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TED Inspiration & Shoot the Summer

New thinking. New possibilities. New opportunities.

image credit: nguyendai

If you've already discovered TED Talks, I reckon it's likely you'll have seen the following two videos (I know, I don't mind seeing 'em again either!).

Anyway, there's a semi-skimmed version of TED that runs in the UK called TEDx.

I went to TEDxManchester where I found three notable contributors who know how to give a crackin' talk.  I'll tell you about them in a mo.

Big TED.

I love listening to great speakers, learning new things, and getting a handle on good stuff that I can use and pass on to others. In part, that's what Reallygood Thinking is about.

So I'm very grateful to have the full-cream TED conference videos available to watch anytime. They remind me there are many amazing people, with stunning ideas, doing outstanding work, and helping build a better world.

One of my faves is this talk by Ben Zander, a man full of passion, creativity, and new ways of thinking. He comes across as someone who cares deeply about people, an extremely attractive, and some might say rare, quality.

It makes me feel special just listening to BZ and I bet you'll feel it too.

This vid's a touch over 20 minutes....

This next talk is great too, for different reasons, but it's still about possibility thinking. It was the first video shown at TEDxManchester. The speaker is J.J. Abrams, a writer, director, and producer, who makes big dramas like TV's Lost, and films like Cloverfield and the new Star Trek.

These talks reflect the standard we've come to associate with TED.

World class speakers. World class ideas, knowledge, innovation from world changers. Inspiring. Hopeful.

New thinking, new possibilities, new opportunities for us all to embrace, learn from, enjoy.

Little TED.

So I was a bit surprised to find TEDxManchester's programme felt a tad short on impressive, inspirational contributors who could give us a much needed boost in these tough times. I really don't like being downbeat since I appreciate the potential opportunity a TEDx in the Northwest region of England could bring.

But with so many difficult issues and massive changes affecting our world, each of our lives, families, businesses and jobs, don't we need TEDx to give us the chance to hear more from leaders who can give us the benefit of their wisdom and experience, motivate us toward possibility thinking, and push us a bit further on through the challenges we face? 

Talking with people at TEDxManchester, I understand there's a real need for people who can show us how to make the most of what we have, and help us work together to create a better, more sustainable, more caring world.

I'm not sure TEDxManchester, composed mainly of speakers currently employed in traditional media organisations and academic jobs, really provided a sense of vision even a fraction of that for which TED is now famous. 

What I believe we got from some of the live speakers on the platform was, in my opinion, a little unremarkable, uninspiring and, unless you've been living under your duvet without an internet connection for the last few years, not that much of a revelation to a digitally savvy audience.

Maybe I was expecting too much in the light of what I know of Big TED?  I think many will agree the use of the brand name “TED” does set the bar very high in anticipated quality and inspirational value.

Or perhaps it was a lost opportunity for us to benefit in a greater way from more remarkable, uplifting, outstanding people who have made things happen, overcome obstacles, and created meaningful stuff. I reckon there must be people like this around England's Northwest region who'd be willing to speak, don't you? If there aren't, we should be very worried.

To be fair to the TEDx Manchester organisers, they had a lot to live up to!  They’ve already said they appreciate our honest feedback and will take it on board when considering future events.

The good stuff at TEDxManchester

Hugh Garry, Shoot the Summer, TEDx Manchester.  Image credit: SDN-Photography

As well as getting to meet lots of lovely, friendly, open-minded, deep-thinking, world-changing, kind people, who want to reach their potential and make a positive difference, three speakers stood out.

Phil Griffin, an architectural commentator, spoke passionately, with loads of warmth and humour, about the urgent need to re-think our attitude to urban buildings, new and old. He connected with the audience and provided a refreshing perspective on sustainability and care for communities when considering design and development.

Paul Coulton from Lancaster University gave an ace talk on how mobile games can generate ideas that spread. He was incredibly funny, knew his stuff, and despite being on at the very end of the day, won the audience over immediately, and kept us engaged with a superb presentation. Some of Paul's stuff is here.

My favourite talk at TEDxManchester was from Hugh Garry, who's Twitter (@huey) bio describes him as someone who " does interesting digital things with Radio 1". Well Hugh does a lot more than that and his talk on the Shooting Summer project for the BBC was gripping.

In the Summer of 2008, Hugh visited seven festivals with a bag of mobile videophones, gave them out to the audiences and band members, and asked them to "film what you want". The results were edited into an hour long film that you can watch here or here.

The thing about Hugh is he seems to be a passionate person and possibility thinker. I enjoyed his talk since it was full of stories about his projects, and you can tell the guy loves people and ideas.

From what folk at TEDxManchester were saying, he appears to have encouraged lots of us to think more about the creative opportunities we can unlock by letting others have a chance to tell their stories. Lovely stuff!

I hope you get chance to sit with your feet up and enjoy watching "Shoot the Summer".


Thanks very much for reading this post. I hope you found it useful. I'd love to hear what you think. What do you get from TED Talks?  Did you enjoy TEDx?  What do you want from such events?  If you put on conferences etc., how do you decide what's important in selecting speakers and content?  You can post comments here, at that bottom.  Much love, Ian.



  • Ian AspinLocation: Lancaster Lake District, UK
  • Bio: I’m passionate about my work:TV journalist, producer, presenter, business ideas person. I care about: family, friends, helping people, finding meaning, running