January 28th 2012
In the past couple of years a remarkable thing has been happening…
It’s called TED and its is a series of ad hoc speaker led events where people turn up and talk about anything…
Anything that is thought provoking that is.
The speakers are given a small slot of time; like 18 minutes and that’s it.
It’s about the power of ideas, the power of speech and it slaps your brain around with a barrage of idealism and concepts that can be about anything.
TEDx is when independents can organise their own event under the cloak of TED. At The Lowry in Salford the well run event brought together disparate thinkers from so many different disciplines that your mind is in a beautiful overload of ideas and concepts – from exploration to space travel, from the smallest particles known to man to the secret life of plants.
The coolest part of the event in Salford is that you then spend the day hanging out with these people; so one minute your talking to the team who have been studying neutrinos at the CERN project in Switzerland – the smallest particle discovered that travels faster than the speed of light, and then the next your hanging with an astronaut before talking about the future with one of the world’s leading futurologists, before chatting about found sound with a prominent scientist…
The event is about bringing people together from different disciplines and about inspiring people. My own blurb for the vent gives you some idea of what it was all about…
‘TED is a non-profit initiative devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. It began in 1984 as an annual conference where some of the world’s leading thinkers and doers are invited to share what they are most passionate about. It broadly stood for the subject areas Technology, Entertainment and Design — hence TED — but TED’s reach and its scope have become ever broader since then. TEDTalks cover science, arts, politics, global issues, architecture, music and much more.
In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organised events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. These local, self-organised events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organised TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organised.’
I was asked to take part in one in Salford and it was one of the most inspiring days I’ve ever had.
The speakers were an incredible range of people… the best way to give you an idea of what was going on is to put them in a list.
Irene Khan– former head of Amnesty International who delivered an impassioned speech about women’s rights.
Edward Stafford Amazon explorer, who made a TV series about walking from the source of the Amazon to the sea which he explained in a funny and sometimes harrowing talk.
Tom Hingley ex Inspiral Carpets frontman who talked about illegal downloading of music and the other dangers of the internet stealing your rights.
Anne Lise Kjaer who gave a powerfully inspirational talk about future trends and how human interactions are changing.
Dario Autiero – top scientist who talked about his work with neutrinos and his controversial discoveries about these tiny particles travelling faster than the speed of light-lots of great stuff about the universe and the beginning of time. He told me about the big bang and that they have got to within one second of it but the heat generated by it is beyond anything that the laws of physics can understand.
Trevor Cox Talked about found sound and soundscapes, referencing the Beetham Tower in Manchester and the strange harmonic drone the wind makes as it blows around the building – he was saying we should listen to the world more.
Benedict Allen Explorer who talked about travelling through the jungle with no GPS and why he pushed himself to these extremes.
Unut Kise Key scientist from the CERN experiment in Switzerland who has been working on neutrinos and afterwards was patient enough to explain to your reviewer’s layman questions about the universe ’99 per cent of the matter in the universe we know nothing about’ he told me – I couldn’t get that one out of my head all day.
Julie Summers – Gave an emotionally inspiring talk about a British general whose leadership kept his men alive in the second world war when they were captured by the Japanese and made to work on the death railway in Thailand.
Heather Witney – Talked about the language of plants – the way that like animals they attract mates and prey – it was so bizarre and mind blowing; the idea that one plant mimicked dead meat to attract flies that it left you thinking, how the fuck did they work that out! and made you believe in god for a minute.
Ronald Garan – Talked about his six month stint on the space shuttle and the beauty of the earth and the profound affect it had on his thinking, leading him to set up an organisation to bring better co-operation between people.
Vito Di Bari – Gave a speech on his futurologist innovative theories, the way things are changing and how everything changes once there is a shift in science – like electricity changing everything and now micro technology
Dawn Gibbins Talked about her innovative Flowcrete company that took the cancer out of flooring and her innovative ideas for creating new business enviroments.
Stephen Venables – Talked about the zen of climbing and how he got to the top of Everest with no oxygen supply.
And I got to talk about punk rock and DIY creativity!
Music was from the classical Musical Revolution who want to do geurilla gigs with classical music and remove its stuffy connotations which they did every effectively.
The day was like no other. Brilliant innovative minds with stunning ideas, every conversation was inspirational…t hey are planning another one next year in Salford – you have to be there.