The Best of 2012 TEDxWarsaw (1)

I missed most of the Polish talks on TEDx Warsaw on Thursday as I had to leg it for other duties. My “best of” picks are from the talks in English. First, a caution about accuracy: I wasn’t taking notes and the videos are not yet up for verbatim scrutiny. So, I’ll be digging into my memory box for impressions and I’ll paraphrase the speakers with as much fidelity as possible.

Best for Feel Good
At a time when EU is all bruised up by the P.I.G epidemic and gloomy prognosis of the Euro’s used-by-date, Rafał Trzaskowski’s defence of the EU’s relevance is a much needed and welcome confidence booster. All eyes are on China and India as the economic powerhouses, he said, but the EU remains the top trading partner for the US and most countries and regions. And while we are sipping our lattes, EU’s policies are being assimilated into Polish operations. Fine by me. Before entry to the EU, the rules for Permanent Residency status in PL varied depending on which officer was on duty on the day of inquiry. It also made me recall Esther Duflo’s Lunch with the FT – the better situated one is, the more ‘right’ decisions are made for us.

Quotes were used liberally in TEDx. RT borrowed a line from David Cameron’s TED appearance: Politics is show biz for ugly people. For a mo, I thought RT meant ugliness in character, not appearance. Dave Cameron is a fine looking chap you can take home to dine with mum. And RT surely has a grooming budget.

RT flashed statistics of various performance criteria of the EU compared with the US. The slides were flying and it was hard to gauge if they were truly comparing apples with apples. They looked good in EU’s favour, so let’s leave it at that.

What should be bolded and underlined is RT’s remark that it’s great for the first time in years Poland is a boring country. There’s no need to elaborate on the destructive forces of interesting times and PL has had plenty of that.

Speaking of quotes, a timely one swung in from A.Word.A.Day: Talent develops in tranquility, character in the full current of human life. -Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.

Did Poland’s tumultuous past forge the characteristics that Poles are wearing at the EU Parliament? According to RT, Polish MEP’s have the reputation of cutting to the chase to get things done. Good to have you pitching for Poland, RT.

Best in Performance Arts
Top entertainment points for Madie Bovska’s body control of the Dodecaudion. The what? Exactly. Could we have a name that doesn’t mangle the voice box and mental storage unit? You can see the Dodecaudion demo on Vimeo, but it’s best to wait for the video of its debut on TEDx Warsaw (I’ll insert the link when it’s up).

The Dodecaudion is commendable because it’s the fruit of people with different knowhow working together. You might ask what’s so commendable about team work? Aren’t most projects a case of stitching different skills together to get it off the ground? Speaker Jakub Koźniewski noted that in PL there’s still plenty of mistrust among independent parties and he would like to see a platform where mavens could merge and collaborate…without getting scammed or short changed, I supposed. When he finds such a milieu, he should inform Marcel Andino Velez, deputy director of Warsaw’s Museum of Modern Art. In a recent interview I had with MAV, he cited mistrust among Poles as one reason for delays, not only in the construction of MoMA’s future home but also top priority projects like highways.

The Dodecaudion is like a Theremin made easy and sexy. The Theremin, patented back in 1928, was used by music giants like the Beach Boys. The Theremin can belt out anything from classical music to Star Trek’s theme song. This tool requires the performer to keep the body rigid and like classical instruments, it takes practice. The Dodecaudion, though also based on the principle of hands off the equipment, sets the body free. JK said the idea is to let gestures take centre stage.

He also said it’s so easy even your grandmother can use it. I have a quibble with this granny-stereotype potshot. More than a quibble, I wanted Captain Haddock to tongue lash this jackanapes. JK can’t hold a candle to my grandmother. She rocked. As do/did many grandmothers who overcame hardship/migration/wars/post-war displacement/rebuilding to break new ground so that the likes of JK can have a cushy platform like TEDx to show off their tech toys. Alright, I shouldn’t turn this into a respect-the-grannies platform. It’s an impressive show-and-tell by JK & Co. Watch it (when they put the video up).

Part 2: Best Personal Journey, Best in TED’s Style, and Best “What was the Point?”

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About kitfchung

Experienced food and travel journalist based in Warsaw, Poland.
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