Monday, January 18, 2010

TEDx Orenda

It’s a little late, but...just a little catch up on the TEDx event I attended this week in London, compered by leading technology writer Bill Thompson, and with a pre-recorded video introduction by Howard Rheingold, the man credited with coming up with the phrase “virtual communities”.

The speakers & video presentations had been lined up with three headings in mind; Fun, Funding & Functional


Pat Kane

Talking on the subject of “The Play Manifesto”, and taking his cue from the iPhone cupped in his palm, Pat was cerebral, passionate, engaging, erudite....but ironically enough, not particularly playful. That’s not to say Pat wasn’t dealing with the subject at hand. He was...and with some authority, but it seemed he was pitching a little high, perhaps influenced by the expectation that he was presenting to a room of tech savvy educationalists. My guess would be that the gathered group was perhaps a little more diverse than that, and would have been entirely comfortable with a degree of “fun” and silliness.

However, I’m going to go away and dig into Pat’s website on the subject. He’s clearly got a lot of important and viable things to say about play and technology, so I’m sure it’s worth investigating further.

I’m also going to dig out some of my old Hue and Cry albums. Mother Glasgow will forever remain one of my favourite ballads, and no one does it like the Kane brothers!

The full text of Pat’s talk can be found here.

Hadley Beeman

With a subject of “The Muppets and the Nature of Innovation”, Hadley Beeman explored the universality of those furry creatures, how learning and Human–computer interaction often handled in different ways across the generations and the subsequent tech developments as a result of those studies. The inclusion of the Muppets was at once a clever device for a section headed “fun”, also a tacet acknowledgement that Jim Henson’s Muppet Show alumni and their cousins over at Sesame Street (now 40 years old) have had a massive impact on Western society, particularly that of my generation. I’ve seen mentions already of Barack Obama being the first “Sesame Street President”

Lilly Evans

Next up – via Skype which worked like a dream – Lilly Evans (self described on Twitter as "Late night maven, practical IT geek, telling truth to power, rebel with cause, mother, mother-in-law and wife but teenager at heart") began her “How to let children take part” presentation with a challenge for each of us to find one word to describe ourselves and share with someone sitting close to us in the room. I have to confess, I become so embroiled in the train of thought that question provoked that I largely missed the content Lilly presented. I guess I’ll have to wait for the vids to appear somewhere online to catch up.

James Proud

18 year old (yet looking even younger) entrepreneur and founder of Giglocater was refreshing in his simple, stripped back & straight to the point single slide presentation of “Why school didn’t train me to be an entrepreneur”. James struck me as someone who’d be making his mark whether digital technology was available to him or not. This young gun is a confident and smart cookie, and one to watch in the future.


I’m not sure either Alfie Dennen or Dougald Hind’s slots had much to do with funding. They were both much more inspirational that the dullish “funding” title they found themselves in.

Alfie Dennen

First up, Alfie was able to offer up a raft of creative & sometimes quirky web initiatives he has “given wings” to over the last few years. I can imagine many of these projects were cooked up over late nights bouncing mad ideas around, reaching a conclusion of “wouldn’t it be good if we tried this” or “you, know it might just work”. I like Alfie’s way of thinking. He was more fun than funding!

Dougald Hine

Dougald’s subject of “Engaging the community in meaningful purpose” was the talk that seemed the most natural fit for my word view, and he didn’t disappoint. There was simply so much I could try to recall, that you’d be bombarded with more links and references than you could cope with, so in the interest of getting straight to the source suggest you head here - explore and engage. One thing Dougald did talk about that really resonated with me was his urging that we rethink what shops are for. A lot of shopping now takes place online, so we need to think about how shop spaces will be used in the future. Dougald’s assertion is that “markets” in are as old as human settlement, and are not going away anytime soon as physical places of congregation dialog and exchange. (Perhaps to the some allusions to Ray Oldenburg’s Third Place?)

I would love folks like Something Beautiful’s JD, Thomas and Stewart to have been able to hear Dougald if no-one else at TEDx Orenda . There were so many points of connection that would have been fizzing ‘round the room.

..also kinda reminded me in many ways of the mighty Shane Claiborne. Maybe someone can organize a hook-up?

Check Dougald online for more background.

Sara Haq

Next up was the previously unscheduled yet inspirational Sara Haq came to the stage to talk about her globe spanning journeys exploring creative learning, humanity, social media and shared connections. Good stuff!


London cabbie Lee Cox talked about the type of learning that is required to acquire “The Knowledge” – the almost mythic and encyclopedic grasp of London’s spidery and organic mess of a road system, as well as giving a useful plug for @tweetalondoncab

Caroline Bosher

Caroline – self styled – “Special Agent on a mission to transform businesses through exceptional branding & connections” seemed somehow a little out of step with the TEDx ethos. There was a small reaction in to the corporate and squarely commercial language in the #TEDx live Tweets.

I missed Maz Nadjim

I had to leave before the end of Caroline’s spiel just to be sure I wouldn’t get delayed as I headed back to deepest Surrey on this first day of being able to safely travel through the snow, so sadly I missed Maz Nadjim.

Another one to catch when the TEDx videos are posted. some feedback from you guys...

Big HT to Digital Maverick for pulling together this excellent evening.


Kevin said...

Thanks for this, Johnny. You have reminded me just what a good night this was. I did manage to stay for the last speaker who had some very interesting things to say about the Sky social spaces so do watch the video. Sadly, a lot of people had to go and I felt a bit sorry for him!

Looking forward to the next one!

Johnny said...

If we both make it, be sure to say hi.


Jonathan Blundell said...

Thanks for the review and the recommendation - hopefully we can work out some connections in the near future.

Johnny said...

Yeah, JD. I think it would make for some interesting conversations.