Human, All too Human.

All Too Human. What does it mean?

We’ll get to that.

Early last spring, four students met in an eclectic library over wine and homemade bread to decide the theme for this year’s TEDxIU conference. Creative juices flowing, Dmitry Simakov, Christopher Podlaski, Rachael Shapiro, and Kevin Schmidt began the process that would take months to finally determine a conference theme – a theme that would guide our conference into the stimulatingly intellectual event we’ve all come to expect.

The Theme: All Too Human.

Though, it wasn’t as easy as simply opening the wine and eating the bread; many ideas were inevitably thrown into the air and out the window.

51mp4tejmhl-_sx336_bo1204203200_One ditched theme was Constant Interrogation. At the time, Dmitry had been reading “Between the World and Me” by Ta-Nehisi Coates, which inspired the potential theme. In his book, Coates narrates his efforts to understand his racially influenced identity by saying how his whole life is a constant interrogation, ever-questioning why things are the way they are.

Knowing the background, the phrase seemed deep and introspective. But as a soundbite taken out of context, it felt harsh and invasive – so the team moved it to the archives.

Next in line was the prospective theme The Line. As Dmitry explains, “We were looking for something heavy” or something “shorter, sweeter, and more impactful” than last year’s theme of Eyes on the Stars, Feet on the Ground. The four figured that The Line emphasized society’s constant obligation to keep itself in check as innovation and forward movement persists. Rachael mentioned that today, “there’s a lot of potential for [ethically] crossing the line.” The theme could apply to a multitude of talks that address innovations nearing The Line.

9781435107854_p0_v1_s1200x630But this too was scrapped for the prevailing phrase of All too Human. The theme ultimately ideates from a book sitting in Kevin Schmidt’s library: “Human, All too Human” by Friedrich Nietzsche. To Kevin, the theme opens up the floor for potential TED Talks demonstrating various aspects of humanity. The theme prompts questions such as What does it mean to be human? and as Kevin interprets, How to we overcome our base instincts to grow and move forward as the world’s inhabitants?

Chris Podlaski further interprets it as an inspiration for “a sense of ownership over our future.” The phrase All too Human, for him, not only prompts the question of What does it mean to be human? It also prompts the question of What has it meant to be human in the past? And how can we evolve past that to better the human race?

Though the process wasn’t easy, it’s finally over. And now it is up to you to interpret the phrase All too Human.

What does it mean to be human? All too Human.