TEDxManchester

Its been a while in coming but finally TEDxManchester happened last Friday (2nd October) at my new current work place BBC Manchester. When I first planned the event it was going to a lot smaller but slowly it grew and got more complex. But the end result was certainly special and brought a nice end to the TEDxNorth collaboration. And I'd certainly like to give a tip to the hat to the other TEDx's including TEDxLiverpool and TEDxLeeds which I both attended.

On the run up to TEDxManchester we hit a few snags here and there but one of the most tricky things was getting the totally tapeless multiple camera setup going smoothly. Luckily the engineers from R&D's Ingex project came up with almost everything to get it all going. From my understanding we shot across 3 Sony EX3 cameras on to 2 separate PC machines running Ingex software in HDV 1080p at a bitrate of 100 megabits per second. There was a 4th camera shooting to SD cards too. So all this means we should have all the video of the presentations and more up within 2-3 weeks maximum. Nothing worst that having to digitise all those video off a multiple tapes.

The day started for me at 4am with me doing tweaks to the main presentation and changing a couple other things on our basecamp site. I didn't get much sleep but to be honest I've not had much sleep most of the week. By 7am me, andy and angas were moving stuff around making the space for everything to be setup. Before long it was 9am and most things were well on there way. The wireless was worrying me but after a quick switch around of routers it all came together. Everything else was moving along smoothly and before long cameras, lighting and AV was coming together. After tons of running around we started letting people in and I believe started about 5mins late.

Now its hard to go through all the talks because being backstage there's so much more going on. After Herb and Drew introduced the afternoon and Chris Anderson from TED said hi via video we were into the first video which we had choosen as the JJ Abrams magic box talk. There was a problem with the sound which almost deafen most people. Later Rowan and Tony found out the problem was the cable we were using was unbalanced and so any sound which wasn't centralsed would come out very loud. Due to this worry, the sound was kept slightly lower that it would normally. After the first three speakers it was solved.

So the first live talk was Matthew Postgate head of BBC R&D. After his talk, he left quite a nice lot of time for questions from the audience. And the questions came with a political streak. Matthew did a good job covering the questions which would have been very difficult to answer but some people did feel the answers were as expected quite stiff. The talk was on broadcasting and although good, talking to people afterwards they said he needed to just ground some of his thinking so people outside the BBC know where he's coming from.

Matthew Postgate

Next speaker was Phil Griffin who gave a great talk about architecture in and around Manchester and Salford. For a lot of people they don't realise how influential Manchester has been in the field of architecture so Phil really went to town with many shots of the city and a off the cuff talk about them. It really went down well, I'm so glad Phil was able to give the talk.

Phil Griffin

Sarah Hartly talked about journalism and the need for more participation within the field. I think she was going for something post-citizen-journalist.

Sarah Hartley

After a break and a change of audio cable, we kicked off again with a video from Alain de Boton on redefining success at TED Oxford. It actually got a clap at the end which is strange for watching a video. Following that difficult act was Dr Mariann Hardey a Social Scientist who talked about the behaviour of people using social networks and creating social media. Another good talk but not everyone was convinced. Reading Twitter, there was lots of comments sniffing at the notion of a social scientist which I thought was a real shame.

Dr Mariann Hardey

Marc Goodchild followed with lots of interesting facts and figures about children growing up in this economy and society of ours. Marc for ages had been asking me what he should talk about but I left him in the dark deliberately because I know he'd work it out and come up with something worth listening to. Thankfully I think it worked out right. A interesting talk full of perspective and knowledge.

Marc Goodchild

Ben Light gave a very surprising talk about Niche Social networks and how they influence our perspective on ourselves. He was a little worried about the amount of younger people in the audience but dived in to his talk which centred around a popular gay site called Gaydar.com. I along with others found it very interesting. I had given a similar but no where near as deep talk about OkCupid.com (which is dating site for all) at a BarCamp last year. Someone tweeted that its good thing Marc and Ben didn't get there talks mixed up. Can't wait to see the video of this one.

Ben Light

After the final break which we reduced to catch up some time, we changed up the last video for something shorter and sweeter. So instead Herb talked about a video they had shown at TEDxNewcastle only 2 days earlier. So with some persuasion I decided to use that over the Susan Blackmore video. I love Susan Blackmore but I did agree that her 20min video might be a slow burn at this point in the afternoon plus we were already falling behind on time.

Rosie Allimonos was due to talk but called in ill a few days earlier so the magical Hugh Garry stepped in and gave I think one of the most popular talks of the day. A real power to the people talk about what happened when he gave mobile phones with good cameras to different people then asked for them back and eddied the into one. The results were highly watchable and engaging on a level which makes me smile. Well done Hugh, another video I'm hoping to watch soon.

Hugh Garry

The last speaker was Paul Coulton from Lancaster University. I had first met Paul at Over the Air last year. Paul's talk started around games and the mobile and ended somewhere over solving some of the worlds biggest problems. Impressive talk and it seems another audience favourite.

Paul Coulton

After the event, everyone headed to the Hotel Bar in the Palace for a free drink and lots of networking.

So what do others think of the event? Well I'll save that for a follow on post.

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Author: Ianforrester

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