Okay, so I’m a bit cheeky. I went to two TEDx Norths. I went to the one in Sheffield, where I live. Then when I saw they had some interesting speakers, I got some tickets for TEDx Manchester as well. The two were both interesting events and have been summed up better elsewhere on other blogs, so here I will make just a couple of brief points.
I preferred the Sheffield TEDx. Why? Because although the speakers sounded like they’d be less interesting on paper, they were actually more interesting. Manchester gave us talks from people with big credentials. People from all across the BBC: Radio, Childrens, the head of research & development at BBC Future Media & Technology. There were people from the Guardian and from Nokia. These guys all gave interesting talks, but they were so wide in scope. In Sheffield the deal from the speakers was thus: “I’ve made something / am involved in something. Maybe not a lot of people find it that interesting, but I’m really into it and I want to share my passion with you”. In Manchester it was more, “Facebook! Twitter! Web 2.0! Social media! Cliche!” and I got a little lost in all the buzz words. Twitter and Facebook were mentioned so frequently, I think we could have engineered a drinking game out of it. I didn’t learn anything new about either of them, unfortunately. It didn’t help that each speaker had 20mins each, which blatantly wasn’t enough for most of them. Like in Sheffield, we were played old TED talks on video. If I wanted to watch them, I would do in my own time (as I often do) on Miro, or their YouTube channel. This should have been scrapped to give the speakers more time! (Disclaimer; I think Lost is the most self-congratulatory peace of crap JJ Abrahams, nay, anyone has ever done, so his talk was especially lost on me)
For me, the one guy who stood out was Phil Griffin. He talked about Manchester and its architecture. He told us about the tower blocks that are being torn down and the old pubs he knows that are lying dormant. This is obviously something that he cared about deeply (he even showed us pictures of the area where he once got married). This, more focused talk, was simply superb. I have an interest in architecture sure, but I’m a web developer with a much keener interest in the web. But the one man who didn’t mention the web (let alone any web2.0 cliche’s) once during his talk was easily the most fascinating speaker. He also used the large screen to display photography, rather than a dry list of bullet points (“*facebook *twitter *web2.0”).
Maybe in the future TEDx North could, and I don’t believe I’m saying this, be a little less web-orientated next time? Some pictures are available on my flickr stream.