PopTech Blog

This week in PopTech: Stories of cultural excess, programming power and...how to tell them

There's always something brewing in the PopTech community. From the world-changing people, projects and ideas in our network, a handful of this week's highlights follows.

If you'd like to receive a stream of these updates (and more) throughout the week in real time, follow us on TwitterTumblrFacebook, sign up for our newsletter, and subscribe to the PopTech blog.

Image: infamecless

Watch now: Writer Andri Magnason on preserving Iceland through the power of words

From the Icelandic food store chain, Bonus, to the midnight sun, everyday Iceland inspires writer Andri Magnason. His poetry and children's books reflect his deep connection to his homeland as does the way he's schooled himself—and the public—on preserving Iceland’s beauty and natural resources.

In case you missed it, check out who will be taking the stage at PopTech Camden here.

Listen now: amiina, former string section for Sigur Ros, wows at PopTech Iceland

Icelandic five-piece band amiina got their start as the string section for the legendary Sigur Ros and took the PopTech stage with a glockenspiel, a musical saw, a couple of violins, drums, and a laptop. The result? Seventeen minutes of complex, sweetly innocent music that we think will brighten your day.

amiina will be at PopTech Camden 2012! Secure your ticket here

Watch now: Simonetta Carbonaro on how consuming less can make you happier

What are the economic and emotional benefits of consuming and producing less? How can the power of words be used to preserve a country’s beauty and natural resources? What does the combination of a glockenspiel, saw, violins, drums and a laptop sound like? This week we’re excited to debut videos from a musical group and two presenters who took the stage in PopTech Iceland last month: an Icelandic five-piece band, a consumer psychologist, and an activist poet.

First up, a talk from Simonetta Carbonaro, a consumer psychologist who encourages us to think differently about consumption. She reminds us that a consumer-hungry outlook for cheaper and faster is outdated, and that we now know that consuming and producing less, in fact, creates more jobs, more free time, and more happiness. 

Enjoyed this talk and craving more? Join us at PopTech Camden this fall. Register today.

This week in PopTech: Music videos, documentaries and radio shows

There's always something brewing in the PopTech community. From the world-changing people, projects and ideas in our network, a handful of this week's highlights follows.

If you'd like to receive a stream of these updates (and more) throughout the week in real time, follow us on TwitterTumblrFacebook, sign up for our newsletter, and subscribe to the PopTech blog.

Image: Profound Whatever

Speakers announced for PopTech 2012!

How does a country in financial crisis rebound? How does a faltering company rally in the face of disaster? How does an individual spring back from personal tragedy?

In an age marked by volatility of every kind, how do we help people and systems persist, and even thrive, amid disruption? How do we foster greater resilience?

The answers could not be more pressing for companies, communities, individuals, leaders, and the planet as a whole. They’re the central ones we’ll be exploring at PopTech 2012: Toward Resilience, convening this October 17-20 in beautiful Camden, Maine.
We’ll explore the role of creativity, technology, and learning in building resilience, and what might it take to bolster America’s ability to rebound. We’ll explore what new science is revealing about building our personal and organizational resilience in the face of change.
This will be, without question, one of the strongest programs we’ve ever presented, and we're happy to unveil just a few of the remarkable speakers and performers you'll encounter, amid many other surprises and delights.

  • C.J. Huff, the superintendent of Joplin Schools since July 2008, led his district of 1,100 employees and 7,700 students through the recovery effort that has followed the devastating May 22, 2011 tornado that ripped through the heart of Joplin, Missouri.
  • Dean Karlan is President of Innovations for Poverty Action, a non-profit organization that creates and evaluates solutions to social and development problems, and works to scale-up successful ideas through implementation and dissemination to policymakers, practitioners, investors and donors. He is a Professor of Economics at Yale University.
  • Amy J.C. Cuddy is a social psychologist whose latest research illuminates how “faking” body postures that convey competence and power (“power posing”)— even for as little as two minutes—changes our testosterone and cortisol levels, increases our appetite for risk, and configures our brain to cope well in stressful situations.
  • David Eagleman is a neuroscientist with joint appointments in the departments of neuroscience and psychiatry at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. His areas of research include time perception, vision, synesthesia, and the intersection of neuroscience with the legal system.
  • Bill Shore is the founder and chief executive officer of Share Our Strength®, a national nonprofit that is working to end childhood hunger in America.
  • Amanda Ripley is an investigative journalist who writes about human behavior and public policy. For Time Magazine and the Atlantic, she has chronicled the stories of American kids and teachers alongside groundbreaking new research into education reform.
  • Adrian Anantawan, born without a right hand, began the violin at nine, and has since established himself as "a rising star in classical music" (Globe and Mail). He also helped to create the Virtual Chamber Music Initiative at the Holland Bloorview Kids Rehab Centre—a cross-collaborative project that develops adaptive musical instruments for use by young persons with disabilities within a chamber music setting.
  • Asenath Andrews founded and is currently the principal of Catherine Ferguson Academy, an alternative public high school for teen mothers that also provides early education services for the children of those high school moms.
  • David B. Agus is one of the world’s leading cancer doctors and an international leader in new technologies and approaches for personalized healthcare.
  • Sandro Galea is a physician and an epidemiologist whose research seeks to uncover how determinants at multiple levels of influence—including policies, features of the social environment, molecular, and genetic factors—jointly produce the health of urban populations.
  • David DeSteno is currently a professor of psychology at Northeastern University where he directs the Social Emotions Lab. At the broadest level, DeSteno’s lab examines the mechanisms of the mind that shape social behavior.
  • Margrét Pála is a renowned Icelandic educator and child care specialist, and the creator of the Hjalli pedagogy that employs such methods as sex-segregated classes, natural play instead of conventional toys and a belief in discipline as a way of training social skills.
  • Juan Enriquez is a senior research fellow and director of the Harvard Business School Life Science Project, and is recognized as one of the world’s leading authorities on the economic and political impacts of life sciences.
  • David Bellwood, a marine biologist and an internationally recognized expert in coral reef fishes and systems, combines skills in such disparate fields as ecology, palaeontology, biomechanics and molecular systems to understand the nature of reefs.
  • John Doyle is a renowned systems scientist at CalTech and an expert in control and resilience in complex systems. As the John G Braun Professor of Control and Dynamical Systems, Electrical Engineer, and BioEngineering, he has focused his research on the theoretical foundations for complex networks in engineering and biology, and specifically on architecture, and for multiscale physics.

If ever there was a year to come to PopTech, this is it.  We hope you’ll join us!
Register here to secure your seat today – this event promises to sell out quickly.

The retro futuristic Ghosts at the New Museum

Gianni Colombo’s “Elastic Space” (1968)

Recently opened at the New Museum in New York is Ghosts in the Machine, an exhibition which surveys the constantly shifting relationship between humans, machines and art. Last year’s trailblazing Talk to Me at the Museum of Modern Art celebrated and explored our brave new world of human-machine interfaces. Here, Massimiliano Gioni, helmsman of next year’s Venice Biennale, and co-curator Gary Carrion-Murayari, offer in response a shadowy prehistory, full of strange fears and visions, from a time not long past when such communication could only be imagined.

Stan VanDerBeek’s “Movie-Drome” (1963-66)

Exciting rediscoveries on display include American avant-garde film-maker Stan VanDerBeek’s Movie-Drome (1963-66): a dozen projectors emblazon the interior of a hemispherical tent – originally a converted silo – with a kaleidoscopic array of meshed multimedia images that prefigure the immersive experience of the web. Gianni Colombo’s Elastic Space (1968) offers an optimistic vision of what it might feel like to be inside a conscious machine: walking into a dark room, you are surrounded by a glowing three-dimensional matrix of cords, stretched by gently whirring pulleys, that seems to softly breathe.

Hans Haacke’s “Blue Sail” (1964-65)

The roughly 140 works, ranging from the buoyant, like Hans Haacke’s Blue Sail (1964-65), a bright blue chiffon sheet floating in mid-air, to the horrific, like the anonymously-made life-size reproduction of a torture machine from Franz Kafka’s short story, In the Penal Colony, take us on an elliptic journey across the 20th century from the mechanical, to the optical, to the virtual. It’s striking how the artists gathered here do not seem to have imagined that machines might be our way to each other – there is little foreshadowing of social media, and there are only oblique traces of the human to be found in the technological landscapes on display. You find yourself wondering if our design virtuosity has humanized the machine world, or if we are the future the past feared it might become.

Curator Gioni writes, “Men and machines live together in a ‘dream-like life’. It is this oneiric state, this magical union, that we explore in this exhibition."

For some PopTech glimpses of what dreams may come next, check out Desney Tan and Scott Saponas: Our bodies as the interface; Neri Oxman: On designing form; and Kelly Dobson: Machine therapy.

Images: Courtesy of the New Museum, New York. Photo: Benoit Pailley

Image-wise: Earth as art

Small, blocky shapes of towns, fields, and pastures surround the graceful swirls and whorls of the Mississippi River, the largest river system in North America. Countless oxbow lakes and cutoffs accompany the meandering river south of Memphis, Tennessee, on the border between Arkansas and Mississippi. via

The U.S. Geologic Survey recently held a competition for their "Earth as Art" collection. Captured by the Landsat series of Earth-observing satellites, the land imagery provides a fresh perspective on the Earth's landscape by highlighting certain geographic features through color. As described by NASA:

During a span of 40 years, since 1972, the Landsat series of Earth observation satellites has become a vital reference worldwide for understanding scientific issues related to land use and natural resources.

Over 14,000 people voted on the images submitted to the competition and winners were recently announced. Two of the top five images can be seen here, but for all five picks, have a look at NASA's "Earth as Art" page.

What look like pale yellow paint streaks slashing through a mosaic of mottled colors are ridges of wind-blown sand that make up Erg Iguidi, an area of ever-shifting sand dunes extending from Algeria into Mauritania in northwestern Africa. Erg Iguidi is one of several Saharan ergs, or sand seas, where individual dunes often surpass 500 meters (nearly a third of a mile) in both width and height. via

Images: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/USGS

HT Very Short List

This week in PopTech: Local food, design laboratories and free mp3s

There's always something brewing in the PopTech community. From the world-changing people, projects and ideas in our network, a handful of this week's highlights follows.

  • This week D-Rev: Design Revolution, which is run by 2011 PopTech Social Innovation Fellow Krista Donaldson, was highlighted in Fast Co.Exist. D-Rev bringing state-of-the-art, user-centric products to empower the lives of the four billion people living on less than four dollars a day.
  • In food tech news, 2011 Social Innovation Fellow Erica Block's Local Orbit was featured on Xconomy.comLocal Orbit provides one-stop-shopping with an online platform that provides customized websites with e-commerce, management, and marketing tools to help streamline the local food supply chain.

If you'd like to receive a stream of these updates (and more) throughout the week in real time, follow us on TwitterTumblrFacebook, sign up for our newsletter, and subscribe to the PopTech blog.

Image: Simon Rankin

Festival of movies and art to support the sharks

Whale shark

We seem to be sticking to an oceanic theme this past couple of weeks, with recent posts on whales and coral reefs. Maybe it's a result of our recent trip to Iceland. Or maybe it's because Shark Week is just around the corner.

The ocean continues to captivate us, this time in the form of a marine-themed film festival and art show, currently traveling down the West Coast of the United States. The project, entitled The Great West Coast Migration, was organized by the Japan-based international non-profit PangeaSeed, who works to raise awareness about the plight of sharks and the destruction of their habitat. PangeaSeed is partnering with the Beneath the Waves film festival, which aims to "encourage, inspire, and educate scientists, advocates, and the general public to produce and promote open-access, engaging marine-issue documentaries."  

Here's a little glimpse at what you might see as a very sad shark tries to find his missing friend along the coastal towns and waterways of the West.

The Great West Coast Migration - Episode Two from PangeaSeed on Vimeo.

The Great West Coast Migration played in Seattle, WA and Portland, OR earlier this month, and continues on the following dates and locations:

San Francisco – July 27 – 28: Spoke Art 
Los Angeles – August 2 – 4: LeBasse Projects
Costa Mesa – August 10 – 12: The ARTery 
San Diego – August 18 – 19: Space 4 Art

Image via PangeaSeed