BIF

AMP Social Media Cafe calendar

Here’s the Why 


Here’s the What

 AMP Social Media Cafes are informal learning events that I produce roughly once a month at AMP, as part of Catalysing Magic in a large enterprise. It was born out of theAMPLIFY09 Innovation & Thought Leadership Festival to maintain the momentum of conversations triggered by the Festival, create a safe space amongst peers and colleagues to learn about good practise and experiment with emerging social media platforms, cultivate interest in social media developments and how to apply it in a business context, and to foster a culture of greater internal dialogue and business connectivity. It usually attracts 60-80 people, though our “Twitter is NOT for dummies” session had more than a 100 attendees. 

Whilst it’s largely for AMP staff, and subject to speaker preferences or topics covered, we “share the love” with partners, customers or friends of AMP on an application basis if there is room available. Other sessions previously covered in AMP Social Media Cafes: 

 

Here’s the When and Who

Below is the programme for AMP Social Media Cafes ( #AMP_SMC) for the remainder of this year, but with an open invitation to Social Media Thought Leaders, Innovators and Entrepreneurs anywhere to feel free to approach me (@maverickwoman) if you have a social media concept or angle that you’d like to share with a business audience!  

 

26 August:Search, Sentiment & Semantics – featuring Joe Mclean of Leximancer and Andrew Reid of ViziSense

15 September: Freeways of the Future – will ubiquitous connectivity and pervasive internet access transform business?” with @PaulWallbank

27 January: Social platforms as Customer Support Centres with Simon Burke of IPScape and another large corporation (tbc)

The challenge…………should you choose to accept it, is to Nominate your favourite online talk of 2010! 

No idea where to look for best online talks? Apart from the usual suspects like YouTube and Vimeo, TEDTalks, try the TEDx series, try Fora.tvLIFT Conference, Aspen Ideas Festival, Picnic, H+, Poptech, Business Innovation Factory, and a list as long as my arm…feel free to add also your favourite conferences and “share your passion”. 

Which are your TOP online talks for the year 2010, and why…..(PLEASE INCLUDE LINKS where possible?)
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Losing my virginity: Review of my first TED live at Oxford, England, 2010

Good morning at 200km/h on board the 7:30 am Oxford to London train. I am
meeting ( on a Saturday morning no less!) the lovely @annemcx  for a quick
champagne at the refurbished St Pancras station that I hadn’t seen since
its opening. Then its onwards to Heathrow and Bangalore, India.

This is a rare hour of fasting after a bloated week of
intellectual gluttony at the table of TED. But the city of Oxford with it’s
breathtaking natural beauty, magnificent architecture and centuries old
culture in pursuit of knowledge equally contributed to the Epicurean
overload. There is only so much a girl can absorb, so I have had to pace
myself carefully – I still have 12 days to go and India and China lie
ahead!

To summarise, TED is FULL-ON!

I am nor sure they have perfected the formula yet, but given how profitable
TED is, it is clearly a highly successful recipe. Even so, they are open to
feedback, and here are some of my observations.

I had a stimulating experience, met interesting people outside of my usual
swimming stream ( everything is outside my usual swimming stream given
where I usually swim in the South Pacific) , expanded my perspectives and
insight into a few areas and picked up a few ideas to introduce for
Amplify.

Was I blown away? Afraid other than the live performance delivered up close
and personal by Annie Lennox, I didn’t get goosebumps or cried or laughed
till it hurt, but then again, I am quite hyper-connected and insatiably
curious already. As most innovators say, there’s nothing new under the
sun, just new combinations. On that score, a Dutch lady researching
products involving pigs was amusingly revelatory.

As far as conference logistics go, I found the sessions too long and my
attention wandered. Each session runs around 105 minutes or 1&3/4 hours and
includes 5 back-to-back slots with a LOT of slides( 1 is sometimes music).
There are 4 of those a day, sandwiched between good long conversation
breaks, too long lunches and just long enough nightly feasts groaning under
the bounty of plentiful so typical of wealthy societies.

So, in a day, you hear from around 20 different presenters, see about 200
slides and film clips, meet about 50 new people, and this carries on for 5
days in a row! If every speaker delivers 3 key messages, that’s 60 per day,
or 300 for the week….not counting the ideas sparked in the conversations
with the countless very bright people, or the 10 books you may buy to
supplement your reading. Can you see why I was not adding to this cerebral
load by trying to maintain a constant Twitter stream and blog beyond
session 1- my RAM was having a helluva time processing just what was coming
at it.

Sitting here now trying to recall the session highlights week, it’s become
a bit of a blur already, and in 3 weeks from now I know my recall will be
even less. But does that really matter as long as my subconscious mind has
absorbed and connected these messages into my neural pathways? Or perhaps
Nicholas Carr, author of The Shallows, is right- my online habits have
shrunk my attention span? Or maybe Jonah Lehrer is right- maybe my parallel
processing capacity has expanded thanks to our increasing digital
ambidexterity. (I am not sure what it was prior to the Internet era, I
didn’t baseline it!) I reckon having those two speakers side by side at a
TED line-up would make for a provocative experience!

The theme of TED Global 2010 was “and now for the good news”. Maybe that’s why
newspapers don’t report it- it has low impact on us! I liked the first
session the best out of the whole day conference because it’s underlying
message about the pervasive narrative in our heads that drive our behaviour
is one that I totally subscribe to. A highlight from the week was a
continuation of a theme I picked up at the Aspen Ideas Festival from the
@gregmortenson talks, and that is: We need a new narrative for many things. What could
the world look like if we changed the narrative around power,
inter-cultural collaboration in living on a finite planet with finite
resources, and tolerance for difference and styles of engagement with
Islamic nations.

The ideas presented by the 5 Middle-eastern speakers had the biggest impact
on me. (See program guide here)  They were:

  • Naif Al-Mutawa, Creator of The 99. (Watch this when it goes live! )
  • Elif Shafak, a novelist ( she told a beautiful story about the stories that separate and connect us)
  • Jamil Abu-Wardeh, a TV producer with a wicked sense of humour
  • Maz Jobrani, Iranian American stand-up comedian and social commentator
  • Zainab Salbi, a woman survivor of war, activist and social entrepreneur

I also found Sugata Mitra, an Education Researcher delightful to watch and listen to. A man totally in his element and exuding passion for life and fun.

Its a bit unfair picking just 6 out of the line-up, but what use would a review be if it praised all equally? The standard at TED is high and getting ever higher due to the open sharing of events like these online, a point that curator Chris Andersen made in a talk he gave titled: “Who’s the teacher?”

The Oxford Playhouse is a challenging venue. A dark theatre and the lack of
air conditioning in a venue filled with 750 bodies, stage lighting and a
ton of digital equipment combine effectively with lingering jet-lag to
transport you to the Land of Nod with alarming regularity. Mercifully, free
coffee flowed all day and I found the simulcast lounges adjacent to the
Playhouse a welcome alternative. But you have to wonder about traveling
that far at great expense to watch these sessions on a screen…so I had to
fight feelings of guilt when I used them instead.

The evening events were very well designed and executed flawlessly though I
thought they could have benefitted from a bit more variation- it was the
same formula and even exactly the same wines every night (no champagne???). A few games, some
music or entertainment would have been good? I was a bit cocktailed out by
the end and didn’t go the farewell BBQ and river boating and opted for an
afternoon blitz around the historic Cotswolds instead.

Now to the people. A good international blend, probably 2/3 rd from the UK
and North America, with a sprinkling of the well-heeled from Asia-Pacific,
Oceania, Central & South America, Africa and the Middle East. Largely Gen X
and Boomers, not any Gen Y or millennials except for staff. It looked like
the sexes were reasonably evenly represented though I’d put men at 60% and
women 40%. The most significant common factor would be social status and
income brackets – these are the influencers and decision-makers and it seemed 
largely private sector.

An observation though…polls by show of hand and audience reaction to
ideas revealed an alarming degree of uniformity in opinion. Is it
self-selection whereby only people of a certain demographic are drawn to
these events? Is it because only speakers of enlightened and liberal views
participate? Or dare I say there is a touch of group-think in “the TEDster
culture” as the organizers proudly refer to their followers. Where are the
outliers, I wonder, and how do you bring different voices to this hugely
influential platform where more than 500 million pairs of eyes have
participated in live webcasts or downloaded video content?

Another observation is the fact that from the podium we preach sustainability, growth without impact, over-consumption, etc…but then we add to it by gift bags full of stuff we really don’t need. My challenge to TED organisers ( and all those who emulate them) is…re-think goodie-bags! We all have more than enough shit in our houses alreadty! This is hypocracy in its worst form. And another suggestion: Could the next TED be completely plastic free and use only glass containers and aqua fountains and porcelain cups please?

Will I rush back and do it again? Yes, but not before I have explored other
conferences that are a bit less mainstream and more edgy, like The Singularity Summit. 

I actually think that I enjoy the Facebook Sydney TED Salon  experience more.
This is not a TEDX, but a random group of 15-25 people who formed 4 years ago,
meet at someone’s home once a quarter to watch TED videos selected by the rotating
host, which ensures diversity of taste, and projected onto a sheet ( or a big TV) and then discussed over BYO
wine and finger food. We watch about 4-6 TED talks a night, muse over them, debate pros and cons and check in on who
is doing what, and thus link our respective work and interests in Sydney. It’s great!

So, in conclusion, if I rank the conferences I have attended in the past 3 years in terms of my favourite inspiration for the AMPLIFY Festival that I produce in Sydney, they are:

  1. Picnic in Amsterdam, who ties with
  2. PopTech, Maine USA
  3. TED Global who ties with
  4. Business Innovation Factory, Providence Rhode Island

OK, any contrarian views, questions or comments?