This TEDx thing doesn’t look hard. I watched TEDxKrakow yesterday and I reckon we could do just as well. The first thing you need is a theme. The theme of TEDxKrakow was “Texting the Dragon,” which was supposed to inspire speakers to: “show how Krakow (and Poland) can be modern and progressive in the context of a rich historical tradition.” The next step is to get a bunch of people to talk about things that have nothing to do with the theme. Seriously, the only speaker who even mentioned it was our friend Charles Crawford. Perhaps TEDx themes are supposed to have a surrealistic relationship to the actual content of the conference, in which case I suggest “Tweeting Adam Małysz—the ski-jump as a metaphor for modern Poland.” I will be presenting a segment entitled “Hurtling downhill followed by scary flailing around in thin air.”
TEDxKrakow was a bit disappointing. I watched it online because I’m socially inept and didn’t get tickets. I’m kind of glad I got to watch it lounging on my sofa in a state of unshaven dishabille—I’m not sure the buttock ache of attendance would have been worth it. I got the feeling it was a random collection of people talking about stuff that was important to them, but with only token shoehorned references to the location. Maybe I’m being distracted by the geographical tag. When I see TED, I know what to expect—sometimes fascinating and sometimes baffling presentations about ideas with no particular geographical focus. When I see TEDxWarsaw or TEDxKrakow, I expect it to be about Warsaw or Krakow, and I assume the organisers want to focus attention on their cities too. Maybe they should just call in TEDxPoland. It’s not that the subjects weren’t important, they just didn’t have anything to do with Krakow.
The highlight of my intermittent viewing experience was Ewa Sadowska’s segment about deprived migrants. She just seemed to really care about her subject, although I have to say I didn’t see everybody. By contrast, Sir Julian Rose’s comments about the desirability of diminishing desires over expanding supply felt generic and touched only very briefly on a Krakow context.
In the spirit of “ideas worth spreading” I suggest the following, possibly genuinely useful, thoughts for a future TED Poland:
Can the moustache survive?
Is a county smothered in advertising really free?
Do 4,500 people have to die on Poland’s roads every year?
Is Poland really a Catholic country?
Why does one half of the Polish workforce spend it’s time frustrating the day-to-day requirements of the other half?
How to take advantage of the fact that two million of your citizens live abroad.
Where did Polish nationalism come from, and does it make any sense?
Why is there no change?
Now that’s a conference I would go and see. I can’t help but feel TEDxKrakow missed a lot of opportunities.