Monday, May 30, 2011


When I discovered that there was going to be a TEDx event in Bordeaux, I thought hell, yeah, I'd like to be there so I duly signed up and bought my 40€ ticket.

However, I hadn't really thought about why I was interested in the event. Like everyone else I've watched a lot of TED presentations on the internet. I find the format snappy and the content (almost) unfailingly interesting. But I hadn't thought about what the added value of actually being there would be as opposed to viewing later on a screen.

I spent a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon in the lecture theatre at Bordeaux's Museum of Modern Art, the CAPC, but to be honest it turns out that there isn't actually a lot of added value in being there. The organisers probably realise this and attempt to compensate by promoting the hour-long break as an opportunity to "network" with speakers and other participants. I'm useless at networking and I didn't make any new friends during the break but I did take the photo above of people mingling on the roof terrace of the CAPC at one end of that very long work of art.

The speakers aren't announced before the event so it's something of a pig in a poke, you just have to trust the local organisers to come up with a varied selection of good communicators with something interesting to say in no more than 18 minutes. In Bordeaux there were several excellent talks - slick presentations, well delivered with a clear and meaningful message, there was one truly dreadful presentation and the rest were middling. We heard about copyright and creation, the internet in Africa, a new type of physiotherapy centred on the pelvis, Montessori and the child's need for independence, Dead drops, Opensource software, new tools for NGOs, as well as musings on the future of the internet.

There were also two musical sets. One by a group called Sun Seven and another by a double bassist. I heard a little embarrassed sniggering during the latter - perhaps unsurprisingly free impro contemporary double bass doesn't seem to be everyone's cup of tea. Fadhila Brahimi later got us all to stand up and sing together. More used to being on the giving-orders side of happy-clappiness, I tend to get a little panicky when press-ganged into any group activities and was more than relieved when it was time to sit back down again once the rather facile lesson that companies should make people work together more had been made explicit.

Other lessons that I gleaned from the afternoon:
  • Simply saying the work "geek" to a French audience guarantees laughter whatever the context. Fair enough.
  • Over-rehearsal often comes across as ham acting but under-rehearsal is cringily worse.
  • No amount of coaching can compete with innate showmanship.
  • The bare legs look is not a good look under spotlights, I must remember that.
The theme was "Ensemble" , and most speakers paid lip service to that idea in some way. After the intermission, a young man asked me if I would mind moving back a row so that he and his friends could have six seats all together — "puisque le thème, c'est ensemble" he added without the slightest hint of irony.

(I'll add a link to the presentations as soon as they become available.)


Patrick3394 said...

in the meantime, you may use this editing of the clips I recorded =

Lesley said...

Merci Patrick!

Berowne said...

I've been trying to figure out how to say "geek" in French. :-)

Wendy Wise said...

Very interesting, would you do it again?