PopTech Blog

Record an Audio Selfie with "On Being" at PopTech!

We see selfies every day on Instagram and Facebook, on Twitter and Snapchat. But how often do you take an audio selfie? Here's your chance! Extend your voice (not your arm) and be part of the "On Being" Your Audio Selfie project. Record your stories of courage and fearlessness to share with the PopTech community while you're in Camden.

When: The producers of "On Being" will be in the PopTech press room tomorrow, Thursday, Oct 23, from 11:00am-12:30pm and 4:00pm-6:00pm. No sign up needed - just head on over. 

Where: PopTech press room (15 Elm Street, Second Floor). 

How to get there: Turn left outside of the main entrance of the Camden Opera House, walk past Washington Street, and the space is located a few doors down from the PopTech office. A sign on the door will indicate that you're in the right spot. See you then!

PopTech Take Five



I’ve had the pleasure and honor of being a member of the PopTech family for five years now. So when Leetha called me to relay the news about PopTech’s Time Out, well, I was deeply impressed. In fact, “Oh wow” were my exact words. Why? Simply this: how many organizations out there really take the time to stop, think and reflect? How many actually have the guts — nay, the nerve — to press “pause” in our hyper-changing, tech-driven maddening world where any form of slowing down runs the risk of being branded as a sign of slacking?

PopTech’s bold decision to Take Five is for me a perfect example of what makes this community so positively different from other high-profile technology conferences. Quality, humility and meaning take poll position in Camden, not quantity, delusions of grandeur or superficiality. The PopTech team could just as well have continued business as usual. It’s easy to wing something when you’ve been doing it over and over for years. It’s all too easy to become complacent, to talk the talk, walk the walk. But PopTech is choosing to walk a different, more challenging path. The team has decided to talk about their Fellow’s program and to ask themselves some difficult questions; questions that will require care, calm, time and unhurried reflection.

This decision to genuinely slow down should serve as a reminder to all of us over-achievers. When was the last time you heard a colleague say she or he wasn’t busy, that they have a wonderfully balanced life; that they regularly slow down and reflect? Exactly. Try it next time you’re at work or out with colleagues. Simply ask: “Hey, how are things? Been busy?” I’ve deliberately posed this question dozens and dozens of times across multiple continents over the past few months (as a personal experiment of sorts). And I have yet to hear this answer: “Nope, not busy but happy. I have plenty of free time during the work-day, so I’ve been leaving the office early to stroll through the park, just cause.” 

I keep coming back to PopTech every year because it is my chance to leave work behind; to slowly “stroll through the park” of ideas and reflection, “just cause.” There’s something about PopTech that makes the week feel like a peaceful retreat; a temporal refuge from hyper-speed; an opportunity to slow down, to be present; mindful, connected — not with our gadgets — but with ourselves, here, now, in the moment. So PopTech’s decision to take a slow stroll off their beaten path makes a whole lot of good sense for both innovative organizations and individuals. Let this year’s PopTech be a state of mind. Each of us can take this time to reflect on our own lives and reconnect with our own selves. If not now, when? Time to Take Five, all.

I, for one, won’t be busy this week. You won’t find me hunched over my laptop live-blogging, or catching up on work emails, or fidgeting with my smartphone as I dial into conference calls or retweeting as fast as I can. Heck, I may even leave one of the talks early for a lazy stroll along Camden’s gentle shore, just cause. Rebellious? I hope so. Rebellion is this year’s theme, after all.

Know your rebels: Meet Dan Barasch

With PopTech: Rebellion just around the corner, we decided to ask our speakers a few burning questions. PopTech: Rebellion is sold out, but be sure to tune in via Fora.TV to watch it in real-time Oct 23-25. 

Speaker: Dan Barasch, Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Lowline —an effort to build the world's first underground park.

What's one thing you want the PopTech audience to know about you that's not in your bio?
I have a terrible but very fun habit of dragging found objects (ie trash) home with me, and doing strange things with them- spray painting them, turning them into odd objects, or using as questionable furniture.

What does being a rebel mean to you?
It means looking at the world around you, realizing someone or something sucks, and then figuring out a way to make things better-- especially when it pisses others off.

What are you reading?
Another Country” (James Baldwin), “Buddha's Brain” (Rick Hanson), “The World According to Garp” (John Irving).

What are you listening to?
Cool answer: Tom Waits.  Less cool answer: "Chandelier," by Sia, roughly a million times a day.

What are you working on at the moment?
Navigating a number of New York City agencies and NY City Hall in pushing the Lowline forward.

Who are you most looking forward to hearing speak at PopTech?
Paola Antonelli.

Word association: Maine... 
Fall foliage/ resilience.

My rebellion soundtrack would be: 
Le Tigre, Morrissey, Bikini Kill.

If you could pick one historical figure to watch give a PopTech talk, who would it be?
Joan Rivers.

Best piece of advice you've ever received:
No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.

Karaoke? Yes, no, curious. Go-to song?
Sad karaoke: “There is a light that never goes out” (Smiths).  Fun karaoke: “Red Red Wine” (UB40). Messy karaoke: “We're not gonna take it” (Pointer Sisters).

Know your rebels: Meet Sarah Lewis

With PopTech: Rebellion just around the corner, we decided to ask our speakers a few burning questions. PopTech: Rebellion is sold out, but be sure to tune in via Fora.TV to watch it in real-time Oct 23-25. 

Speaker: Sarah Lewis, author of “The Rise: Creativity, the Gift of Failure, and the Search for Mastery,” curator, and art historian; Served on President Barack Obama’s Arts Policy Committee 

What does being a rebel mean to you?
This phrase, to be a rebel without a cause is meant to suggest freedom and nonconformity. I’m more interested in the cause that makes you want to rebel. What comes when we ask ourselves, what’s worth fighting for?
 
What are you reading?
I’m constantly going back to John Jeremiah Sullivan’s “Pulphead” and poetry from Tracy K. Smith’s “Life on Mars” for inspiration.
 
What are you listening to?
I’m back to the classic A Love Supreme by John Coltrane and Shirley Horn’s Here’s to Life. Always stunning. I have Somi on repeat now, too. When I go running, I listen to whatever Serena Williams has put on her workout sampler that I just downloaded.
 
What are you working on at the moment?
The struggle to recognize the dignity and humanity of all human beings cannot be waged without images. I’m finishing my book about this topic, specifically about Frederick Douglass’s long understudied speech about this topic, for Harvard University Press.
 
Word association: Maine...
Beauty. Peace. I spent one of the most blissful restorative weeks of my life in Bar Harbor when I was writing The Rise. I cannot wait to return.

Know your rebels: Meet Sharrona Pearl

With PopTech: Rebellion just around the corner, we decided to ask our speakers a few burning questions. PopTech: Rebellion is sold out, but be sure to tune in via Fora.TV to watch it in real-time Oct 23-25. 

Speaker: Sharrona Pearl, Assistant Professor of Communications and Gender Studies at the Annenberg School at UPenn; Her current project explores "facial transplants," as a way to think about what faces tell us, and what we do when we can no longer trust them.

What's one thing you want the PopTech audience to know about you that's not in your bio?
I have 3 kids. Oh, and my grandmother’s name was Pearl Pearl. (For real. She was Pearl Cohen until she married my grandfather.)

What does being a rebel mean to you?
A lot of sighing from my mother.

What are you reading?
Edward St. Aubyn – everything by him.

What are you listening to?
“Frozen,” but not by choice (see above.) On my own time, the 3620 podcast.

What are you working on at the moment?
Face transplants in 1960s film. (And why there are so many of them.)

Who are you most looking forward to hearing speak at PopTech?
Errr…everyone. Of course.

Word association: Maine...
Waterskiing. And fishing. And hockey. (Which should tell you that I’m Canadian. Yup: I snuck in another answer to #1.)

My rebellion soundtrack would be:
Internal.

If you could pick one historical figure to watch give a PopTech talk, who would it be?
Oh wow – just one? Probably Ada Lovelace.

Best piece of advice you've ever received:
Don’t waste time on regrets (from my maternal grandfather.)

Karaoke? Yes, no, curious. Go-to song?
“Time After Time.”  I can’t sing, but I can be *very* dramatic.

It's a full Rebellion!

The PopTech: Rebellion is officially full. On behalf of the PopTech team, a big thanks to everyone who purchased a ticket to join us. We can't wait to celebrate with you in a little over a week! See you soon. 

P.S. In the event that a seat becomes available, please email Senior Experience Coordinator Colleen Lafferty at colleen@poptech.org to be added to the waitling list. 

Know your rebels: Meet Bryan Shaw

With PopTech: Rebellion just around the corner, we decided to ask our speakers a few burning questions. PopTech: Rebellion is sold out, but be sure to tune in via Fora.TV to watch it in real-time Oct 23-25. 

Speaker: Bryan Shaw, award-winning chemist and assistant professor of chemistry at Baylor University; helped invent a technology that uses digital photography to screen children for a deadly eye cancer 

What are you reading? 
It's August 20th, my birthday. So I'm reading birthday cards (from my children).
[Editor's note: Please wish Bryan a very belated happy birthday!]

What are you listening to? 
The poor AC trying to keep my house cool in Texas.

What are you working on at the moment? 
Writing a paper about supercharging amyloid fibrils with an aryl ester!

Who are you most looking forward to hearing speak at PopTech?
Stanley McChrystal.

Word association: Maine...
...Group Elements. 

My rebellion soundtrack would be: 
Bob Dylan's Soundtrack to “Billy the Kid.”

If you could pick one historical figure to watch give a PopTech talk, who would it be?
Tough one.

Best piece of advice you've ever received: 
Joan S. Valentine once told me: "Bryan, chances are you are not going to be with the person you marry for the rest of your life, but you will be with their children. So pick good genetic material." I never figured out if Joan meant the whole genome or just the tumor suppressor genes.

Karaoke? Yes, no, curious. Go-to song? 
No. 

Know your rebels: Meet Erin McKean

With PopTech: Rebellion just around the corner, we decided to ask our speakers a few burning questions. Get to know some of the fascinating people you’ll see take the stage and sign up to join the Rebellion this Oct 23-25 in Camden, Maine. 

Speaker: Erin McKean, Founder of Reverb Technologies 

What's one thing you want the PopTech audience to know about you that's not in your bio?
Even though I'm a dictionary editor and people often expect me to do so, I won't correct your grammar. At all. Ever. But I will probably compliment your shoes!

What does being a rebel mean to you?
The word 'rebel' often brings to mind Marlon Brando in “The Wild One” -- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fkdqCTcDkbc ('What're you rebelling against, Johnny?/ Whaddaya got?')

But most people who are called rebels are just folks who looked up one day and realized that "the ways things are" doesn't have be the way things stay. 

What are you reading?
As usual, everything I can get my hands on. Lately I'm a big fan of various TinyLetters, especially Dan Hon's Things That Have Caught My Attention and Elizabeth Lopatto's The Weekly Wunderkammer.

I read a lot of science fiction and fantasy -- I think we're in a golden age, again, of science fiction being the literature of ideas. A few titles that stood out for me lately were “Constellation Games,” by Leonard Richardson and “The Golem and the Jinni,” by Helene Wecker. I'm also slowly making my way through The Culture novels by Iain M. Banks, and counting the days until William Gibson's next book comes out!

Other than that, at any given time I probably have twenty browser tabs open to various blog posts about trickier bits of JavaScript. I also read a lot of Twitter. Like, all of the Twitter. (Luckily the Reverb app (itunes.apple.com/app/id602336025) lets me keep up with articles shared via Twitter easily!)

What are you listening to?
Currently I'm addicted to the Hype Machine's iOS app -- there's a "Popular" feed which aggregates the most popular songs on blogs. You can check it out on the web at http://hypem.com/popular. It gives a great insight into both pop juggernauts and indie darlings. And remixes, lots of remixes and covers (I love covers).

What are you working on at the moment?
A lot of my time is spent on Wordnik for Reverb, which I love, but I'm also looking into our assumptions about how we find things that are interesting to us ("discovery") and when those mechanisms are transparent and when they're hidden. There's so much going on around this right now and not much real investigation or discussion so that's fascinating to me. People say "algorithm" like it's something that people find, not something that people make. Algorithms are just the choices we make for computers!

And I'm sewing (dressaday.com). I'm always sewing...

Who are you most looking forward to hearing speak at PopTech?
I am *really* looking forward to hearing the talks, but my favorite part of PopTech are the discussions after the talks! So maybe I'd have to say I'm most looking forward to hearing the audience talk?

My rebellion soundtrack would be:
I have a pump-me-up playlist that is all Lupe Fiasco, Mos Def, Talib Kwali, Common, and Kanye. Never fails...

If you could pick one historical figure to watch give a PopTech talk, who would it be?
I'd love to hear talks by some of the pioneering women scientists of the past -- Sophie Germain, a mathematician at the time of the French Revolution; Trota of Salerno, who practiced medicine in the 13th century; or Maria Mitchell, the first American woman to discover a comet.

Karaoke? Yes, no, curious. Go-to song?
I've only ever done karaoke once! (Not through any aversion, it just hadn't come up until about six months ago.) I sang Chaka Khan's "Feel For You." (Most of the witnesses were inebriated, so evaluations of my performance are lacking.)

PopTech Fellows: A time to review, reflect, rebel

Since the launch of the PopTech Fellows programs in 2008, we’ve had the honor of welcoming 142 social innovators, scientists and domain experts into the PopTech community, many of whom were in the early stages of their social innovation journey. Over our first six years, this extraordinary group of thinkers and doers has made major strides to alleviate poverty, injustice, and violence, and improved access to healthcare, water, power and other vital services that reach millions of individuals worldwide. The Fellows program, at its core, is a reflection of our instinct to create a deeply connected network with a talent for cutting-edge problem solving and lasting impact. 

This year, we won’t inaugurate a new class of PopTech Fellows. We are grabbing instead for the rare and opportunistic moment to bring our existing community together. Life moves fast these days, and time, particularly for review and reflection, seems to be a commodity in short supply. It’s said that a rebellion without a thoughtful strategy is simply just acting out. In the spirit of our conference theme, this year we’re going deep, reviewing what the Fellows program has accomplished, and developing a strategy for how to continue our rebellion against complacency.

Alumni from both the Science and Social Innovation Fellow programs, as well as the 2014 Bellagio/PopTech Fellows will join us at PopTech: Rebellion. We’re spending dedicated time with these alumni Fellows and other key stakeholders to look back at where we have been and more importantly, to thoughtfully and collaboratively plan the journey ahead. We are excited by the luxury to consider the future in a high-speed world that doesn’t often stop to reflect, iterate and plan for what’s next.

Throughout the year, we look forward to finding new ways to inspire collaboration across the Fellows network and within the broader PopTech community. Stay tuned for what’s to come. In the meantime, we hope to see you at PopTech 2014: Rebellion!

Know your rebels: Meet Doreen Lorenzo

With PopTech: Rebellion just around the corner, we decided to ask our speakers a few burning questions. Get to know some of the fascinating people you’ll see take the stage and sign up to join the Rebellion this Oct 23-25 in Camden, Maine. 

Speaker: Doreen Lorenzo, president of Quirky

What's one thing you want the PopTech audience to know about you that's not in your bio?
I spent the majority of my teenage years at CBGB's.

What does being a rebel mean to you?
I don’t think there is any such thing as being a rebel; if you call yourself a rebel you are a fake.

What are you reading?
Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn.

What are you listening to?
Ike and Tina Turner Compilation.

What are you working on at the moment?
About a 100 new products.

Who are you most looking forward to hearing speak at PopTech?
David Burstein.

Word association: Maine...
Cold.

My rebellion soundtrack would be:
Adele.

If you could pick one historical figure to watch give a PopTech talk, who would it be?  
Mother Teresa.

Best piece of advice you've ever received: 
Don’t be emotional.

Karaoke? Yes, no, curious. Go-to song? 
I am a listener.