PopTech Blog

Dignified Work in the Digital Age

In August 2014 PopTech convened a group of diverse thinkers at the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Center to explore the notion of livelihoods in the 21st century. The task was enormous. The issues surrounding access to meaningful livelihoods impact countries rich and poor, and the underlying impediments to achieving meaningful, dignified work are numerous. 

We are pleased to present the work of the Bellagio/PopTech Fellows and program catalysts in a paper entitled “Dignified Work in the Digital Age,” which outlines a meaningful structure to analyze both the key pillars of modern livelihoods and the most salient global factors affecting them in the future.

A documentary short and a powerful talk by Robtel Paily at PopTech 2014: Rebellion further capture the unique spirit of this collaborative program.

The Bellagio/PopTech Fellows Program was made possible through the generous support of the Rockefeller Foundation. To learn more about this program, or to make inquiries regarding our work on livelihoods, please email Bellagio@poptech.org.

Spread some holiday cheer



Oh the weather outside is frightful but PopTech will be so delightful. If you’re still looking for that perfect present, consider the gift of PopTech! Today through Saturday, Dec 20, you'll receive a gift bag of fun and handy treats with your purchase of a PopTech: Hybrid $1,500 pass. With only 21 passes left at this price, now’s the time to give a loved one (or yourself, we won’t judge) a PopTech experience. Happy holidays and we'll see you in 2015! 

Reflections on World AIDS Day

In honor of World AIDS Day, we’re highlighting three PopTech projects and people that are making strides in HIV/AIDS prevention, awareness, testing and support.

Project Masiluleke
A collaborative global health initiative that harnesses the power of the mobile phone as a high-impact, low-cost tool in the fight against HIV/AIDS and TB. Project M was first launched in 2008 in South Africa by PopTech, iTeach, the Praekelt Foundation, frog design, MTN South Africa, Nokia Siemens Network and the National Geographic Society. The popular South African record label Ghetto Ruff also committed to helping make Project M a success. Project M went on to become one of the largest uses of mobile technology for public health awareness in the world. Since launching, it has been recognized by the UN, National Institutes of Health, the Yale School of Management, and many others. This past PopTech, PopTech president Leetha Filderman sat down with former frog design president Doreen Lorenzo and Robert Fabricant to give a Project M update. Watch the team below introduce Project M at PopTech 2008. 

Sinikithemba Choir
Sinikithemba Choir is a group of HIV-positive Zulu men and women who performed at PopTech 2006. They provide support to persons with HIV/AIDS at McCord Hospital in Durban, South Africa. We were so moved by their performance at PopTech that it sparked our involvement in Project Masiluleke (above).

Wild4Life
2010 PopTech Social Innovation Fellow Kel Sheppey and his organization, Wild4Life, are focused on leveraging preexisting organizations, and especially wildlife conservation NGOs, to promote HIV testing and awareness-building campaigns in remote communities.

We're grateful for the passion and ingenuity that these members of the PopTech community bring to the fight against HIV/AIDS. 

Good things come to those who plan ahead

Direct your Cyber Monday attention this way! Planning to join us at PopTech: Hybrid? There are less than 30 $1,500 passes left! Sign up today to save 25%

Join us and our host John Maeda next Oct 22-24, 2015 to explore the power and possibility found in a hybrid. Hear from Eric Liu (Citizen University), Jennifer McCrea (Harvard), Eddie Opara (Pentagram), Sputniko! (MIT Media Lab), Melissa Hoffman (Rockwell Group), and others. See you then. 

Get to know your rebels (more) for a chance to win some cool gifts!

In the months leading up to PopTech: Rebellion, we asked some of our speakers a few burning questionsWhile PopTech: Rebellion has come and gone, we're still getting to know these amazing rebels who took the stage in Camden. You can join us by watching PopTech: Rebellion talks and panels on-demand. This week, you might just win some cool gifts for doing so! Tweet your favorite quote from a PopTech: Rebellion talk or panel using #KnowYourRebels by Thursday, Nov 20, 12:00pm EST. We'll choose a lucky winner at random to receive a PopTech: Rebellion bag filled with handy and tasty treats. The winner will be DMed for a mailing address.    

PopTech: Rebellion participants took home new ideas, connections, and often an appreciation for our lovely state of Maine. We also packed in a few mementos for them to remember us by. By getting to know your rebels even more, you might just win one of these bags for yourself! Contents include: PopTech tote bag by eBay IncHiya green tea; TCHO chocolate; Muji notebook & pen; One month of free Skillshare membership; Quirky Bandits & Carabandits; Green tea Kit-Kats & Morisawa custom Tattlys; “The Red Papers” by Tham Khai Meng.

P.S If you don’t win the PopTech bag above, you can still get something fun from our friends at Modern Industry. They’re offering 20% any purchase using code poptechrebel. Nice!

Video credit: Emily Qualey

PopTech: Rebellion talks & performances available on poptech.org!

They're here! PopTech: Rebellion may be over, but you can now re-watch your favorite moments again and again in HD. Today we’re releasing each stage talk and performance from PopTech: Rebellion, hosted by John Maeda.

Find out what had Twitter buzzing during talks from Paola Antonelli, Anil Dash and Helen Fisher. Listen to heartfelt wisdom delivered by Parker Palmer, Courtney Martin and Krista Tippett. Don’t miss the ultimate rebel tale from Andrew Cotton (think: riding six-story high waves). Hear Hiroshi Ishii talk about making atoms dance. There are so many PopTech moments to be (re)discovered. Happy watching.

(If you like what you see, join us next Oct 22-24 at PopTech 2015: Hybrid. A limited amount of $1,500 passes are still available – hurry!)

David Burstein Combines Politics and Moneyball

We're big fans of "Innovation Hub," a national radio program that features some of today's most creative thinkers. It's why we're excited to partner with them around PopTech: Rebellion. They joined us in Camden at the Rebellion and over the coming weeks, you'll see some of their amazing reporting cross-posted on the PopTech blog. Enjoy! (Be sure to check out their interview with Rebellion host John Maeda and piece on Rebellion speaker Joi ito.)

Read the original post on “Innovation Hub” here.

David Burstein has a simple dream. Fix American politics.

And, yes, he knows it's going to be tough. But rehabbing our sclerotic political system may be as simple as pressing rewind.

"In 1787," Burstein told PopTech 2014, "our founders came together, and they recruited the best and brightest minds they could possibly find to come together for a Constitutional Convention to figure out how to create a new system of governance, a new country that had never been seen before."

Burstein, the author of Fast Future, has written extensively about value shifts amongst his millennial cohort. And he believes young people need to shake up the political status quo.

How? Well, you start by making government a little more like Moneyball. 

Burstein created Run for America, an organization devoted to recruiting new, talented candidates for office and using statistics to figure out which districts they can actually win in. That involves zeroing in on inexpensive media markets and districts with high numbers of young people. The new candidates will — according to Run for America — be on the ballot in 2016.

Ignoring political gridlock, Burstein says, is already having striking consequences. "In this election… there are actually three people who are convicted criminals who are running for election after coming out of jail. And all of them look like they're going to win. So in a system where our approval of the people in our institutions is so low, and we think they're corrupt and a bunch of crooks, it actually becomes a lot easier for someone who's actually a crook to get elected."

Listen to David Burstein talk about how millennials are different from the generations before them:

Joi Ito Says Kids Are Losing Creativity

We're big fans of "Innovation Hub," a national radio program that features some of today's most creative thinkers. It's why we're excited to partner with them around PopTech: Rebellion. They're with us in Camden reporting from the Rebellion. Over the coming weeks, you'll see some of their amazing content cross-posted on the PopTech blog. Enjoy! (Be sure to check out their interview with Rebellion host John Maeda.)

Read the original post on "Innovation Hub" here.

Joi Ito prides himself on being a rebel. But he worries that Americans - students, in particular - may be losing their love of rebelliousness.

"The way I explain it is, you don't get a Nobel Prize for doing what you're told. You get a Nobel Prize for questioning authority and thinking for yourself."

At PopTech 2014, Ito, the director of MIT's Media Lab, said that our educational system values conformity, lectures, and deference to power. But a little adversity may not be such a bad thing.

It's like the immune system, he argues. "The more it gets attacked - as long as you don't die - the stronger it gets and the smarter it gets… If you a take a kid and you raise the kid in a clean room with no bacteria, the kid will be so fragile that the minute they walk out of that clean room, they'll probably die."

Could American culture - which famously celebrates the cowboy, the pioneer, the easy rider - be ditching its loner ethos? 

Ito says that's exactly what's happening - and science may support his theory. At MIT, Ito's colleagues measured a student's brain activity for an entire week and found that attending class tended to result in even less activity than sleep.

"We need creative learning," Ito says. "The creativity is the thing that the computers can't do. All the repetitive physical and mental jobs will be taken over by computers."

Listen to our interview with Ito about creativity - and find out whether he thinks whether others should follow his example and drop out of college.

Introducing PopTech 2015: Hybrid!

PopTech: Rebellion is in full swing. (Tune in to watch live via Fora.TV .) Yesterday on stage we shared our plans for next year. We’re thrilled to reveal: PopTech 2015: Hybrid!

Do both. Revolutionary breakthroughs occur at points of integration — art and science, design and technology, form and function, local and global.

It's about the combination of creativity and innovation to create new models for change. At PopTech 2015, we will call together those who defy easy categorization and rejoice in the power that emerges from a hybrid.

We’re excited to announce that our Rebellion host John Maeda is coming back for round two at PopTech: Hybrid. Speakers joining him include Eric Liu (Citizen University), Jennifer McCrea (Harvard), Eddie Opara (Pentagram), Sputniko! (MIT Media Lab), and Melissa Hoffman (Rockwell Group). Find out who else will be there.

Register today to save up to $500 on your conference pass then mark your calendar for Oct 22-24, 2015. We hope to see you there! 

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!