Community building
without gatekeepers

October 2, 2009 | Michael Sean Wright

LeVar Burton is pretty darn close to being a real-life superhero. He encouraged millions of children to ask what Burton calls the great “what if” questions by inspiring their love for reading during his years of involvement with the television show, Reading Rainbow, which ran for 26 years on PBS.

After Gene Roddenberry offered him the role of Geordi La Forge in Star Trek: The Next Generation in 1986, Burton went on to direct episodes for each of the various Star Trek series in production. He has directed more Star Trek episodes than any other former regular cast member.

Discovering science fiction when he was a child was a turning point, and he reveled in sparking youngster’s creative imagination, Burton says. “I believe the Star Trek series must have inspired a child or children who watched it to grow up to be a scientist or engineer.”

The writer, director, actor and producer stays wired into today’s technology through Twitter, where he has more than 1.3 million followers. He says the direct, two-way conversation possible with such social media tools as Twitter is important:  “It’s without the gatekeepers being in the middle.”

That background made him an ideal participant on a conference panel called “Twitter and celebrity: A match made in heaven?” at the recent 140 | The Twitter Conference LA .

The panel was the concluding session of the first day of the 140 | The Twitter Conference LA organized by The Parnassus Group in Los Angeles, Calif., where the how-tos of Twitter and its tools for business development were discussed. The two-day conference with two dozen panel discussions brought together the worlds of business and celebrity and focused on getting the most out of the real-time Web.

Michael Sean Wright, who handled interviews for building43 at the conference, discusses with Burton the endless possibilities of imagination and inspiration. Wright, the founder of nicefishfilms, is a live documentary film maker, writer and tech nut.

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Mara October 14, 2009 at 11:44 am

I would really like to talk to you about coming to San Jose to talk to my minority high school and college students about the importance of their role in making this concept a reality.

Ileane Smith October 8, 2009 at 9:39 am

LaVar Burton talks about twitter and social networking

Alexander Ainslie October 6, 2009 at 5:43 am

Did you know: In addition to being a true mensch, LeVar is also a practicing Buddhist.

Some Dude October 5, 2009 at 12:32 pm

This guy is awesome.

james October 5, 2009 at 1:04 am

Lavar burton is proof that skin color has NOTHING TO DO with intelligence. It is so nice to hear a man of higher levels of pigmentation to speak with clarity then 99 percent of people I have ever met..including myslelf.

blacksocks October 3, 2009 at 12:59 pm

We’re all geeks! 8-)

Simon Ponder October 2, 2009 at 6:08 pm

Wow, LeVar burton had me spellbound the entire interview.

Rocky Barbanica October 2, 2009 at 3:30 pm


Marshall Kirkpatrick October 2, 2009 at 3:26 pm

Great video for listening to, too bad the video made me want to barf and the host had his back to the audience. :(

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