PopTech Blog

13 speakers added to PopTech 2014 line-up!

Check them out! Today we revealed 13 additional speakers who will take the PopTech 2014: Rebellion stage. Join us October 23-25 to hear from Paola Antonelli, Regina Dugan, Joi Ito, Platon and many more. 

Meet them all here

Collaboration alert! PopTech Science Fellow Adrien Treuille + NOVA Labs

Our annual conference often sparks diverse collaborations between participants, Fellows and speakers. (See here, here and here, to name a few.) Collaboration is at the heart of what we do and we see it as a tool for creating social impact. 

It’s why we’re excited to share the news around a recently announced collaboration between our friend David Condon at PBS NOVA and 2011 PopTech Science Fellow Adrien Treuille. It's called RNA Lab, part of NOVA Labs, which is a "new digital platform where 'citizen scientists' can actively participate in the scientific process." It involves an engaging game that might one day change the world by helping scientists better understand RNA.  

The RNA Lab is an extension of EteRNA, a computer game co-founded by Treuille, in which users design and fold real biomolecules and as a result, help reveal better ways for drugs to target diseases.

Check out the result, play the game, and help solve the mystery of how RNA work!

PopTech 2014: REBELLION

Get ready for a jam-packed, three-day exploration of how the spirit of rebellion has inspired progress across technology, science, medicine, design, business and more. Expect stage talks, smaller group sessions, workshops, happy hours and some great parties. All in beautiful Camden, Maine.

We're thrilled to announce John Maeda as our host for this year's event. A long-time friend and a legend in the design world, John has his own very special reasons for wanting you to attend.

You’ll hear some amazing speakers and performers on the Opera House stage, and who knows? They might just be sitting next to you at lunch!

Camden has been our home for nearly 20 years. If you've never experienced the joy of being in Midcoast Maine with 600 of the most curious and interesting people (and even if you have), 2014 is your year. Let the countdown begin

Ask harder questions...and freeze your jeans

Peter Durand on Ned's 2010 talk

Every day is World Water Day for some in our network. This weekend we connected with Ned Breslin from Water for People and Sameer Kalwani, former CTO at Sarvajal, to talk about what each of us can do to make a difference. The result? Three very different ways to help.

  1. Freeze your jeans. (Hint: It's a way to kill germs without wasting water.) 
  2. Invest in disinfecting UV LEDs (LEDs with wavelength of 254mm). This would provide a means for disinfecting water that uses less power than the tube lights we typically use now, and can be used anywhere. Currently, these disinfecting UV LEDs are too expensive.
  3. "Ask harder questions about long-term impact. Asking harder questions about results in almost anything can bring out the best in people, push them beyond the simple to the profound, and help us imagine bumpy but transformative paths to change. Don't just be satisfied that work has been done (like a water well constructed in Kenya), but make sure that water flows from that well forever. Make sure that those who claim to be solving a big problem are actually doing so, and do not be fooled by simplistic ansers to complex problems. By asking hard questions on impact we have a chance to change the world for good."

Watch and share these talks by Sameer Kalwani, Ned Breslin and Eric Stowe from SPLASH.

Introducing the PopTech Roadtrip! Check out the route and sign up today

This spring, PopTech is going cross country! Join us and our partners at Steelcase for an evening or morning of networking, awesome (and short) talks, and of course, good food and drink. Whether you’re interested in social impact or simply a fan of interesting people and ideas, see if we’re coming to your city and sign up for a fun time below. Want to bring a friend or two? The more the merrier! Just make sure they sign up also. But hurry - space is limited. See you soon.

New York - Thursday, April 24
Chicago - Monday, June 9
Santa Monica - Wednesday, June 11 
San Francisco - Thursday, June 12 

PopTech goes to Austin #SXSW

We came, we saw, we spent time with PopTech friends…and we made a bunch of new ones. SXSW – you treated us well. We just got back from Austin and our minds are buzzing with everything we saw and heard. And now, a recap of some of what we did:

We touched down in Austin on Friday afternoon and hit the ground running. Divide and conquer proved to be the key tactic for me, PopTech president Leetha Filderman and our board chair, Paul Schaeffer. We made it to the convention center just in time to see Erik Hersman and Reg Orton’s panel about the BRCK and designing from the rest of the world. We refueled with some brisket tacos and then set out to check out the panel, “The Next Steve Jobs May be from Africa” featuring Jessica Colaço from the iHub team. We swung by a conversation with Jean Case of the Case Foundation and heard about ways to approach social change fearlessly. An Ushahidi meet-up at the Violet Crown was the perfect way to cap off the night.

On Saturday, we worked to get our bearings. Lesson learned: Becky is not a good navigator. In any case, we kicked the day off over coffee with a PopTech friend and then managed to reunite with PopTech Fellows throughout the day, including Nick Merrill, Leila Janah and Josh Nesbit (panels here and here). While the weather was not overly cooperative (read: very rainy), a steady stream of caffeine and snacks (ie Fritos) kept us going.

By Sunday, we had a good rhythm down. We had a few energizing coffee meetings with PopTech supporters who also happened to be in Austin. We sat in on a SXSW Accelerator pitch session on health technologies and spied one of our founders, Bob Metcalfe from afar, who was one of the judges. We then hustled over to the convention center to catch the tail end of Brandon Stanton’s Humans of New York talk followed by a presentation by Fabien Cousteau. We wrapped up Sunday eve with a stop at the Spotify party at which we had the pleasure of watching Chromeo perform. Thanks to Rich Frankel for the invite – we had a great time.

On Monday, (finally, a sunny day!) we had breakfast with a PopTech friend at one of our favorite spots, Old Pecan Street Café. Back to the convention center we went, this time to catch a session with Girls Who Code CEO Reshma Saujani. Afterwards, we headed over to the Participant Media space at Wanderlust and took in a fantastic panel, “Innovating at Scale: Tech for Social Good,” which featured PopTech Fellow Anushka Ratnayake, Meighan Stone of the World Food Program USA, Meryl Stone of Google.org and Rose Beaumont of MasterCard. It was refreshing to see a panel full of smart, inspiring women. 

Later that day, we hosted a PopTech meet-up at the BitTorrent party. Thanks a bunch to Matt Mason for generously offering up their venue. It was a blast to round up the PopTech troops and spend time catching up outdoors. There’s nothing quite like looking around and seeing people we know from all over the world gathered together.

Whew. That’s some of our SXSW experience in a nutshell. It was great to see the ethos of the PopTech network — collaboration and engagement — in action. It makes us even more excited for the PopTech conference this fall. October can’t come soon enough.  

Note: Photos taken on an iPhone. Excuse the lackluster photography.

Health, art, constitutions and the truth: Reasons to celebrate on International Women's Day

Brilliant. Curious. Intrepid. Compassionate. Committed. 

The extraordinary women in the PopTech network are making a difference in the world in ways that range from producing health innovations that save mothers' lives and keep girls in school (Laura Stachel and Megan Mukuria), to making art and music that helps us remember that joy and happiness matter (Helen Marriage and Imogen Heap), to co-authoring Iceland's national constitution so that it suits its people (Silja Bára Ómarsdóttir), and to reminding us that we should always tell the truth (Laura Poitras).  And in many, many, many other ways as well. 

We celebrate the work of the women in the PopTech network this International Women's Day.

#ThrowbackThursday Toaster Talk

A #ThrowbackThursday PopTech talk from designer Thomas Thwaites, who brought us on the fascinating and hilarious journey he took to create a toaster from scratch. 

My sabbatical year

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

After more than a decade helping to transform PopTech into a respected global innovation and social change network, I am happy to announce that in 2014, I am taking a long-desired creative sabbatical. My collaborator, PopTech’s President Leetha Filderman, will be taking the reins. She and the PopTech team are preparing for an amazing 2014 calendar, including unveiling the theme and speaker lineup for our annual conference, implementing a new series of events called the PopTech Roadtrip, and identifying the 2014 classes of our renowned Fellows programs. Stay tuned for an exciting year ahead!

During this time, I’ll be diving into ideas related to our work, exploring new vistas around creativity, social innovation and resilience, and working to bring the lessons I’ve gathered in the last decade to a broader array of organizations and projects. While common in academic settings, the practice of granting sabbaticals is now gaining traction among progressive companies and organizations. I am proud that PopTech is on the leading edge of this idea.

During my sabbatical year I will remain affiliated with PopTech, acting as a strategic advisor to the Board and working on a limited number of projects. Meanwhile, I’m looking forward to engaging with all of you in our community in new ways.

Wish me luck on my adventure!



How to succeed in sports... and in life

What is the single characteristic most likely to predict success in athletes? Our mini-series concludes with two powerful women. 

We posed the question to world-class adaptive snowboarder (PopTech 2012) Amy Purdy, who said, "I believe it's your ability to visualize yourself. Visualization is mental practice and your body doesn't know the difference between mental practice or physical practice."

For those of you who don't already know, Amy is part of the first-ever Paralympic snowboarding team and will be competing in Sochi this March. We'll be rooting for you, Amy!

Olympic boxing gold medalist Claressa Shields joined Amy Purdy at PopTech 2012. She talked about her challenging journey to the Olympics and shared insights that sound familiar to those we heard from Amy Purdy, Rodney Mullen and Elizabeth Streb over this past week. Unwavering determination and the will to fight go a long, long way. Also, you might have heard that Claressa Shields recently won her first USA Boxing Elite National Title with a unanimous decision. It's a huge win for her and another step to getting her the recognition she deserves.

A common thread we've seen in talking to these athletes is many of the qualities that predict success in a sport carry over to life outside athletics, too. We hope you enjoy Amy Purdy and Claressa Shields' talks.