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A day in Zee Life

Entries from our diary. 

yogg + TEDxRVA

Deer Diary,

This spring, TEDxRVA came to yogg with an intriguing problem. How can you create a collaborative Mad Lib, perhaps the largest Mad Lib ever to be conducted, at the event, and then how can you make it into something meaningful for people to take away at the end of the event? TEDxRVA 2015, an all-day speaker series, was going with the theme “Uncommon” this year, and they were going for broke. This was the third annual and largest TEDxRVA event to date, with over 1,000 attendants who gathered on April 10 at the gorgeous Carpenter Theatre at CenterStage, to share and listen to ideas worth spreading.

So about this Mad Lib. It all started with the idea of a story, a story of a traveler exploring the diverse neighborhoods of Richmond, and discovering the many uncommon aspects of our community. The TEDxRVA writing team wrote this story as a way to express this year’s uncommon theme, and knew they wanted the story to be handed out as the takeaway for the entire event. Throughout the process of writing, the TEDxRVA team came up with the idea of making the story collaborative and having participants write the story throughout the event. That’s where the Mad Lib idea came in—the TEDx team reverse-engineered their story to create fill-in-the-blanks with prompts to generate interesting and alternative answers to the story.

Here’s an example: Large bamboo fan blades turn as a woman sips 1. ___________(Beverage) on her 2. ____________(Noun) catching up on some reading.

Common (original) Answers: 1.Iced Tea 2. Balcony Uncommon Answers:1. Milkshake 2. Apple

yogg was tasked with taking this story and figuring out the format for the finished takeaway piece. To do so, we had to create a way to gather the Mad Lib answers from people attending the event, determine how to insert them into the story, and, most importantly, figure out how to do this within just a few hours and have a fully produced takeaway ready to hand attendees as they exit.

OK, well, spoiler alert, we did it. And the result was pretty uncommon, and very yogg-y.

The Mad Lib story became a series of eight posters dedicated to the eight Richmond neighborhoods through which our main character travels. Each poster tells the story of our main character exploring that particular neighborhood and we created two word banks to represent the common and uncommon answers to our prompts. The Common key contains the original answers from the story and the Uncommon key contains the answers gathered from TedxRVA attendees at check in.

How did we get the Uncommon answers?

TedxRVA collaborated with Unboxed technology to create a Mad Lib app that people could use at check-in. The app asked each participant three questions, which connected back to the prompts within the story. Then, through some special TEDx/yogg/Unboxed magic, the answers from the attendees were placed into the Uncommon key on each poster. With help from Whythken printing and all the TEDx volunteers, 1500 of these posters were handed out at the end of the TEDxRVA event. Boom! The logistics were complex but the result was worth it. We created a truly collaborative takeaway in real time. How uncommon is that!

We were truly honored to be a part of the wonderful TEDxRVA Uncommon event this year. TEDxRVA is testament to the creative and innovative spirit of our city, and, like our city, it only continues to blossom and grow each year. For more information and to order posters go to: http://www.tedxrva.com/madlib_/.


Adam Mead