Editor’s note: WRAL Local Tech Wire is adding another feature with the launch of the “Innovation Exchange.” Noah Garrett, former executive director of communications for the North Carolina Technology Association, is a creative spirit, from writing music to news stories, who recently launched his own communications firm. The focus of the Innovation Exchange is just that – creating a Web community through which people can exchange ideas and foster creativity.

Send ideas and feedback to: noah@thinkngc.com

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – The Innovation Exchange went live last week and you have exceeded expectations.

It is nice to see so many like-minded and not-so-like-minded people participating, and your responses from last week’s posts have been duly noted and keep them coming.

So, let’s talk about last week.

Three words come to mind: Innovation, Polka and Helmets. Apparently, my sarcastic, rhetorical question on the first post of the Innovation Exchange ruffled a few feathers in the polka community – which is fine, because disruption and collaboration leads to new ideas and success. I whole-heartedly believe this and it is obvious in my enthusiasm to bring this to you every week.

Some passionate messages flooded my inbox noting innovative polka bands from around the world. I had no idea. And, for the record, I am a nationally-signed musician who plays five different instruments and loves all music – anything from Beethoven to the Beastie Boys. Since music is subjective and polka is not high on my musical radar, I was unaware of the innovative approaches that polka musicians have been taking in the past few years. Check out some of the polka artists you submitted in the "On The Web" section to make your own judgment.

(See the Web links for more info.)

I want to thank Joe from Connecticut, who is a polka musician and bandleader. We had some interesting offline communications about Polka based on his initial email. He wrote, "… your rhetorical question implies that polka groups are not innovative, Iéd note that you could ask the same question, with greater or equal validity, about rock, country, Latin groups, etc." I agree. Then, as we moved forward with the conversation, I learned about this musical genre and listened to some of the samples he provided along with submissions from Steve, an associate editor at the Polish American Journal, Bob from New York, Scott from Charlotte, Lisa from Texas, and Mary Ann, who also is from New York.

Thank you all for participating, I learned a lot about polka and how innovation is truly everywhere, even if you don’t know it. Joe concluded with this statement in our email exchanges, and I wanted to share this because it really hits at the crux of what the Innovation Exchange is all about.

"I’m grateful that you are so open-minded … some other ‘polka people’ may write you using a less reasonable tone; if so, don’t take it to heart – some people (in every field, I’m sure) are undiplomatic, paranoid, aggressive or all of the above. It’s much better, of course, when we can discuss things, and hear each other’s perspective, without gratuitously insulting each other …."


Lastly, props to Glenn for commenting on the Science of Sports post over the weekend – and yes, my prediction of the Patriots crushing the Giants in the Big Game was way off. We don’t need any additional comments about that, thanks. Glenn pointed out that Schutt has created the new ION 4D football helmet, which absorbs up to 55 percent more impact than the Revolution from Riddell, which was noted in the initial post. You make the call. Check out the PR Web link and learn more about the ION 4D helmet.

Thanks for the "heads" up, Glenn. The next time I make a sarcastic comment about Polka, I’ll be sure to hit you up for one of those helmets.