PopTech Blog

Speakers announced for Culture Clash

As the cultural barriers that once separated us as people continue to give way, those that remain are both the source of great conflict, and also our greatest possibility.

We’re excited to reveal a few of the many speakers who will come together this October for our 20th anniversary at PopTech: Culture Clash.

Lizz Winstead, co-creator and former head writer of The Daily Show and co-founder of Lady Parts Justice; Jenna Wortham, writer for the New York Times Magazine and chronicler of technology's influence on culture, race, education, and health; Alan Alda, Emmy Award-winning actor and recipient of the National Academy of Sciences Public Welfare Medal; Esther Perel, psychotherapist recognized as one of the most original and insightful voices on couples and sexuality across cultures; Platon, world-renowned photographer and human rights advocate; Physics Nobel Laureate John Mather, from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center; and Grammy Award-winning musician, beatboxer and former Roots member, Rahzel, are just a handful of the eclectic voices you’ll hear from as part of this increasingly relevant discussion. Stay tuned as we share more speaker and program updates! 

Together we’ll examine the provocative issues that dominate the headlines and continue to raise our awareness and challenge our hearts. We will come away with a deeper perspective on what is happening and the possibilities that could come next, as well as the inspiration to take positive action in our communities. Add your voice to the conversation and join us for an unforgettable journey at this unique moment in history. 

Meet us in DC for July ICT4Drinks

Mark your calendar! We’re excited to co-host the July ICT4Drinks with our friends at TechChange and meet members of the Washington, DC ICT4D community. One lucky attendee will win a free ticket to our 20th annual gathering, PopTech: Culture Clash. Hope to see you then. 

When: Wednesday, July 20
Time: 5:30-8:30pm
Where: Piola, 2208 14th Street Northwest, Washington, DC 20009
Sign up: Register on Eventbrite

Celebrating a nation of makers

June 17-23 marks this year’s National Week of Making, building on President Obama’s Nation of Makers initiative that began in 2014. As Obama stated, during this weeklong event "we celebrate the tinkerers and dreamers whose talent and drive have brought new ideas to life, and we recommit to cultivating the next generation of problem solvers.”

Coinciding with the National Week of Making is the second annual National Maker Faire, taking place June 18-19 in Washington, D.C. It will feature makers from around the country as well as Federal Agencies such as the Department of Education, National Science Foundation, National Endowment of Arts, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Described as “part science fair, part county fair, and part something entirely new,” Maker Faire originally launched in the Bay Area in 2006 and has since grown to additional cities.

We’re excited to see what new technologies and inventions emerge from this weekend’s convening. If you’re in the D.C. area, free tickets are still available. More details on tickets, location and logistics can be found on National Maker Faire’s websiteIf you’re not local, follow along @natlmakerfaire and #NMF16. 

PopTech 2016: Culture Clash

A NASA explorer, a presidential joke writer, a sex scientist, a Nobel Laureate, a National Academy of Sciences award winner and a game creator…they will all come together on the PopTech stage this year for our 20th anniversary gathering, Culture Clash!

We will reveal our first lineup of speakers in a few weeks but we wanted to lift the curtain to give you a peek of what you’ll experience this October in the beautiful seaside village of Camden, Maine.

This is a big birthday for us, so we turned to the PopTech community to create the programming, ensuring an exciting mix of talks, performances, and provocative conversations. Hats off to our curatorial advisors and hosts for 2016!

Now, a surprise gift for you! Register before midnight on June 10th and only pay $1500, a 25% discount off the registration fee of $2000. Be sure to secure your place.

Plus, the first 100 people to register by June 10th will get a guaranteed seat in one of the new surprises this year: intimate fireside chats led by a Culture Clash Speaker or Host.

We are delighted to welcome back our longtime sponsors Toyota, Steelcase, National Geographic Society and N Square, and are excited to announce a new partnership with WIRED.

This is a PopTech you cannot miss! Join us for a lively exploration of what divides and unites us in an era of opposition. We promise, you will not be disappointed.

PopTech and Microsoft present: The Changing World of Work

Two years ago PopTech and the Microsoft Office Envisioning team partnered to create a documentary short that captured the forces influencing how we work now and into the future. Our exploration became a rich collaborative learning journey that uncovered a treasure trove of insights from diverse sectors and geographies. As we interviewed artists, futurists and leaders, complex patterns surrounding the very notion of ‘work’ began to emerge.

Enhanced connectivity has increased productivity but for some, threatens to squelch creativity due to constant distractions and a sense of “always being on.” We have the freedom to work from all corners of the globe as digitally connected teams; yet can experience isolation that results in disengagement. Rapid technology advances are creating new opportunities that are generating value faster than at any point in human history, yet provoking fear of massive job loss to automation and robotics.

Patterns gave way to questions: What is the role of a leader, particularly during these changing times? How do we live up to our potential? Are traditional brick and mortar offices constraining creativity? Are they even necessary? How do we create shared space – settings where humans and machines productively collaborate? How do we assess and accordingly act on the ethical challenges presented by advanced technologies?

Please join our exploration as we present what has now evolved into an eight-part video series, The Changing World of Work, a production of Microsoft and PopTech.

This post was co-authored by Leetha Filderman and Beth Cohen

Harlem First: Mapping the health of a community

Over the last several months PopTech has had the honor to partner with an elite group of collaborators on an emerging approach that strives to understand how social innovation design can influence the health of a community.

Harlem First: Mapping the Health of a Community celebrated our longstanding partnership with Design for Social Innovation at the School for Visual Arts (DSI) in New York, founded by PopTech Emeritus Board member, Cheryl Heller. The project leveraged the talent of PopTech Fellows and tapped the wisdom, commitment and energy of a number of Harlem-based organizations and community members, including the Arnhold Institute for Global Health, directed by PopTech Fellow Prabhjot Singh and Strive International. The role of social innovation design as a pathway to solution development is well documented in several sectors. Our instinct to blend aspects of social innovation (talent, technology, design, research and engagement with the community) has been at the core of PopTech’s mission for many years. Using community mapping as a tool to understand the factors that influence the health of a community was at the center of our work on Harlem First. Our early findings demonstrate the value of community mapping as an engagement tool – enabling community members to collect their own data – and more importantly, providing a path for citizens to co-create solutions to the challenges they uncover. Our notion that residents of a community see things that are invisible to others, and often go undetected in official statistics, was validated.

Harlem First: Mapping the Health of a Community was a multi-faceted initiative that provided numerous points of interaction, contemplation and relationship building. These exchanges, and the subsequent knowledge gained, were made possible through a host of community activities and an interactive gallery exhibition at the SVA Gramercy Gallery, all of which took place throughout the month of January. Our work on this early phase of the project culminated with the Harlem First Symposium, convened by DSI at the SVA Beatrice Theater on February 1. The event brought together health professionals, politicians, local agencies, designers, community leaders, Harlem residents and data scientists to hear a conversation about the insights this initiative has brought to light.

Panelists, including Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.; community leader and public servant, Clyde Williams; Prabhjot Singh, Director of the Arnhold Global Health Institute; East Harlem tenants’ activist Carmen Quinones; and Robert Carmona co-founder of Strive, represented health providers, government, community leaders and residents. The panel discussed community health through the lens of policing, surveillance and criminal justice; the impact of unemployment; the visibility of health services; affordable housing; and what a community loses when its longer-term residents leave. A video of the symposium is available here.

Our work on Harlem First was advised early on by PopTech Fellows Patrick Meier and Jake Porway. We were honored to engage 2016 PopTech Fellow Primož Kovačič, who traveled from Kenya and generously contributed his expertise in community mapping, teaching two master classes for DSI students, Harlem residents, community organizations and health providers. Reflections of his time in Harlem are shared in his blog post.

We would like to express our gratitude to staff and faculty of DSI for the enormous contributions they made. The initiative would not have been possible without their dedication, the commitment of first year students in the Mapping and Visualization Design class, and the creative brilliance of Kevin O’Callaghan, who brought our work to life in the gallery exhibition. The ability to see the invisible through maps was made possible by talented cartographer Gabriel Schuster. A full recap of all aspects of Harlem First can be found on the DSI blog.

Harlem First represents the beginning of a body of collaborative work. Please stay tuned as we continue to share our insights and expand the scope of this promising initiative.

Solutions outside the box that are really working

“Over 2 billion people in the world do not have bank accounts, which means that cashing checks and sending money can be difficult. Currently, this kind of money-moving incurs exorbitant fees for people in developing countries, says Joyce Kim, co-founder of Stellar.org. Stellar is a network that enables money to move directly between people, companies and financial institutions digitally. It digitizes the entire process, which drastically reduces transaction costs to almost zero.”

Stellar.org is just one of the groundbreaking organizations that writer Jenny Chen (@americanhaiku) learned about when she attended PopTech: Hybrid this past October.

Jenny attended PopTech as part of our collaboration with the Solutions Journalism Network, which promotes “rigorous and compelling reporting about responses to social problems.” SJN sponsored a contest to send one lucky journalist to the conference to write about promising “hybrid” solutions and models for positive social change. Jenny was selected to represent the SJN and to report on what she learned for the Huffington Post.

One of Jenny’s resulting pieces (excerpted above) highlights four innovative organizations from the latest class of PopTech Fellows and speakers that tackle global challenges in technology, education, financial inclusion, and healthcare. Read how OpenFn, the African Leadership Academy, Stellar.org, and City Health Works are taking hybrid approaches to problem solving that’s proving to be successful. Jenny also profiled Noora Health, an organization co-founded by PopTech Fellow Edith Elliott. Noora Health trains at-risk patients and their families with high-impact health skills so they can take care into their own hands and homes. 

Joyce Kim presenting at PopTech: Hybrid.

Fun fact/watch this: Courtney Martin, Co-Founder of the Solutions Journalism Network, took the PopTech stage in 2014 alongside Krista Tippett, Host of “On Being,” and author/educator Parker Palmer for a moving conversation on rebellion and the human spirit. 

PopTech: Hybrid talks now online!

Starting today, you can re-watch and share PopTech: Hybrid stage talks and performances any time, any place. Be inspired by Eric Liu as he urges us to celebrate the relentless hybridity of the American people and learn how Fred Swaniker is re-imagining education in Africa and beyond. Hear from Giorgia Lupi on how data-gathering can be a personal documentary and be swept away by Maira Kalman’s humorous reflections on the everyday experiences that influence her work. Be sure not to miss the 2015 class of PopTech Fellows sharing their impactful work in healthcare, human rights advocacy, financial inclusion, and conservation. 

There are so many moments in technology, design, science, social innovation, and culture to be discovered in the PopTech: Hybrid library.

Happy viewing! 

Tune in: The Brain with David Eagleman coming Oct 14 on PBS

It’s been an honor having David Eagleman join us at PopTech not just once, but twice— in 2010 and 2012. His talks (“Possibilianism” and “Brain Over Mind”) are some of the most widely viewed PopTech talks of all time. Set aside time to check them out, if you haven’t already.

We're thrilled to share the news that he’s hosting a new science series on PBS that will kick off on Wednesday, Oct 14. This new show, “The Brain with Dr. David Eagleman,” features six one-hour episodes that “tell the story of the inner workings of the brain and take viewers on a visually spectacular journey into why they feel and think the things they do" through a blend of scientific data and personal stories. Visit PBS to learn more, watch the trailer below, and join us in tuning in this week. 

"For the past 20 years, I’ve been trying to understand how what happens in three pounds of Jello-like material somehow becomes us—what we feel, what matters to us, our beliefs and our hopes. Everything we are happens in here."  —David Eagleman 

Introducing the 2015 PopTech Fellows!

Since 2008 the PopTech Fellows programs have been identifying and mentoring some of the world's most talented individuals who are working to ensure the well-being of citizens around the world through scientific exploration, advocacy and humanitarian efforts. Today we are honored to welcome the PopTech Fellows class of 2015, a combined group of innovators and scientists who join a remarkable alumni network of 155 past Fellows.

The class of 2015 represents our first-ever combined class of social innovators and scientists, a decision that grew from our Fellows program retreat last year. Since the early years of the program, we have worked to create an atmosphere that supports the collaborative potential between Fellows. We hope to enhance that potential in this combined class of amazing innovators and scientists representing the fields of healthcare, human rights advocacy, financial inclusion, technology platform development and conservation.

Fellows and program faculty will head to North Haven Island in Penobscot Bay on October 15 for immersive sessions that concentrate on amplifying the scale and impact of their work. On October 22-24, the Fellows head to Camden, Maine to join the greater PopTech community at PopTech 2015: Hybrid.

The PopTech Fellows program is generously supported by the Autodesk Foundation, the Omidyar Network, the Rita Allen Foundation, National Geographic and Genentech