TEDxOrenda Liveblog

I’m liveblogging from the TEDxOrenda event at BETT, London Olympia.  [Edit: the event has now concluded and full post contains entire event summary]. For details of all the speakers at the event: go here.  I’ll be referring to them by name, but for their potted histories, see the main site.

18:44 Okay we’re getting started at TEDxOrenda – a bit late as some speakers were dribbling in because of all the security issues with getting in. Drew is introducing the event.

[Jo’s comment: I love teaching events.  The bar is always open before the event starts.]

18:50 Bill Thompson is now taking over as compere. We’re starting with Howard Rheingold giving us a personal message.  He notes that teachers have an opportunity to change the way teaching is done.  He says education tends to be a conservative industry, but the term ‘Orenda’ is about agency and autonomy in changing outcomes.  He looks forward to the session and the opportunities that will be articulated at this event.

18:52 Now on to the TEDx video from Kirin Bir Sethi on teaching children to take charge. This is available on line so recommend you follow the link I’ve embedded here.  For those who can’t see video, the story is about the city of Ahmedebad closing its main streets to play. “Contagious is a good word.”

19: 02 Pat Kane is now up saying that when he has fun he “gets intellectual on your arse”.

[Jo’s comment: Pat seems to be speaking from an iPhone cue. Love it!]

Pat says that play helps us to help us to work with others in a manner which is really the first virtual reality.

[Jo’s comment: Pat is jamming his presentation with theory, but he has kindly made the text available on his site.  You can read it here.]

Pat notes that play as tightly associated with childhood development is not necessarily the most productive and preparatory form of play.  He says that policy is mixed: there’s a support of play on primary eduaction but not all the Cambridge research recommendations were accepted so there is still the sense of play as being separated from seriousness of the classroom.

Rough stuff can happen in the playground and we have to find ways to manage the darker aspects of the human condition, but clearly cyberspace and the net provides us with an opportunity to draw on our natural playful and neotenic tendencies.

Caution: don’t presume computer games are the only conduit between the play, and education outcomes and pedagogy.  There are infinite games and all forms of games in real environments.

Request: need a multidisciplinary and corss-practice conference on play.  Many vested interests and powerful institutions are embracing play but they are narrowing the focus and this may poorly inform policy development.

Pat concludes that we should all disregard the rules and do what we want.

19:16 Hadley Beeman now up talking about the muppets and play.  She begins with a her background, in HCI and the public sector.  Jim Henson wasn’t intrigued by puppets but wanted to get in to television.  What he dioscovered was that puppets were universally acceptable, and he could use puppets with adult audiences.

University of Maryland’s Human Computer Interaction unit did a study on children and search and found that the majority of children used Google.  Results showed that children were focused on keyboard so made spelling errors and this crippled results, including auto-suggestion features. They didn’t have patience with results and gave up easily.

Search can be improved by producing multiple entry points (speech recognition, etc).  But researchers also felt that content needed to be tailored to the user’s skills and age group.

Hadley also uses the case study of the Wii remote as an example of technology which positions the user.  The positioning technology means its possible to generate a whiteboard which can then allow much more ‘written’ or physicial interaction process of engaging with online content.  This is more appropriate for the age group of the users.  The tools that got stuck in our heads as kids are the same to improve information discovery now.

19:30 Lilly Evans is now ‘up’ (via Skype).  She begins by asking us to turn to the person beside us and find a single word to describe them.

[Mazi says: “Nice!” Jo says “Blunt.”]

Lilly notes that there is a clear separation between passive observation (taking notes) and active participation.  Curiosity makes people go deeper in their research.  A picture of Marie Curie and Albert Eistein is up on the wall.  Einstein once said he became interested in science because of Marie Curie.

We can only properly satisfy curiosity through collaboration.  The way we learn is by repetition and practice as well as through engagement with tools and within environments.  Creativity and art is necessary to inspire even in industries disconnected from art.  She concludes with a Goethe quote.

19:40 James Proud is now up talking about Giglocator.com. He saw a problem working with music companies that online information was diaggregated so people will miss live music.  His company is designed to overcome these problems.  He started doing freelance work at the age of 12 creating sites for artists.

He notes that America has the American dream, Britain teaches people to work.  This distinction means that entrepreneurs in Britain tend to be ‘seasoned’ (they were around when eBay started).  This attitude prevents creative production.

James concludes that technology isn’t easy but it isn’t ‘cheating’.  We have an opportunity to use technology to enhance creative production.

19:45 We’re now having a 15 minute break.  Red wine is ON.

20:03 Aaaaannnnd we’re back.  Bill Thompson notes we’ve finished with the Fun bit and are on to the Funding. But we hope that’s not actually true.

Alfie Dennan is up talking about how to give your ideas wings. He is going to talk about the ideas and things he has done.  “You get things done by organising things well.”

Alfie says an organiser is someone who wants to give users power to create.  It doesn’t matter if you don’t have the skills – you can draw intersting, skilled people around you to help create.

Alfie gives the example of stoppedclocks.com as an example of not requiring much skills but can get off and do by allowing users to be creative and fun in taking photos of stopped clocks and sharing these. He then provides the example of XDRTB.com where a treasure hunt game was used to deliver a shared experience which raises awareness of public interest issues.  He notes not much coding was needed but the response was profound.

Britglyph is the third example Alfie speaks about, teaching kids about art and geography and allows kids to take a photo of themselves with a physical artifact and place it in a geographical locations.  And the final example given is the Bus-Tops art installation of digital displays mounted on the roofs of London Bus shelters where art can be created by anyone for submission to the Bus-Tops initiative.  People can get art to tell stories along a route, and the experinece can be shared by all commuters as well as participate in the production of creative works.

Alfie concludes with a challenge to play a borough based Pong Championship! You don’t need to be 133t, you just need to be able to have an idea and organise it.

20:20 Dougald Hine is now up talking about that the stuff that money can’t buy and money can’t do.  He begins by talking about his background living in a ‘squat’ which was a fabulous art space, film night, workshops and parties which were an amazing space for creativity.  At management meetings (which were not called management meetings) they’d discuss the ethics of whether a hypothetical band playing in their space should do so because they might make a profit – in which case they’d have succumbed to capitalism.  There were also long arguments about the people that owned the space.  As a result Dougald became depressed by the accidental bureaucracy of squat societies and distrustful of us-and-them scenarios.  As a result he set up School of Everything kind of accidentally as a means of trying to overcome the barriers to entry of people who want to work together.

Dougald then goes on to his original blog post on ‘how I stopped worrying and learned to love the Market’.  The marketplace is a sociable space and the characteristic of a good marketplace is that you are welcome there.  The Marketplace is not a perfect space, channelling money to the top, because it is anarchic and chaotic, and enables informal connections to be made over and above the products of the firm.

Dougald’s latest project is the Spacemakers Network.  Using Ning, he created the project which is designed to fill spaces about pop-up projects and empty shops for creative exhibitions and projects.  Also got contacted by council bodies which wanted to make spaces available for markets and projects. He goes on to talk about the Brixton Village Market (Granville Arcade) redevelopment project. The Lambeth space they accessed allowed them to develop a competition for exhibition of temporary and longterm creative works or shops for small player-goods, to fill these spaces to increase traffic in the spaces.  Pop up events and restaurants are always open for new players.

We need to rethink what shops are for.  So much of shopping has gone online that we now need to think about experiences and new ways of using these spaces to make them work. But the thing about market is that the are as old as human settlement.  Markets are not going away.  We need to meet and greet and exchange conversation as much as ideas.

20:40 Another short break as the bar is about to close.

20:53 Sara Haq is up to talk about her next project.  She begins with a history of the Overland project she’d previously done, researching creativity & social change, exploring learning through recording the journey.  The project involved 18 days by public transport from London to Thailand from -40 degrees to 40 degrees Celsius, as well as an exploration of intercultural communication – not just by nationality but by family, community and environment.

Her next research expedition is from Donegal in Ireland to Bangladesh by road and sea.  The journey is designed to be a convoy of 5 vehicles, and a core team of 12  – a travelling circus with a purpose.  It’s a collaborative project – that asks people/ communities along the way what their needs are, both in terms of resources and skills. It offers the means & facilities to address and potentially find solutions to these needs & communicate them- to governments/ public bodies that need to know. She’s planning on using fablab as a means of opening conversations, connecting with people and providing creative space to make what people need.  The objective is designed to be a knowledge, technology, skills, and creativity sharing project – a travelling group of professionals using social media and traditional media to make & share connections.  She’s now looking for £300,000 of funding/ in kind sponsorship in the form of partnerships and has begun to forge ties with public & private entities to get the project off the ground.   Wants to bring kids into aspects of the journey to share the learning experience.

21:06 Lee Cox is now up speaking about what it is to have the knowledge as a cab driver. Huge amount of information that needs to be absorbed to become a successful cabby.  There are a series of standard routes that all cabbies start with in order to be able to get from point A to point B in the straightest possible manner, subject to traffic conditions and roadworks.  It takes about a year to get the skills to be able to go through a series of ‘appearances’ with the testing authorities.  You do a map test, and then you have to learn sections in stages – initially every two months followed by a monthly and a 3-weekly process of testing before you can actually be entitled to run a cab.

Lee says that understanding comes in 3 stages – big rocks, pepples and sand.  Initially you know the big rocks – the main pointers – then you have the understanding of locations based on points of interest.  But long after you start working as a cabbie you develop absolute fluency and understanding. Experience is not just about ‘having the knowledge’ but it’s an ongoing process.  He now uses technology as a means of expanding knowledge even further, and is on twitter with many other cabbies.

21:15 Caroline Bosher is up speaking about grabbing hold of corporate identity. Caroline wants to focus specifically on brand protection.  Her own experience of taking charge of her own destiny became a a process of discovery.  Her own accidental history of jobs and getting her head around various roles led her to understand that connecting people was essential to ensuring productive and creative output.

However, there are a lot of great ideas that are poorly targeted to audiences.  So it becomes the role of a brand agent to manage connecting ideas with audiences.  But this also involves protecting ideas and protecting interests.  Social media also challenges this because it brand can be affected much faster than ever before.

Caroline tells us the story of her Mum and her experience in the classroom.  What her mother needed to do was to change culture of the environments in which she worked.  No-one had taken the time to make connections.

Caroline concludes that branding needs to focus on connections and brand protection needs to focus on entire connection to networks.  And brand protection formula is about building tribes of fans: it’s a combination of (Authenticity + Integrity + Transparency), Passion and Playfulness.

21:35 Mazi Nadjm is the final speaker of the event, speaking about engaging the community and harnessing their voice.  He talks about the history of Sky’s association with social media, and what he learned from the competitive landscape of social media.  Often the rules of moderation and brand experience at Sky affected their capacity to mobilise communities and engage them effectively.  Eventually he recommended a single sign-on to encourage participation in mulitple forums, and moderation of any blog content, ratings, reviews, etc, so that people could feel safe.  Sky decided against rich media sharing to reduce costs of moderation as well as to ensure protection of the brand.

Mazi moves on to speak about Sky News and citizen journalism.  Even the shape of the page was designed to ensure that the community is given the same profile as the professional journalists.  He notes that community is interested in location specific information – from traffic to local stories.

Finally he gives the example of Sky Player’s forum which is providing feedback on service.  He notes that the objectives for engagement were met but also there was a great deal of creative learnings that arose from the experiment to open up the sector to feedback.

Mazi concludes that twitter has been a driving force of change at Sky.  He next goal of 140countries is designed to raise awareness about AIDS in 140 countries.  He hopes people will become involved.

21:48 Bill thanks us all for participating, and thanks Drew Buddie for putting this together! Night all!

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