TedxSalford biggest in the UK, don’t you know?

TEDxSalford

A few Sundays ago (10th November 2013), I had the somewhat pleasure of going to TedxSalford.

I say somewhat because although I enjoyed most of the talks, I felt strange about it. Specially after doing the first TedXManchester at the old BBC in Oxford Road. And then speaking at the second one in the cornerhouse.

The whole event is slick and a well polished affair. And thats my problem with it.

TedxSalford as someone said on stage, is bigger than most Ted Conferences! According to wikipedia the Lowry theatre holds 1730.  There were a lot of people maybe at a push 1400  as the lowry theatre wasn’t quite full but the ground floor and circle were packed solid. I got a seat in the private boxes which was lovely. Cheers iMartyn, Simon and Shane.

How did it get so big? I assume its the support from the University of Salford which helps make it possible. Thats not to take anything away from the staff and people involved in the whole operation. But I’m use to Tedx’s showcasing new and local talent rather than collectively getting people flown in from across the world. And with a line up including astronauts again its easy to see why its so popular.

TEDxSalford

Ok hands up I’m bias because having run the first TedxManchester1 with Herb Kim in the BBC Oxford Road, I do feel like we tried to do a number of things including highlight local talent and local concerns. TedxManchester2 was the same, but of course I would say that having the chance to tell my story on stage. I can’t imagine TedxSalford would let me anywhere near the stage. Yes they had a Manchester Utd player but to be fair he was pretty good for being nervous. You can’t help but feel they over stepped the local by having an international foodball player.

Please don’t get me wrong, its nice both TedxManchester and TedxSalford have each found there niche and they don’t overlap. I just think I prefer TedxManchester personally. There is something about genuine and authenticity which seems to be missing. I felt like we went from here’s a massive speaker to here’s another big speaker to yes you guessed it another massive speaker. Thinking Digital has big speakers but Herb balances them with themes to make proceedings a lot less choppy. I’d also look at what Imran does with TedxLeeds and TedxBradford. Well thought out lineup, with a narrative running from one to the other.

Saying all that… The whole event was very well produced except the sheer amount of people made getting lunch and the break out sessions a total nightmare. There were some fantastic speakers…the one which got me was once again Graham Hughes who talked about being the only man to travel to travel into every county by land only.

Other noticeable talks came from Lucy Siegle who talked about the fashion and the incredible waste it generates (one for my sister). Google Glass technical lead Thad Sturner for a great break out session i was able to squeeze into. Poet Lemn Sissay for some great slam poetry on stage. George Smooh for making my brain overload a little. Hetain Patel for his amazing art work and art direction.

Something I mentioned a lot in previous blog posts. Recorded from TedxSanjoseca, Steve Mazan’s look at life and death. Not to be missed…

So as a whole TedxSalford is well worth going to if you want the TED experience (I assume it might be like that, although I’ve never actually been). Just don’t expect anything local like the other regional tedx’s. That can be a good and bad thing depending on what you want or expect. This is a case of bigger isn’t always better…

Author: Ianforrester

Senior firestarter at BBC R&D, emergent technology expert and serial social geek event organiser.