The best ideas of IdeaFestival 2014

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In the world of information technology, one idea has the potential to revolutionize the industry. Sometimes it takes a gathering of ideas and thought-provoking individuals to collaborate and produce a proposal or vision that will make an impact on everyone pursuing a career in information technology. Nowhere is this more evident than at IdeaFestival, a convention that's described as celebration for these who are intellectually curious.

IdeaFestival is essentially where innovators of today and the ground​-breakers of tomorrow get together to discuss and analyze current trends in the information technology market, as well as where they feel the industry is headed. Since its inception in 2000, the gathering has been hosted every year in Louisville, in the iconic Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts. This year's event took place from Sept. 27 to Oct. 4, where more than 600 attendees took part in a week entailing guest lectures, interactive seminars and showcases of the latest companies and ideas changing the state of information technology. Everyone from Fortune 500 CEOs to high school students were on hand to take part in the festivities, and here are some of the highlights that took place during IdeaFestival 2014:

Average Is Over
One of the more anticipated keynote speakers who addressed attendees during IdeaFestival was Tyler Cowen, a professor from George Mason University, who is also considered one of the most influential economists working today. His message to those in the audience was simple: average is over. Cowen elaborated how employees and companies in the information technology field are either doing extraordinarily well or not great at all, specifically due to the overall competitiveness of the IT market. Much of Cowen's lecture could have been interpreted as rather bleak and gloomy, but he emphasized how there is practically no ceiling for IT workers in terms of reaching prosperity today.

"There has never before been more opportunity," Cowen addressed during his speech. "The best education had never been better. The highest earners have never earned more."

Hour of Code
As Cowen elaborated, the future heavily depends on the IT skills of tomorrow's employees, which means that those pursuing their online information technology degree are facing a daunting, yet potentially flourishing field. No organization was more determined to get this point across at IdeaFestival than Hour of Code, a non-profit group that's dedicated to encouraging today's youth to get more involved in computer science.

Hour of Code offers kids an exclusive chance to take part in free one-hour tutorial sessions that assist them in writing their first lines of computer code. The organization already has tutorial lessons available in more than 30 different languages, and currently estimates that they've reached more than 10 million kids from over 180 countries around the world. The creators of Hour of Code were on hand at IdeaFestival to help spread awareness of their cause, and allowed attendees to take a shot at writing code for themselves.

Smarter Than You Think
Everyone is well aware of how advancements in technology can make life drastically easier, but what does this ever changing digital age actually mean for our intelligence? Clive Thompson, a technology journalist and author of "Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Lives for the Better," stated his case to the IdeaFestival crowd that new technology is helping us become overall better thinkers. From the ways social media helps us connect to today's most innovative thinkers to how utilizing technology prompts us to become more thoughtful in our actions, Thompson alluded to how power in numbers is especially achievable through technology.

"One of the great delights of our modern age is that it decreases our isolation," Thompson said in his lecture. "When we think together, we think better."

The seminar was one of many that took place at IdeaFestival that truly emphasized the importance of utilizing the technology of today to change the future of tomorrow. 

This article is sponsored by Western Governors University, a nonprofit, accredited, online university. WGU offers bachelor's and master's online degree programs in IT. To find out more, please visit www.wgu.edu/wisecareers_IT.

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