First thoughts on TEDxTuttle

(photo by Benjamin Ellis on flickr)

Thursday afternoon saw me venture to TEDxTuttle, a cross between TED and Tuttle Club. I expect that a lot of you know about TED – if not, it is a series of conferences and presentations, many of which are freely made available on the TED website; there are many, many fascinating presentations – I have spent a lot of time watching TED videos! I have written about Tuttle several times before: it is a lose, unstructured, weekly gathering of like-minded people who talk about stuff.

People at Tuttle have often talked about bringing more structure to their discussions, and Alan Patrick had the idea of doing this by having some live, TED-like talks and showing some TED videos.

The TED strapline is “ideas worth spreading”, and judging by the debate the TEDxTuttle gathering generated at the time and the way I have been talking about it to people since, TEDxTuttle clearly succeeded. I am hoping to write about specific sessions from the afternoon, so these are my general thoughts of the day, filtered through a couple of days thoughts…

For me, it worked very well. For the video sessions, sitting in a room with a bunch of people watching a clip brought a discipline lacking when I sit watching a TED talk on my PC: I paid more attention without the distraction of constant coffee, radio, games, whatever… It brought human element to it, as well, as one picked up on the mood in the room.

That said, I think the live sessions brought more to the party, if only because I knew I could have watched the video sessions elsewhere. (OK, the live sessions were all being recorded and will be made available some time.) They were new, fresh and exciting.

The team who organised the afternoon did a great job of curating the sessions. The first block of talks was futuristic, featuring new thinking; the second block somewhat apocalyptic; and the last brought things back to a personal level, leaving us on a high. It would have been easy to dwell on one aspect or another, so structuring the day so leaving us feeling positive was a pretty good result.

There were a couple of things that I would change, though. I think I would alter the balance of live to video sessions in favour of the live, to make most use of all the people gathered together. I think more space for discussion would work, as well – perhaps using an open-space or “unconference” method: just giving a bit more space for people to discuss the ideas raised in a more formal way than chatting over coffee or beer. (That said, chatting over beer afterwards I was told that a group of people sat out the final session, discussing what they had heard earlier; if I’d done that, I’d have missed three of my favourite bits from the afternoon – so I’m glad I didn’t!)

All in all, I thought TEDxTuttle worked very well. There were lots of interesting ideas, lots of interesting people and lots of interesting conversations – I guess this was the Tuttle influence coming through. I am sure many of these conversations will carry on at Tuttle, on people’s blogs, and on the wealth of other media we now have available.

And I guess that’s what it was all about! Thanks to Alan and the team who made it happen.

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