PopTech Blog

Know your rebels: Meet Parker Palmer

With PopTech: Rebellion just around the corner, we decided to ask our speakers a few burning questions. Get to know some of the fascinating people you’ll see take the stage and sign up to join the Rebellion this Oct 23-25 in Camden, Maine. 

Speaker: Parker Palmer, Quaker elder and author of “Let Your Life Speak” and “Healing the Heart of Democracy.”

What's one thing you want the PopTech audience to know about you that's not in your bio?
I have three granddaughters who bring me great joy, ages 5, 8, and 23, a joy I also experience in the wilderness. At the other end of the spectrum, I've had three bouts with deep depression in my adult life. Of course, I would not wish that experience on anyone, but all three episodes have been powerful "schools of the spirit" for me.

What does being a rebel mean to you?
Following my own inner guidance—not merely against something but in service of something better—after testing it in community with people I trust.

What are you reading?
Maira Kalman's "The Principles of Uncertainty." Volume One of Mary Oliver's "New and Collected Poems." I'm also re-reading a lot of Wendell Berry, especially his remarkable novels on the people of Port William. And I'm re-reading Courtney Martin's fine book, "Do it Anyway."

What are you listening to?
My friend and colleague, the singer-songwriter Carrie Newcomer, has a new album called A Permeable Life. We worked on some of the songs together, and I'm listening to it over and over, amazed by the magic she does with words and music.

What are you working on at the moment?
I'm writing a new book, my tenth, titled "The Poem I Would Have Writ" after a couplet by Thoreau: "My life has been the poem I would have writ/But I could not both live and utter it." I'm 75, and I think of this as my "old man book." My ninth book, "Healing the Heart of Democracy: The Courage to Create a Politics Worthy of the Human Spirit," has just come out in paperback with a new Introduction and Discussion Guide, and I'm working hard on creating more citizen conversations across the lines that divide and disempower us.

Who are you most looking forward to hearing speak at PopTech
Everyone! And I look forward with special pleasure to appearing with my friends Krista Tippett— a Renaissance woman and the finest interviewer in the land—and Courtney Martin, a brilliant young culture critic and creator who always teaches me a lot and gives me hope. Courtney is on the board of the Center for Courage & Renewal, a nonprofit I founded twenty years ago, so she's kind of my boss!

Word association: Maine...
Hurricane Island Outward Bound thirty years ago; being frozen with fear in the middle of a rappel; being asked by an instructor what was wrong; hearing a whiny voice (mine) say, "I don't want to talk about it!" Then hearing the instructor say, "If you can't get out of it, get into it!" I've tried to live by her words ever since—and it's good advice for rebels, I think!

My rebellion soundtrack would be:
Three Leonard Cohen songs—"Democracy," "Anthem" and "Hallelujah"—and two from Carrie Newcomer: "If Not Now" and "Room at the Table."

If you could pick one historical figure to watch give a PopTech talk, who would it be?
Leonardo da Vinci.

Best piece of advice you've ever received:
Get over it! Also, "Time flies like an arrow, but fruit flies like a banana." 

Karaoke? Yes, no, curious. Go-to song?
"Tower of Song" by LC. But Quaker midnight is at 10 PM, so I don't know if I'll be able to show at Cuzzy's!

Know your rebels: Meet Josh Klein

With PopTech: Rebellion just around the corner, we decided to ask our speakers a few burning questions. Get to know some of the fascinating people you’ll see take the stage and sign up to join the Rebellion this Oct 23-25 in Camden, Maine. 

Speaker: Josh Klein, hacker of all things 

What's one thing you want the PopTech audience to know about you that's not in your bio?
When I was 9 I tried to use Darwinian evolution to breed man-eating spiders in my bedroom. 

What does being a rebel mean to you?
Striving for a goal with real consequences.

What are you reading?
Thomas Picketty's “Capital in the Twenty-First Century.” 

What are you listening to?
Skalmold and Puffy Ami Yumi.

What are you working on at the moment?
That's a big list - but top two are a email platform for improving your network (Ntwrkr.is) and a Distributed Autonomous Corporation using the block chain mechanism from Bitcoin to decentralize and democratize high-wealth tax mitigation strategies to force policy change.

Who are you most looking forward to hearing speak at PopTech?
Don't make me choose just one!! 

Word association: Maine...
...is a state?

My rebellion soundtrack would be:
That unique, soft inhalation of breath that happens when someone understands that you've just substantively changed the rules of the game without them noticing.

If you could pick one historical figure to watch give a PopTech talk, who would it be?
Franklin Roosevelt.

Best piece of advice you've ever received:
If you care, do something about it. Nothing else matters.

Karaoke? Yes, no, curious. Go-to song?
No promises!!

Know your rebels: Meet Helen Fisher

With PopTech: Rebellion just around the corner, we decided to ask our speakers a few burning questions. Get to know some of the fascinating people you’ll see take the stage and sign up to join the Rebellion this Oct 23-25 in Camden, Maine. 

Speaker: Helen Fisher, PhD, is a Biological Anthropologist at Rutgers University and Senior Research Fellow at The Kinsey Institute, Indiana University. She's an expert on romantic love.

What's one thing you want the PopTech audience to know about you that's not in your bio?
I’m an identical twin. So long before I learned about the Nature/Nurture controversy, I was busy weighing how much of my behavior was biologically based, and how much was learned. In fact, most of my projects have been investigations into how humans are ALL ALIKE, instead of how we differ. For example, I have been interested in the basic ways that we all love, as well as four broad biologically-based personality styles that I suspect are seen in all societies.  

What does being a rebel mean to you?
An iconoclast. An independent thinker.

What are you reading?
I’m reading “Orange is the New Black,” by Piper Kerman. It’s a searing view of life in a women’s prison. 

What are you listening to?
Jazz, specifically Catherine Russell. (I’m not well educated in jazz.)

What are you working on at the moment?
I’m tearing through myriad academic articleson everything from Ardipithecus ramidus who lived 4.4 million years ago to articles on the evolution of female orgasm—all part of my current project to update my 1992 book, “Anatomy of Love.” 

Word association: Maine...
Avia peragro loca. (I travel to places off the beaten path.)

My rebellion soundtrack would be: 
Let’s rock!

If you could pick one historical figure to watch give a PopTech talk, who would it be?
Jonathan Swift.

Best piece of advice you've ever received:
“Keep your eye on the ball.”  And “Be useful as well as ornamental.”

Know your rebels: Meet Adam Steltzner

With PopTech: Rebellion just around the corner, we decided to ask our speakers a few burning questions. Get to know some of the fascinating people you’ll see take the stage and sign up to join the Rebellion this Oct 23-25 in Camden, Maine. 

Speaker: Adam Steltzner, Engineering Fellow at Jet Propulsion Laboratory and leading the development of the Sampling System for the Mars2020 project.

What's one thing you want the PopTech audience to know about you that's not in your bio?
I really like building trucks and camping in the Mojave and Death Valley back country. Building stuff with my hands forces me into intimate contact with my limits and takes me out of the theoretical and shoves me squarely into the practical. Building stuff by hand is hard and slow and so agonizingly real. It is great therapy for me.

What does being a rebel mean to you?
Following your vision regardless of how it is viewed by others.

What are you reading?
My overwhelmingly voluminous emails…

What are you listening to?
Sylvan Esso, my latest crush, St. Vincent who I had the good fortune of hanging out with at last years Smithsonian Ingenuity Awards, M83, some old school Phoenix and I am sort of stuck on Bon Iver.

What are you working on at the moment?
Landing on Europa, softening the suspension on my 1998 3/4 ton Cummins Diesel Ram 4x4 and raising a very willful 2 year old.

Who are you most looking forward to hearing speak at PopTech?
My brilliant friend, Joe Palca.

Word association: Maine… 
Granite.

My rebellion soundtrack would be: 
Wide open desert vista and old school Air.

If you could pick one historical figure to watch give a PopTech talk, who would it be?
Enrico Fermi.

Best piece of advice you've ever received:
When one looks back on life, one remembers the great highs and the great lows, but the stuff in the middle fades away. Don’t shrink from striving for the great highs for fear of the great lows.

Karaoke? Yes, no, curious. Go-to song?
No. 

Know your rebels: Meet Jessica Lawrence

With PopTech: Rebellion just around the corner, we decided to ask our speakers a few burning questions. Get to know some of the fascinating people you’ll see take the stage and sign up to join the Rebellion this Oct 23-25 in Camden, Maine. 

Speaker: Jessica Lawrence, executive director of NY Tech Meetup (NYTM) 

What's one thing you want the PopTech audience to know about you that's not in your bio?
I inherited both a sweet tooth and a love of baking from my dad, who got his sweet tooth from his father and his baking gene from his mother. I like to bake everything from soft pretzels to butterscotch pie to blackberry lavender scones. When I travel I love exploring whatever baked goods are the local specialty. And I often look at the dessert menu before ordering dinner so I know how much room to save.   

What does being a rebel mean to you?
I think being a rebel means some of the traditional things we associate with the word: being willing to speak truth to power, questioning the status quo. It means choosing to do the thing that you believe in even when it’s not the socially acceptable choice. But I think it goes beyond simply rebelling against the external world – I think it can mean rebelling against your inner world as well. It means questioning the definitions you’ve created for yourself – the limits that you’ve placed on yourself through your own internal dialogue. Sometimes we keep living stories about who we are that we first wrote for ourselves in middle school or high school. Some story about how we are socially awkward or not good at math. That story doesn’t have to stay with you or define you for your entire life.

What are you reading?
I’m reading “Essentialism” by Greg McKeown, “Wellbeing” by Tom Rath and Jim Harter, and I always keep something like a collection of Robert Frost poems or a classic Seth Godin book handy when I need an old friend. 

What are you listening to?
I’ve been listening to Beck’s new album Morning Phase and have been revisiting Paul Simon’s Graceland and Rhythm of the Saints albums – albums I remember dancing around the kitchen to with my parents when I was growing up. And my favorite non-music listening right now includes “This American Life,” “On Being,” “Good Life Project,” “99U,” and “The School of Life.”

What are you working on at the moment?
My day-to-day work centers around leading NY Tech Meetup, thinking about how we can best support a community that has grown rapidly over the past few years. I’m also looking at the bigger picture of the impact that technology companies have in the world: how do we harness technology for the most good, to benefit all of society, not just a select few? How do we innovate without creating collateral damage that counteracts the good? How do we build businesses that challenge us to be more human, that bring us to a high point of wellbeing, and enable us to tap into our full potential?

And as I little side project, I’ve also picked up pens, pencils, and markers and have started drawing and learning hand lettering. 

Who are you most looking forward to hearing speak at PopTech
I’m a big fan of “On Being,” so I’m especially looking forward to hearing Krista Tippett’s conversation with Courtney Martin and Parker Palmer

Word association: Maine... 
This might be a little unfair, but here’s my natural way to complete that sentence: “…is next to New Hampshire.” Maine has all the wonderful things typically associated with it but for me, whenever I hear “Maine,” I can’t help but think about my experience growing up in the great state next door. 

My rebellion soundtrack would be: 
A mix of The Clash, Girl Talk, Beastie Boys, Lauryn Hill, Queen, and Pharrell Williams might be just about right. 

If you could pick one historical figure to watch give a PopTech talk, who would it be?
Martha Graham – I would love to know more about how she saw the world.  

Best piece of advice you've ever received:
My grandmother used to sit next to me at every family holiday meal. I was a picky eater, and usually had white turkey, white rice, and mashed potatoes on my plate at Thanksgiving and that was it. In her gentle and jovial way, she always pushed me to “try just a little bit” of the other foods on the table. I didn’t listen to her very well at the time, but that advice to just try something, to just take one little step forward, is advice that resonates with me now.

Karaoke? Yes, no, curious. Go-to song?
Karaoke is not a typical activity for me, but that doesn’t rule it out.

Got FOMO? PopTech schedule is now live!

Today we’re excited to reveal the PopTech: Rebellion schedule! Coordinate your travel plans accordingly so you don’t miss your favorite speaker, the opening cocktail party, the Friday night bash and the Saturday finale.
 
There are only a handful of tickets left, so be sure to secure your spot ASAP at the Rebellion this Oct 23-25. See you in Camden. Show me the schedule!

Know your rebels: Meet Alec Ross

With PopTech: Rebellion just around the corner, we decided to ask our speakers a few burning questions. Get to know some of the fascinating people you'll see take the stage and sign up to join the Rebellion this Oct 23-25 in Camden, Maine. 

Speaker: Alec Ross, leading expert on innovation; former senior innovation advisor to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton 

What's one thing you want the PopTech audience to know about you that's not in your bio?
Worked as a midnight janitor and on a beer truck in West Virginia.

What does being a rebel mean to you?
Taking incoming fire because you are bombing the right targets.

What are you reading?
The Director” by David Ignatius and “Ready Player One” by Ernest Cline.

What are you listening to?
I'm using YouTube to re-live the music of the 1980s. It's cheesy and it makes me happy happy happy.

What are you working on at the moment?
A book about the industries of the future.

Who are you most looking forward to hearing speak at PopTech?
Helen Fisher.

Word association: Maine…
October.

My rebellion soundtrack would be: 
Smashing Pumpkins' Gish.

If you could pick one historical figure to watch give a PopTech talk, who would it be?
Thomas Jefferson.

Best piece of advice you've ever received:
Live abroad.

Karaoke? Yes, no, curious. Go-to song?
You don't want me near a karaoke machine.

John Maeda talks to "Innovation Hub" about design, tech, & PopTech

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 will be joining and reporting from the Rebellion next month in Camden. Over the coming months, you'll see some of their amazing content cross-posted on the PopTech blog. To kick things off, they recently sat down with conference host John Maeda to talk all things design, tech, and of course —PopTech. 

John Maeda Designs the Future 
Read the original post on "Innovation Hub" here.  

Big, beige, boxy. 

The gadgets of the past probably weren't the most visually interesting — but what mattered was inside, the technology that no one had ever seen before. 

“Technology used to be the only reason you’d buy a high tech gadget. You wanted to know what was in it,” says John Maeda, a design partner at Kleiner Perkins, a venture capital firm that’s backed companies like Amazon and Google.

Maeda, who's an award-winning designer, has a foot in both the artistic and technological worlds. He’s the former president of the Rhode Island School of Design, but he also studied electrical engineering and computer science at MIT and worked in the MIT Media Lab (now run by Joi Ito).

It's a combination that makes him particularly well suited to today's tech landscape — and that's drawn him a huge following in Silicon Valley (and on Twitter, of course). 

“It used to be only a few people could make these things [gadgets], but now, everyone can make these things. So design’s become a differentiator."

But distinguishing between types of design is crucial, Maeda notes. There’s surface design - the sleek silver or candy-colored cases - and there’s deeper design.

“Real great design,” says Maeda,” isn’t about the wow effect, it’s about the after wow effect. You buy it, you bring it home, and after a month you’re like, wow.”

Tech companies themselves used to think of design as an afterthought, but up-and-coming businesses are starting to fully integrate programmers and artistic types.

Snapchat - which Kleiner Perkins recently invested in - is an example of a company that placed design at the core of a product. Its founders realized that people want an app that deletes messages soon after they're opened, reducing tech clutter in much the same way you might reduce clutter in your closet.

“In the past, you’d have technologists make a product and add design. Snapchat was done by hybrid people, people who design and code, so the concept is embedded in the technology.”

In late October, John Maeda (and we at Innovation Hub) will head to Camden, Maine for the annual PopTech conference. There, he hopes to think creatively about the future - what trends are shaping our world, where technology is headed, and how it's changing us as people.

Postcard from PopTech 18

PopTech is just around the corner and it's been exciting to bring together some old and new friends to the old (definitely not new, but still beautiful :-) opera house in Camden, Maine. There's a mood in the world around connecting design, technology, and people -- and there's no better place on earth than October 23 to 25 in one of the prettiest towns in the US with some incredible speakers mixed-in with a fantastic audience spanning the US and the world. I just spoke with WGBH's Innovation Hub Radio Host Kara Miller about why we want design more than ever in the digital era, and why being at PopTech 18 is an especially good idea right now.

Speakers at this 18th year of PopTech include: 

and the full list is right over here.

As of September 6 there are just a few seats left [registration link] -- hope to see you there, and if you aren't able to get a pass this year then definitely at PopTech 19! -JM


Know your rebels: Meet David D. Burstein

With PopTech: Rebellion just around the corner, we decided to ask our speakers a few burning questions. Get to know some of the fascinating people you'll see take the stage and sign up to join the Rebellion this Oct 23-25 in Camden, Maine. 

Speaker: David D. Burstein, CEO and co-founder of Run for America 

What's one thing you want the PopTech audience to know about you that's not in your bio?
Five years ago I began an effort to watch all of the greatest films ever made (numbering several thousand), and I have a little over 1,000 left to go.

What does being a rebel mean to you?
Questioning absolutely everything.

What are you reading?
Summer Meditations” by Vaclav Havel, “The Circle” by Dave Eggers, and “So Damn Much Money” by Robert Kaiser.

What are you listening to?
It’s summer, so the entire Van Morrison discography is on loop.

What are you working on at the moment?
Running Run for America, we’re trying to break gridlock in Washington and restore imagination and innovation into government by electing a new generation of hyper-talented leaders to office.

Who are you most looking forward to hearing speak at PopTech?
Sarah Lewis, I think she’s brilliant, I heard her talk a few months ago and she blew me away. Ditto on Courtney Martin, am a big fan of hers, we have the same publisher and we’ve been trying to get together for a while and I think it’s finally going to happen at PopTech.

Word association: Maine...
Peaceful.

My rebellion soundtrack would be:
“Like a Rolling Stone” (Bob Dylan), “Jump” (Van Halen), “Satisfaction” (Rolling Stones), “You Can Get It If You Really Want” (Jimmy Cliff), “Stage Fright” (The Band), and “Rebel Rebel” (Bowie)…I had to.

If you could pick one historical figure to watch give a PopTech talk, who would it be?
Benjamin Franklin, he was the original American innovator and rebel.