Monday, May 16, 2011

TEDxBelfast - the remaining talks

TEDx Belfast logo

Last month I posted links to some of the YouTube versions of the TEDxBelfast talks from the first ever independently organised TED event to be held in Belfast. You can read my review of the night's talks and sessions in another post, but this this post closes the loop and deals with the remaining talks.

Maureen Piggott

Maureen Piggot, director of Mencap in Northern Ireland, was a revelation amongst the evening's speakers. She provided a window into a world of which I’m mostly ignorant.

f(impairment, environment) = disability

In our text-based society, she pointed out that there is no symbol to designate learning disability. Maureen suggested that

“the computer is the new wheelchair … the power of computing technology offers new solutions for people with intellectual disabilities that could be as useful and as liberating as the wheelchair is for people who have mobility difficulties.”

I spoke to Maureen afterwards ...

Sinclair Stockman

Sinclair Stockman was the first presenter of the evening, taking the subject of A Fully Interactive World. He took a look at a number of very ancient technological advances in early postal and communication systems. Sinclair was taken with the vastly distributed (though low volume!) postal system set up in the time of Genghis Khan. He pointed to infrastructure sometimes getting in the way of efficiency. Sinclair said it was criminal that while Northern Ireland probably has the best broadband network of any territory its size in the world, yet we have 20,000 illiterate children.

I caught up with Sinclair during the interval ...

Ken Thompson

Biomimicrist Ken Thompson spoke about Seven Secrets of High Performing Teams. To be honest, at times it came across like a précis of his book. But in amongst the management speak and the jargon, there were some nuggets of advice for people organising and operating teams. How often does the simple lack of clear ground rules cause disruption and conflict in projects?

His sixth “secret” was “Fast co-invention”. There’s room for command and control “leader decides” management, and there are occasions when wisdom of the crowds copes well when no specialist knowledge is required. But sometimes it’s a matter of figuring out who is most expert on a subject in a team and give them the responsibility to decide of those matters.

I talked to Ken too ...

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