and President Bill Clinton.  So how does TED maintain its quality of presenters?  So apparently, according to what I’ve been hearing, this is the void that Nerd Nite is filling – Nerd Nite is more for the common man.

A lot of past Nerd Nite attendees have enjoyed the fact that it’s an informal atmosphere in which everyone can drink and socialize while learning (and only pay $0-$10 instead of $6,000).  They seem to enjoy having a cocktail or four while hearing a funny-yet-smart presentation.  And, in particular, when a presentation is given charismatically and humorously, it’s all the better.  And I’ve been told that it is in fact the content of TED Talks that has been suffering recently.  Which I guess makes sense.  I suppose when an organization puts a lot of established millionaires on a stage for 18 minutes that the content won’t be particularly novel or controversial because those folks all have a lot to lose by going too far, whereas the typical Nerd Nite presenter is often at the beginning of his or her career and is trying to get into a more prestigious position.

So I just want to thank all of the up-and-comers around the world who keep coming to Nerd Nite, as it seems our audience is the next generation; hungry, scrappy; innovative, etc.  Thanks for all the support…there’s a lot more to come!

Matt

-And by the way, I’m sure the folks at TED Talks have no idea what Nerd Nite is (I feel like Nerd Nite is a garage band that infrequently gets compared to The Beatles) so I guess this post didn’t upset anyone over there.  We certainly know our place in the world.  And obviously TED is a great organization for sharing great content across the globe.  Keep up the good work, TED!

MTV casting call for younger nerds

A producer from MTV asked me to let you know about a casting call for a new show they’re working on.  Here’s the casting call notice:

Attention nerds: Live in NYC? Wanna be on MTV? MTV is looking to meet big and interesting personalities… especially NERDS!!! You should currently live in/around NYC, appear between the ages of 18-22 years old and feel comfortable being and sharing yourself on-camera. Please email a recent picture along with a brief description of yourself and what you’re all about to: 

Nerd Nite NYC Speed Dating SOLD OUT on Feb 11

Just want to let you know that both the fellas and lasses tickets are now sold out for Nerd Nite speed dating on Feb 11.   Maybe we’ll host more speed dating in March since this one had so much demand.  Thoughts?

Girls sold out for Nerd Nite NYC Speed Dating on February 11

Yowzers – the smart and sassy lassies of NYC are on the prowl. 25 single ladies have already snatched up all the lasses-looking-for-fellas Nerd Nite speed dating tickets for February 11 at Galapagos in DUMBO.  So fellas, there are still a few tickets left…buy them now because you’re in demand!

Fellas can buy tickets ($25 – includes regular Nerd Nite) here: http://www.ticketweb.com/t3/sale/SaleEventDetail?dispatch=loadSelectionData&eventId=3423415

Nerd Nite Speed Dating back in February 2011

Hey fella, come find that smart sassy lass who’s been looking so hard for you all winter. Hey lass, here’s your chance to find that fine smart fella with whom you can share another glorious springtime! So yes, come to Nerd Nite on Friday February 11th for our first speed dating event in 2011. Then stick around for presentations about Thomas Paine, how false memories can improve real ones, and adult virgins in America (a perfect pre-Valentine’s Day presentation!).

Speed daters, buy tickets ($25 – includes regular Nerd Nite) here
Non-daters, buy tickets ($10) here

Friday February 11, 2011.   Doors at 6:30pm for Speed Dating
Regular Nerd Nite starts at 9pm, doors at 8:30pm

Galapagos Art Space (DUMBO)
16 Main Street
Brooklyn, NY

Science Channel documentary Punkin Chunkin sponsoring next Nerd Nites

Hey everyone, I just wanted to let you all know that the Science Channel will air a documentary about Punkin Chunkin on Thanksgiving night at 8pm.  But I also want to let you know that Science Channel is sponsoring all the remaining October and November Nerd Nites throughout North America to help spread the word.  So come to any Nerd Nite and get free stuff, watch a clip, and learn about flying pumpkins.  Fun!

Tickets still available for fellas Nerd Nite Speed Dating

Friday June 11 represents our last Nerd Nite speed dating until October at the earliest.  25 lasses.  25 fellas.   50 racing aortas.  Fellas tickets are still for sale.  June presentations include the magical, misunderstood world of homebrew Nintendo DS software, the music industry’s movement from entire CD’s to individual song downloads, and the case for and future of medical marijuana in New York State.

Fellas: Tickets for Hetero Speed Dating + Nerd Nite on Friday June 11 at 7pm ($25):  http://www.smarttix.com/show.aspx?showcode=NER62

Nerd Nite Chicago – Thursday June 3, 2010

OK, my fellow nerds & fans of nerd, here it comes: the first ever Nerd Nite Chicago!  Our venue at the California Clipper couldn’t be more friendly and nerdtacular; just get the bartender talking and you’ll see what I mean. Talk titles are settling down, but for sure we’ll have talks from NN-Boston veterans, to set the tone for those who take the stage next.

Nerd Nite Chicago
Thursday, June 3, 2010 at 8:00pm
The California Clipper (Augusta & California)
1002 N. California Ave.
Chicago, IL

LeBron Getting Booed and the Cavs Blowout Home Loss to Boston

This is an email I just sent to Chris (yes, we do talk about sports, particularly Cleveland sports as you’ve learned from my book and my Nerd Nite presentations) about the Cavs getting destroyed by the Celtics last night.  Chris asked me if the blowout was due to Boston’s defense, to which I replied:

I’m just not sure.  I guess he’s being defended well by Pierce, and they seem to be clogging the middle, but if that’s the whole story then Pierce should be handed the playoffs MVP award right now, even if they lose to Orlando.  Lebron’s last two games have been horrendous.  He tried to penetrate a bit yesterday in the 2nd quarter but kind of gave up after getting fouled a couple of times.  He needs to knock down some jumpers so they stop sagging on him and packing the paint.  Also, our defense has been awful.  Granted, when KG hits 9 fade-away turn-around jumpers and Ray Ray is knocking down 3’s with hands in his face there’s nothing much you can do, but still..geez…just awful.  I couldn’t believe how many offensive rebounds and 2nd-chance points the Celtics got against what is supposed to be the best rebounding team in the league.  That’s what broke the game open – Boston getting offensive rebounds on its first two possessions in the 2nd half and then kicking to Allen for those back-to-back 3’s.  suddenly a 6-point deficit at the half was a 12-point deficit 50 seconds into the 2nd half.  That made the Cavs panic and kind of sealed their fate.  All because they had played good defense initially but couldn’t get a rebound.

What’s interesting is that Lebron said something last night during his post-game press conference about not understanding why the fans booed during the game.  He actually said something like, “We were playing hard and giving effort, so that’s all we can do and therefore the crowd should respect that.”  Umm…if he really is considering going to New York or LA or Chicago, or even the Nets, what does he think is going to happen there if he has a clunker of a game?  Sabathia told him in November, “There’s nothing like winning a championship in New York.”  Well maybe Lebron should also talk to John Starks, Isiah Thomas, or Javier Vasquez and hear what they think about losing in New York.   If Lebron didn’t like getting mildly booed (for the first time in his career) he better stay as far away from New York as possible or he’ll be a shell of himself by next summer.  Sure, this is the first time he’s had all the pressure on his shoulders, but what does he think is going to happen next year if he’s with the Knicks?  Everyone hypes up all the hype and attention he’ll get if he goes to a larger market but I’ve never once seen an article mentioned the negatives that go along with that if he doesn’t bring a championship.  Lebron seems to be in a shell right now yet he’s incubated in the most ideal setting possible (sort of like Manny Ramirez was before he went to Boston).  If he loses in New York in his first season the media will pounce and start to kill its golden goose.

Why the Winter Olympics are Boring

Why the Winter Olympics are Boring
by Matt Wasowski (based on the presentation I gave at Nerd Nite on Friday)

I walked into my bedroom last night and instinctively turned the TV to SportsCenter as I readied for bed.  And that’s when the anchor, recapping Bode Miller’s bronze medal-winning race in the downhill, said a mouthful by saying only a few words, “He won by .09 seconds.  That’s less than the length of a ski.”

“Wow!  What an amazing, heart-stopping finish that must have been,” I thought to myself.  I hadn’t seen any Winter Olympics highlights all day, so I immediately turned my gaze to the television, giddy to see the moving images of Miller dueling it out on the descent, only to watch him get bested by such a miniscule margin.  I couldn’t wait to see what surely must have been an exhilarating finish.

But then I realized why I hadn’t sought out any Winter Olympics highlights all day, despite watching the news and checking espn.com numerous times – because the Winter Olympics are incredibly boring and anticlimactic.

Way too many of the actual events of the Winter Olympics simply, and boringly, consist of one person racing against a clock – not actual competitors.  The luge boasts one person hurtling down a twisting track at breakneck speed.  Same for the bobsled, though it’s one team instead of one athlete.  The snowboarding half-pipe shows-off one competitor careening along the scooped-out innards of a mountain – alone.   The ski jump launches one – and only one – daredevil into thin air.  Even the much beloved figure skating only permits one person or pair to be on the ice.  And of course, Miller’s downhill event is one man skiing solo down a mountain.  With only one athlete or team competing at one time in an event, the drama is all but removed.

We only need to look at most viewers’ favorite Olympics memories.

In the 100-meter butterfly finals of the 2008 Beijing games, Michael Phelps created one of the greatest Olympic memories of all-time when he chased down Milorad Cavic and touched him out by the length of less than a finger.  In those same Beijing games, the world watched in awe as Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt blew away his competition in the 100-meter dash, as audiences around the globe could see nearly 15 meters of open track between Bolt and his closest competitor.  And many Americans will never forget the 1992 ‘Dream Team’s’ 68-point drubbing of poor Angola or the 1984 Summer games in Los Angeles when Mary Decker Slaney was seemingly tripped by Zola Budd in the 3,000 meters.  These are some of the most distinctive memories of any Olympics – Summer Olympics, that is.

But how many truly iconic Winter Olympic memories are there?  Besides the 1980 ‘Miracle-on-Ice’ hockey team’s upset over the USSR; not many.  In fact, arguably the second most memorable winter games moment might have been when Tonya Harding’s goon took out Nancy Kerrigan’s knee – and that wasn’t even during an Olympics!  That scandal actually happened during the U.S. Figure Skating Championships which preceded the Lillehammer Games.  And that’s my point –  in order to make a truly memorable winter games moment, it took these two particular athletes who normally compete alone on the ice to actually physically ‘compete’ against each other at the same time.

When the world watched Phelps beat Cavic by .01 seconds, the worldwide audience, thanks to slow-motion replays, could truly see just how impossibly brief, and thrilling, .01 seconds is.  In the case of Bolt’s sprinting, the world could understand how truly gigantic .3 seconds can be.  And when watching Team USA dominate Angola, the world could truly grasp the prowess of a basketball team that featured the likes of Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, AND Magic Johnson.

Competing against an opponent makes any sport better.  It’s one thing to watch Lebron James dunk while all alone on a fast break, but it’s another thing to watch Lebron James dunk in traffic over Tim Duncan.  It’s one thing to watch David Tyree catch a pass from Eli Manning in the middle of the field during warm-ups, but it’s another thing to watch David Tyree catch pass from Eli Manning in the middle of the field during the Super Bowl with Rodney Harrison draped all over him.  Even in literature, any great protagonist needs an equally great foil.

So last night as I excitedly turned my gaze to the TV to watch the reply of a great athlete lose by “less than the length of a ski,” I was justifiably disheartened to see an image of Miller crossing the finish line all by his lonesome.  Turns out there was nearly an hour between when he finished his run and when Switzerland’s Didier Defago, the downhill gold medalist, finished his.  What could have been another iconic Olympics moment – the three medalists crossing the finish line within four feet of each other – was simply another hum-drum moment of an entire Olympics that is inherently designed to feature almost exclusively hum-drum moments.

With lugers and bobsledders and downhill skiers routinely winning by hundredths of a second, it’s a shame that the viewers will never truly get a sense of how unfathomably close these races really are.  Imagine sprinting for 90 seconds and losing in the amount of time it takes to snap your fingers.

Too bad we’ll never see a more compelling Winter Olympics until the IOC or some wacky extreme athlete creates a wider sledding track that accommodates multiple sleds, adds a few adjacent ski jumps (how cool would it be to watch four ski jumpers soaring at the same time?), or clears out a wider ski slope that can fit eight athletes at once like an outdoor track.  Only then will the Winter Olympics have a chance to create thrilling finishes that will be remembered for generations.  Until then, we’ll watch yet another person run the race of his or her life, only to find out hours later if he or she won.  Now that’s a slippery slope.

I walked into my bedroom last night and instinctively turned the TV to SportsCenter as I readied for bed. And that’s when the anchor, recapping Bode Miller’s bronze medal-winning race in the downhill, said a mouthful by saying only a few words, “He won by .09 seconds. That’s less than the length of a ski.”

“Wow! What an amazing, heart-stopping finish that must have been,” I thought to myself. I hadn’t seen any Winter Olympics highlights all day, so I immediately turned my gaze to the television, giddy to see the moving images of Miller dueling it out on the descent, only to watch him get bested by such a miniscule margin. I couldn’t wait to see what surely must have been an exhilarating finish.

But then I realized why I hadn’t sought out any Winter Olympics highlights all day, despite watching the news and checking espn.com numerous times – because the Winter Olympics are incredibly boring and anticlimactic.

Way too many of the actual events of the Winter Olympics simply, and boringly, consist of one person racing against a clock – not actual competitors. The luge boasts one person hurtling down a twisting track at breakneck speed. Same for the bobsled, though it’s one team instead of one athlete. The snowboarding half-pipe shows-off one competitor careening along the scooped-out innards of a mountain – alone. The ski jump launches one – and only one – daredevil into thin air. Even the much beloved figure skating only permits one person or pair to be on the ice. And of course, Miller’s downhill event is one man skiing solo down a mountain. With only one athlete or team competing at one time in an event, the drama is all but removed.

We only need to look at most viewers’ favorite Olympics memories.

In the 100-meter butterfly finals of the 2008 Beijing games, Michael Phelps created one of the greatest Olympic memories of all-time when he chased down Milorad Cavic and touched him out by the length of less than a finger. In those same Beijing games, the world watched in awe as Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt blew away his competition in the 100-meter dash, as audiences around the globe could see nearly 15 meters of open track between Bolt and his closest competitor. And many Americans will never forget the 1992 ‘Dream Team’s’ 68-point drubbing of poor Angola or the 1984 Summer games in Los Angeles when Mary Decker Slaney was seemingly tripped by Zola Budd in the 3,000 meters. These are some of the most distinctive memories of any Olympics – Summer Olympics, that is.

But how many truly iconic Winter Olympic memories are there? Besides the 1980 ‘Miracle-on-Ice’ hockey team’s upset over the USSR; not many. In fact, arguably the second most memorable winter games moment might have been when Tonya Harding’s goon took out Nancy Kerrigan’s knee – and that wasn’t even during an Olympics! That scandal actually happened during the U.S. Figure Skating Championships which preceded the Lillehammer Games. And that’s my point – in order to make a truly memorable winter games moment, it took these two particular athletes who normally compete alone on the ice to actually physically ‘compete’ against each other at the same time.

When the world watched Phelps beat Cavic by .01 seconds, the worldwide audience, thanks to slow-motion replays, could truly see just how impossibly brief, and thrilling, .01 seconds is. In the case of Bolt’s sprinting, the world could understand how truly gigantic .3 seconds can be. And when watching Team USA dominate Angola, the world could truly grasp the prowess of a basketball team that featured the likes of Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, AND Magic Johnson.

Competing against an opponent makes any sport better. It’s one thing to watch Lebron James dunk while all alone on a fast break, but it’s another thing to watch Lebron James dunk in traffic over Tim Duncan. It’s one thing to watch David Tyree catch a pass from Eli Manning in the middle of the field during warm-ups, but it’s another thing to watch David Tyree catch pass from Eli Manning in the middle of the field during the Super Bowl with Rodney Harrison draped all over him.

So last night as I excitedly turned my gaze to the TV to watch the reply of a great athlete lose by “less than the length of a ski,” I was justifiably disheartened to see an image of Miller crossing the finish line all by his lonesome. Turns out there was nearly an hour between when he finished his run and when Switzerland’s Didier Defago, the downhill gold medalist, finished his. What could have been another iconic Olympics moment – the three medalists crossing the finish line within four feet of each other – was simply another hum-drum moment of an entire Olympics that is inherently designed to feature almost exclusively hum-drum moments.

With lugers and bobsledders and downhill skiers routinely winning by hundredths of a second, it’s a shame that the viewers will never truly get a sense of how unfathomably close these races really are. Imagine sprinting for 90 seconds and losing in the amount of time it takes to snap your fingers.

Too bad we’ll never see a more compelling Winter Olympics until the IOC or some wacky extreme athlete creates a wider sledding track that accommodates multiple sleds, adds a few adjacent ski jumps (how cool would it be to watch four ski jumpers soaring at the same time?), or clears out a wider ski slope that can fit eight athletes at once like an outdoor track. Only then will the Winter Olympics have a chance to create thrilling finishes that will be remembered for generations. Until then, we’ll watch yet another person run the race of his or her life, only to find out hours later if he or she won. Now that’s a slippery slope.