PopTech Blog

See what you missed? Be here in 2017!

We couldn’t have asked for a better 20th year celebration. Culture Clash, hosted by Moran Cerf and Carly Chaikin, will go down in history as one of the most eye-opening, optimism-generating, future- facing gatherings we’ve ever held. In just a few weeks, we’ll share all of the amazing talks that had participants buzzing. Meanwhile, take a gander through #poptech and our Facebook album for highlights, and watch some of our favorite moments below. (Warning: Expect serious regret and delayed FOMO to set in.)

Don't make the same mistake twice. Last week we exclusively opened registration for PopTech 2017 to on-site participants. Today we’re excited to publicly announce PopTech 2017, taking place October 19-21. Through the end of the month, an early bird registration rate of $1600 is available. (Tickets regularly $2000.) Secure your ticket and let the countdown begin!

If you’re looking for a convening that showcases truly breakthrough ideas and projects, brings together an engaged and passionate community, and kicks B.S. to the curb, look no further. Be here next October. 

PopTech and Microsoft Office Envisioning present: Supercreativity - An interactive salon

PopTech and the Microsoft Office Envisioning Team recently convened an interactive Salon – SuperCreativity – at NeueHouse in New York. The Salon was designed to explore pressing questions and gain insights from new constituents – as part of our overall commitment to investigating forces that influence how we work now and into the future. Our decision to focus the Salon on creativity was guided by earlier research and the insights we gained during the first phase of our journey, which produced the eight-part video series, The Changing World of Work.

Digital transformation, automation, evolving work environments and increasing volatility are changing the way we work, think, create and produce. In the midst of these transitions, we are witnessing a shift from economies of scale to economies of innovation. As a result we are forced to ask, "How do we foster a culture of passion, engagement and creativity at work? How do we get away from risk aversion? How do we drive a workplace paradigm shift away from simple efficiency to one of fearless creativity?”

As we curated SuperCreativity we focused on present day reality and future possibility. For much of the last 100 years our workplaces, educational systems and management styles have remained heavily influenced by an industrial age system of management created by Frederick Winslow Taylor. Today we live in an interconnected world, data is coming at us at unparalleled speeds and volumes, networks are allowing information to flow faster than ever before and technological changes are happening at rapid rates. These factors create unpredictable scenarios when it comes to productivity, efficiency, and ultimately, creativity. How do we behave, adapt, and survive when change happens at the speed of light? How do we encourage collaboration when teams are distributed across the globe? How do we work in automated settings while still placing a high value on human agency?

SuperCreativity provided an intimate setting to explore a variety of perspectives on creativity, starting with reflections from iconic thought leaders Scott Barry Kaufman and David DeSteno.

Scott, a cognitive psychologist who researches intelligence, creativity and well being at the University of Pennsylvania, spoke about the importance of imagination, daydreaming, and harmonious passion in setting the stage for optimal states of creativity. In fact, when we are given the space to daydream, we are better equipped to create complex cognitive thoughts, resulting in more creativity. If you’ve ever doubted your messy mind or messy creative process, rest assured you may be doing something right.

David, a psychology professor at Northeastern University, studies how emotions shape social and economic decision-making, as well as how moral emotions like gratitude and compassion can be leveraged at the individual and societal levels to enhance human flourishing. He helped us understand the factors that come into play when enhancing creative thinking in collaborative team situations, particularly the roles of empathy and trustworthiness. It ends up, trustworthiness is a critical component to team well being and empowerment during creative processes – trust is imperative if we are to create great things.

Deep dives into key content areas were played out in small workgroups hosted by subject area experts, and included:

  • “How do we promote a culture of fearless creativity and how is it different?” — Aaron Dignan of The Ready
  • “What types of tools can enhance our thinking and creativity?” – Jer Thorp of the Office of Creative Research
  • “How do we design to maximize human agency and creativity when working with AI?” – Kate Crawford of Microsoft Research and Kati London of Microsoft Fuse Labs
  • “How can we promote and augment creativity with new physical and digital environments?” – Chris Congdon of Steelcase and Adam Day of Nike
  • “How can we establish trust and creative openness in teams?” –David DeSteno

Over the course of the coming weeks we will be reviewing and sharing the key questions and insights we gained during this interactive rest stop on our longer journey focused on how we work and create in the 21st century.

We will be launching an online forum that encourages insight sharing, feedback and a platform for collaboration. In addition, we are planning a small series of interactive convenings that build on our work to-date, creating an opportunity for broader partnership, collaborative exchange and co-creation. We hope you will join us for the journey ahead!

Please watch for updates via the PopTech blog and newsletter. For additional information, please be in touch via cwow@poptech.org or haraldb@microsoft.com. Also follow our work and updates on Twitter at @poptech and #supercreativity.

This post was co-authored by Leetha Filderman, President, PopTech and Anton Andrews, Microsoft’s Director of Office Envisioning

Vanessa De Luca on getting out the vote and the importance of humility

This year marks our 20th anniversary in bringing together people from all over the world to explore the ideas, people, and projects that are shaping the future. The countdown is officially on, and we can’t wait to welcome these wildly talented speakers into the PopTech community. Until then, we’ll give you a peek inside their eclectic worlds. Join us October 20-22 at PopTech: Culture Clash to meet them in person.

Meet the speaker: Vanessa K. De Luca is Editor-in-Chief of ESSENCE magazine, the preeminent lifestyle magazine for African-American women. As the brand’s editorial leader, she oversees the content and vision of the core magazine as well as ESSENCE.com, the daily online destination for African-American women. Her influence extends across ESSENCE’s various brand extensions—including top-tier events such as the internationally renowned Essence Festival (held annually during Fourth of July weekend), the ESSENCE Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon and ESSENCE Black Women in Music.

What has been your proudest moment thus far as Editor-In-Chief of ESSENCE?
I can say there have been two: Our recent October 2016 issue with the President and Mrs. Obama on the cover was a full-circle moment for the brand; we first covered the family when he was still Senator Obama, and to be able to chronicle them both throughout their White House journey has been monumental for both the brand and our audience. I am also proud of our #BlackLivesMatter cover in February of 2015, which was our first-ever cover without a celeb or model. It reinforced our commitment to covering the issues our community cares most about, and using our platform to give voice them.

What are you working on at the moment?
With the countdown to the presidential election in full swing, we are working hard to make sure that the influence of the Black women’s vote is neither undervalued nor underestimated. Our October issue focused on the elections, and we are also partnering with a number of organizations and outlets to amplify the need for the candidates to both address issues of most concern to Black women, which is a powerful voting bloc.

Describe your immediate reaction to the theme of “Culture Clash”:
The theme basically points to this tipping point we are experiencing right now across all areas of thought leadership. The tension between what we say we value and then what actually captures our attention has never been greater. It’s also exciting, because it means there is room for reinvention and for new ideas and solutions to present themselves.

What books are on your nightstand?
Right now I am reading everything from New York Magazine’s coverage of the Obama years, to critically acclaimed novels like “Behold the Dreamers” by Imbolo Mbue and “The Underground Railroad” by Colson Whitehead. And I just finished a non-fiction book, “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks,” which simply blew me away. I finished it in two days.

Best song, band, album, or podcast you’ve recently heard:
Solange’s new album has been exciting to explore—it took her four years to write it, and I admire the fact that she decided to take her time to let her ideas evolve and blossom. I especially like the song, “Don’t Touch My Hair,” because I can so relate to that! LOL.

Who are you excited to hear speak at Culture Clash?
Jean Case of the Case Foundation—and not just because I will be interviewing her. :) I am curious to learn more about the foundation’s commitment to women and minorities, and how its leadership envisions this commitment coming to life over the next few years. 

You’re hosting a dinner party. Who are your dream guests and why?
MSNBC host and commentator Joy-Ann Reid, because she’s just so smart; Uzo Aduba because I admire the thoughtful, deliberate ways she approaches her art; and, if she were still alive, Maya Angelou, because, well…wisdom.

My personal mantra is:
A winner never quits; a quitter never wins. I got it from an Archie’s comic book when I was a kid—it just stuck with me.

Where do you reach for inspiration?
Lately it’s been business brands like Fast Company—I like to read about how to be more productive, open and innovative, both in my profession and in life. 

My superhero power would be:
Humility. It is so underrated, but has served me well over the years, especially in an industry where you have to deal with a lot of outsized egos.

What advice would you give your younger self?
Stop worrying so much; everything works out in the end exactly the way it’s supposed to be. Trust the universe to deliver what you need, when you need it.

We like to karaoke at PopTech. Are you in? Go-to song?
Yes, I karaoke, but my song selection is suspect for sure—I always aim higher than I should!

It's time to pay attention! More speakers added

PopTech: Culture Clash is less than one month away! We can’t wait to welcome the PopTech community to kick off our 20th anniversary gathering. If you haven’t already secured your ticket…what’s the hold up? Why you should join us: 

1) The PopTech community is welcoming, passionate and action-oriented. It doesn't tolerate inconsequential B.S., and its commitment to making the world a better place runs deep. You will be in good company.

2) Where else will you find a Nobel Laureate, “Mr. Robot” actress, rocker activists, a NASA scientist, a world renowned photographer, a writer for the New York Times Magazine, the co-founder of The Daily Show, the brains behind Bernie Sanders’ record breaking online fundraising, the creator of #OscarsSoWhite, and the most important game changer on sexuality and relational health since Dr. Ruth, all together in the same room in a quaint village in Maine? (Nowhere.) We promise you won’t find a program as thoughtfully crafted as Culture Clash anywhere else.

3) Speaking of Maine, there’s nothing quite like the magic of Midcoast Maine in October. The intimate, idyllic setting provides a sanctuary from the chaos – an opportunity to fully plug into the PopTech experience. You’ll leave feeling informed, refreshed, and energized by the immersive nature of your time in Camden.

4) We’re only turning 20 once. Don’t miss it. We’ll see you soon, ok? 

Look who just joined! 
We’re thrilled to reveal a handful of additional speakers joining the line-up including: A certain whistleblower who exposed major accounting and risk violations at Deutsche Bank and turned down an $8.25M award from the SEC for moral reasons; Jean Case, a renowned philanthropist, investor, and technology pioneer who is the CEO of the Case Foundation and the first female Chairman of the National Geographic Society Board of Trustees; Creative executive and author Matt Mason, head of the newly launched 1-800-NOTH1NG, a gamification-focused media lab building immersive products and content; Jill Sobule, critically acclaimed singer-songwriter and vocal political force whose latest project “My Song Is My Weapon” provides an online platform for artists and musicians to showcase their socially conscious and political work; and Bonnie Paul, co-founder of the nonprofit The Freedom To Choose Project, which provides imprisoned men and women with the skills to succeed after they are released, including techniques for choosing responsibility, handling anger constructively, and finding forgiveness and inner freedom. We’re also excited to welcome back EepyBird, who will debut a new performance at PopTech. 

Collaboration alert: PBS NOVA and Simon Hauger of The Workshop School

The PopTech conference has served as the starting point for several of our collaborative projects – and we find that this is true for many PopTech participants as well. We credit the intimate and informal setting at PopTech for helping to forge these meaningful bonds. 

Today we’re highlighting a collaboration that was born at PopTech 2011. It’s where David Condon of PBS NOVA heard Simon Hauger proclaim, “urban education in this country is broken.” Simon and two friends decided to build The Workshop School in West Philadelphia, focused on challenging students to solve real-world problems. His high school students have built hybrid cars, entered into the X-Prize, and beat out competition from Ivy League universities.

Fast forward several years, and David and Simon have collaborated on a new PBS special called School of the Future. It shines a spotlight on some of the big ideas emerging from the sciences that can help make school work better for all kids, no matter what their background may be. The film was screened at the White House and included a panel in which Simon participated. Find out more by visiting School of the Future and following along on Twitter using #SchoolFuturePBS. 

Over the past 20 years, PopTech has showcased emerging trends in education, highlighting the educators, researchers, and activists who believe that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to teaching and learning. If you haven’t already, be sure to check out past PopTech talks by Amanda RipleyAsenath AndrewsZach Lieberman, and of course Simon Hauger, to name just a few. 

Have a PopTech collaboration to share? Send your story to comm@poptech.org for a chance to be featured on the blog. 

Special offer: Feedback Summit 2016, 10/27-28 in DC

Great events are in store following PopTech: Culture Clash next month. On October 27-28, join our friends at Feedback Labs in Washington, D.C. for two days of collaboration with your fellow feedback enthusiasts. The practice of closing feedback loops will drive the conversations and experiential learning at Feedback Summit 2016. Their interactive sessions are designed to let you hear from -- and talk to -- the people and organizations that are leading the way in closing feedback loops. You’ll leave the Summit with the tools and knowledge you need to tackle the barriers to closing feedback loops in your own work, as well as a connection to a strong community of fellow practitioners, funders, researchers and champions committed to pushing this agenda forward.

Be sure to use code SUMMIT_POP to get a special discount on your registration! 


Not a fan of conferences? Nick Martin thinks PopTech will change your mind

Our 20th anniversary gathering, PopTech: Culture Clash, is less than a month away. In anticipation, we're asking members of the PopTech community to share with us how they first ended up at PopTech and why they return to Camden, Maine every October. First up is Nick Martin, a 2013 PopTech Social Innovation Fellow and PopTech board member. 

When was your first PopTech and how did you end up in Camden?
I first came to PopTech in 2013 when I attended as a Social Innovation Fellow. I came across some PopTech stage talks online sometime in 2008 and discovered some of my now heroes like Ken Banks, Heather Fleming, Erik Hersman, Jacobo Quintanilla, and Matt Berg. It had always been a dream of mine to be a Fellow. In 2010 I started my organization TechChange and set out to build a new model for training and online learning for the social sector. After some encouragement from alumni Fellows, I finally applied to be a Fellow myself. Since then, it’s been an amazing ride and I’m so grateful to have found such a welcoming and wonderful community.

What made PopTech different from other innovation conferences you've attended?
I generally hate conferences – the endless panels, speakers reading their speeches word for word, mind-numbingly bad food and forced networking hours. PopTech is an experience more than a traditional conference. The quality of the people, the charm of Camden, and the truly amazing community dating back 20 years -- it’s unique and not-to-be-missed. 

Favorite PopTech memory to date:
Well, obviously it was really fun to be able to give a stage talk about online learning as part of the Fellows program,  but some of my favorite memories are...

  • An impromptu trip to the Rocky Maine coastline with fellow Fellows Jon Wilker and Nicole Van der Tuin to look at barnacles. In addition to being a PopTech Science Fellow, John is one of the world’s foremost experts on underwater adhesion.
  • A one-on-one sit-down with famed social enterprise blogger and critic Kevin Starr and having him tell me that my business model, was “...not that bad.” :)
  • A hilarious conversation with one of the band members of Arcade Fire (Richard Reed Parry) about my teaching days -- specifically when one of my former students passed off some of the band’s song lyrics as their own for a poetry assignment.
  • Critiquing speaker's Power Point slides with presentation legend Michael Duarte.
  • The entire Fellows program.
  • And so many of the talks including Paola Antonelli, Maira Kalman, Shah Selbe, Fred Swaniker, and Giorgia Lupi. (I now use her Dear Data project as an assignment in the courses I teach.)

Three (or more!) reasons why someone should attend PopTech:

  1. This is the best line-up of speakers we’ve had in years. Hands down. It’s so exciting to see the breadth and caliber of people and ideas represented.
  2. But don’t just come for the speakers. Come for all of the unscripted, hilarious, and deeply moving moments that take place on the ride up to Camden, in the opera house balcony, on the street, in the coffee shop, over lobster rolls, etc. You won’t find so many incredible people in one place at any other point of the year.
  3. My brother, Chris Martin, one of the the world’s leading scientists who teaches chimpanzees and orangutans how to play video games, will be there. I mean come on, how cool is that!

We ask speakers this question so we need to ask you, too. Do you karaoke? If so, go-to song? (Background: On Thursday and Friday nights at the conference, you'll find PopTech participants at the local Camden bar for quality bonding over pool and of course, karaoke.)

  1. "Escape" by Enrique Iglesias (in Spanish
  2. "Total Eclipse of the Heart" by Bonnie Tyler. 
  3. "Genie in a Bottle" by Christina Aguilera. 

David DeSteno on using gratitude and compassion as tools for pursuing success

This year marks our 20th anniversary in bringing together people from all over the world to explore the ideas, people, and projects that are shaping the future. The countdown is officially on, and we can’t wait to welcome these wildly talented speakers into the PopTech community. Until then, we’ll give you a peek inside their eclectic worlds. Join us October 20-22 at PopTech: Culture Clash to meet them in person.

Meet the speaker: David DeSteno is a professor of psychology at Northeastern University, where his work centers on examining how emotions shape social and economic decision-making, as well as on how moral emotions like gratitude and compassion can be leveraged at the individual and societal levels to enhance human flourishing. 

Tell us about your forthcoming book, “Emotional Success.”
Everyone agrees that a key ingredient of success is the ability to be future-oriented: to delay gratification, to persevere in the face of difficulty, to be willing to work hard. But it's in how to do that -- how exactly to cultivate a gritty tenaciousness -- that I think we as individuals and as a society have gone astray. If you look at major thought magazines, the bestsellers in your local bookshop, or even what kids are taught on Sesame Street, it's always a version of the same message: perseverance and self-control come from using reason and willpower (or what's termed executive function) to tamp down emotions. But as someone who has spent decades studying emotions and the brain, I'm here to tell you that this view isn't only incorrect, it's damaging -- damaging not only to our ability to reach our goals, but even to our health and psychological wellbeing. In “Emotional Success,” I'm setting out to show not only how relying on reason and willpower to reach your goals can set you up for failure -- as in reality, both these faculties are pretty fragile -- but also how doing so can lead people to pursue success in ways that can shred social relationships. The best way to develop self-control, perseverance, and resilience is to use specific emotions as tools, not as states to be avoided. Emotions like gratitude and compassion automatically make us value the future, and in so doing, make us willing to accept sacrifices in the moment that will lead to greater rewards in the future. But there's an added bonus. Regular cultivation of these states won't only help you work harder, save more, eat better, and the like, but will simultaneously build ties to others -- ties that will protect your mind and body from the ravages of loneliness. Using states like gratitude and compassion to grow self-control and perseverance will help ensure that at the end of our days, our eulogy virtues will be as strong as our resume ones.

What are you working on at the moment?
Besides my new book, I'm working on two types of projects. The first is a series of experiments meant to shed light on how and why the mind feels compassion for others. Figuring the answers to that puzzle will help us design scalable interventions -- something I feel is necessary as societal levels of empathy and compassion keep dropping. The second is a series of workshops meant to help scientists learn how to write for the public (e.g., Op-Ed's, feature articles for thought magazines, etc.).

Describe your immediate reaction to the theme of “Culture Clash”:
Brilliant! We're in the midst of so many clashes right now, some based on ethnicity, others on gender, others on political or religious ideology -- the list goes on. Isolation isn't the answer. Walls won't solve problems. We need safe spaces to openly share views, not safe spaces that encourage us to hear only what we want. In Culture Clash, what I hope we'll find is a sharing of ideas with openness, empathy, and respect. In my view, that's where the best solutions will come from.

What books are on your nightstand?
Notes from my editor! I have to finish this book or I'm in big trouble...

Who are you excited to hear speak at Culture Clash?
That's a tough one. It's an amazing line-up. If I had to pick one, I guess it would be Alan Alda. As I noted above, I'm working with colleagues on developing workshops to help scientists communicate more easily with the public. I know Alan is a leader in this type of endeavor, so I'm looking forward to learning more about his ideas and approach.

My superhero power would be:
Gratitude and compassion -- they make everything else that seems difficult easier. 

What advice would you give your younger self?

As you might remember, we like to karaoke at PopTech. Are you in? Go-to song?
You better hope not. I couldn't carry a tune for all the money in the world.  

Actress Carly Chaikin of Mr. Robot & neuroscientist Moran Cerf to host Culture Clash

We are thrilled to announce the hosts of PopTech’s 20th anniversary, PopTech: Culture Clash! Actress Carly Chaikin, star of the Golden Globe award-winning and Emmy Award-nominated show “Mr. Robot” will take the stage with neuroscientist and business professor, Moran Cerf.

As the first pair of co-hosts in PopTech’s history, together they will navigate an array of topics including politics, culture, sex, communication, science and art.

Actress Carly Chaikin, notable for her role as Darlene, one of the leaders of an underground hacking movement in “Mr. Robot,” has become a role model for young female coders. Carly was nominated for a Critics’ Choice Award and Teen Choice Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role, and is an ardent supporter of women in tech. This October, she’ll join forces with real life hacker-turned-neuroscientist, Moran Cerf.

Moran Cerf is a professor of neuroscience and business at the Kellogg School of Management, where he studies decision-making and behavior in economic contexts. His curiosity for understanding the brain and human behavior came from his decade-long career as a hacker, breaking into top financial organizations and governments to test their security.

We’re also excited to add two incredible speakers to the program: April Reign, creator of the viral hashtag #OscarsSoWhite and challenger of the lack of representation of marginalized communities in Hollywood and beyond; and human behavior scientist Jon Levy, who studies influence and adventure, and applies neuroscience and psychology research to economics and biology.

Presented by WIRED, PopTech: Culture Clash is taking place at a moment when an exploration of the global challenges and possibilities that will shape our future has never been more relevant. Join us for a not-to-be-missed convening of community, breakthrough ideas and impact. 

PopTech is only five weeks away—don’t wait—order your tickets

PopTech is 6 weeks away - book your lodging!

With summer in the rearview, it’s the perfect time to start thinking about your plans for the fall. Hopefully, these plans include coming to Camden for PopTech: Culture Clash! Accommodations are filling quickly between the PopTechers and the leaf peepers so the sooner you can make your reservations, the better. To help you streamline the process, we’ve pulled a few options below for various budgets and needs. Many hotels block out dates online as to save them for PopTech participants. With that in mind, we suggest you talk to the hotels directly to book your rooms, but if you need any assistance don’t hesitate to reach out to us at registration@poptech.org. See you soon!

Walking Distance
Camden Windward House (877-492-9656)
3 minute walk to the Camden Opera House
$162 (Breakfast included)

Camden Riverhouse (800-755-7483)
3 minute walk to the Camden Opera house
$199-$249 (Breakfast included)
3 night minimum

The Inns at Blackberry Common (800-388-6000)
6 minute walk to Camden Opera House
$149-$199 (Breakfast included)

Camden Harbour Inn (800-236-4266) 
7 minute walk to the Camden Opera House
$615-$1295 (Breakfast included) 

Driving Distance 
Birchwood Motel (207-236-4204)
6 minute drive to the Camden Opera House
$119-150 (Breakfast included)
10-20% discounts available depending on length of stay

The Claddagh Motel & Suites (800-871-5454)
10 minute drive to the Camden Opera House
$89-$159 (Breakfast included)

Inn at Sunrise Point (207-236-7716)
8 minute drive to the Camden Opera House
$375-459 (Breakfast included)

Ripples - Inn at the Harbor
15 minute drive to the Camden Opera House
10% discount for PopTech participants 

House rentals
If you’re traveling with a group, be sure to check out Airbnb and Camden Accommodations for house rentals in Camden and surrounding areas. Call 800-344-6090 or email info@camdenac.com for information.

Photo credit: Roman Boed via Creative Commons license.