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TED Inspiration & Shoot the Summer

image credit: nguyendai 

New thinking. New possibilities. New opportunities.

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?  See you in the comments.  Much love, Ian.

Your comments:

Beat Schindler says:
19/10/2009 03:34:27

Totally enjoyed the Benjamin Zander vid ... I-opening :-) Thanks for the heads-up! Have previously posted TED talks in small numbers on my blog, too (including Dan Ariely/behavior and Dan Pink/motivation, ref. http://www.beatschindler.com/success-strategies/ted-ariely-pink). So BZ is going to be one of them in five minutes time. Re comparing YouTube-TED to a local TEDx event, off hand, it feels like comparing a local band doing a Mark Knopfler number, to a Dire Straits concert. Unless you enjoy - or reject - both for what they are, as opposed to what they could be, don't you mostly risk to short-change everybody (including your Self :-)?
Drew Hemment says:
16/10/2009 18:00:35

Hi Ian, apologies for late reply, I have been traveling, thanks to Herb for thoughtful response. OK, so here's the scoop, someone needs to get on to @TEDchris here, as if what is (probably) the most successful TEDx to date is seen in a negative light, then the model needs a refresh. Some reflection here http://bit.ly/2gvjlM
Herb Kim says:
13/10/2009 23:20:41

Dear ken.j9@sympatico.ca, Actually there has already been a TEDxToronto.. http://www.tedxto.com/ There are a load more TEDx events happening across Canada and you can see the listing at http://www.ted.com/tedx Hope you make it to one of them before long. And thanks for your comments too! Herb p.s. You should consider coming over for our homage to TED - Thinking Digital - which happens every May in northern England. http://www.thinkingdigital.co.uk :-)
Janine says:
13/10/2009 23:05:09

Hi Ian, I do enjoy TED.com videos as well (who doesn't, once they've heard of them?!), but I have never attended a TED or TEDx conference. I thought your comments were sincere and well-meaning, the honest critique of an expectant attendee; however, I really appreciated the perspective and points that Herb mentioned in his response, very informative. Thanks to both of you for what you shared! (I sure wish a "Herb" near me would plan a TEDxToronto!!)
Herb Kim says:
12/10/2009 20:54:03

Hi Ian, First off, thanks for making the time to come to the event and now writing it up. As one of the event organisers I'm naturally going seek to defend the event so apologies in advance if my comments come across this way. I do genuinely appreciate the feedback and time you've taken to communicate it. First point is that I think comparing TEDxManchester to the TED.com archive is a little unfair. TED.com is a collection of the very best talks given at TED over 20+ years. Many TED talks never make the cut to the website. Even a main TED Conference produces talks that are simply not good and never make it to TED.com. Feel like seeing Stephen Fry's recent talk at TEDGlobal in Oxford? It's not on TED.com and I wouldn't be surprised if it never made it to the main site because it was generally regarded as amongst the worst at TED in July much to the collected surprise of pretty much everyone. Edward de Bono's TED 2007 talk? It ain't on there either. That talk was so bad Chris Anderson actually got on stage to interrupt de Bono mid-presentation which he rightly criticised as a blatant advert for de Bono's consulting practice. Ever wonder why nobody mentions Bill Clinton's TED Talk or Amy Tan? They're actually both on TED.com but really pretty weak in my opinion. So even if folks like Fry, de Bono, Clinton & Amy Tan can have an off day at TED then I think you need to consider cutting Little TED a little slack perhaps? I do concede that the TED name generates high expectations. Adding the BBC brand to the mix does nothing to detune expectations. The reality is that our versions of TEDx were meant to be closer to BarCamp than a full TED Conference. For one thing BarCamp costs £0.00 and TED costs $6000 per person. I've been lucky enough to qualify for the not for profit discount in the past but even with that big discount it's still expensive. Perhaps a brand like TEDcamp or UnTED Conference would have done a better job of this than TEDx? Without any doubt we can make the next TEDx Manchester even better but as a v 1.0 I thought it really worked. I think the efforts primarily of the BBC and Future Everything really need to be applauded and supported. A significant amount of time, effort and even some money went into producing the event and making it freely available to all comers. Since these events don't charge they depend on the support of people in the community. Of course that's not to say don't criticise but I think the organisers would have appreciated a post that was a bit more - good first effort; hope you do it again soon; here's what I'd improve. Them's some of my thoughts. Hope to meet you in person before long. Herb
AnnHawkins says:
04/10/2009 15:54:34

Hi Ian, I'm a real TED fan but hadn't seen the Ben Zander talk. Its like you've just given me a wonderful present wrapped up in a big box and tied with a shiny ribbon. I love it. Thank you so much for bringing it to my attention - what a wonderful man and what a fanstastic teacher and leader. I defy anyone not to be moved when they listen to this talk - I've got shiny eyes!


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  • 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