PopTech Blog

Shorts: Tony Orrico performs at PopTech

Artist and choreographer Tony Orrico impressed us with a performance of his work at PopTech’s closing night party this year. In this video, he creates a smaller scale version of his durational Penwald Drawings, in which he uses his body to inscribe geometric shapes on paper, recording his motion meticulously and with grace.

This week in PopTech: PopTech-ers making news

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.

  • Sarah Fortune's (2010 Science Fellow) collaboration with Crowdflower, a company that facilitates crowdsourcing small data tasks for people to solve, was featured in FastCo Exist for the success they've had with a protocol that is able to identify TB bacteria via crowdsourcing. Fortune says, "I consider it a workhorse tool for my research, and I personally conceive of it as a workhorse tool for biology in general." 
  • In more crowdsourcing science news, Adrien Treuille (2011 Science Fellow) was interviewed by Forbes about the games he builds to solve biochemistry problems. 
  • The Daily Beast profiled 2009 Social Innovation Fellow Hayat Sindi who launched i2, the Institute for Imagination and Ingenuity, at PopTech 2011. Dr. Sindi created the institute to bridge the gap between education and opportunity in the Middle East.
  • A new study that examines how fossils, climate records and DNA reveal the unpredictability of Ice Age die-offs was published in Nature and written by evolutionary biologist Beth Shapiro (2010 Science Fellow). The results from Shapiro and her colleagues have taken the science news media by storm with stories appearing everywhere from ABC Science Online to USA Today
  • CNN was in Camden for PopTech 2011 and chose a handful of speakers that they deemed the "5 most fascinating people you've never heard of." The list includes the "real life batman," a game designer, a connector and advocate for 'maker' culture, and the locust whisperer. Curious to find out more? Click through for the complete list and more, including video. 

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: FastCo Exist

Murmuration at its best

For your viewing pleasure - this may be one of the most beautiful things you'll watch today. Murmuration, or the shape-shifting of flocks of starlings, takes place each fall as these birds migrate from Russia and Scandanavia. This video, from Sophie Windsor Clive, captures millions of starlings as they're swirling about the River Shannon in Ireland.

Interview: Unity Dow on rethinking Africa, promoting gender equality - and fighting mosquitoes

Unity Dow wears many hats. She’s a lawyer, a retired judge (who happens to have been Botswana’s first female high court judge), a prolific author of four works of fiction and one non-fiction, and an advocate for the rights of women and girls. During her PopTech talk, which we’ll be posting shortly, she shared her perspective on a spectrum of topics connected to her pursuits including rethinking the future of Africa, reimagining the role of women and girls, and reclaiming one’s self and identity in the process. We caught up with her after she left the stage to follow up on some of the most salient points from her talk.

PopTech: During your PopTech presentation, you said that, “Africa’s star is on the rise,” because there’s a new generation saying, “I love myself for who I am. How can I move forward without being Western?” When you think about the Africa of the future, what do you see?
Unity Dow: I see prosperity, I see peace, I see democracy, I see the things that every young person, or every person, wants for themselves. People forget, there’s a whole new generation in Africa who do not have the burden of the colonial past. They didn’t live through it. But on the other hand they’ve been raised to be Western, I mean literally – young people in Africa would be proud not to like African music, would be proud not to like African food. It’s a statement of pride to say, “My child does not speak my language.” But now people are saying, are you crazy? What have you done to yourself? And they’re beginning to look at themselves and say, “You know what? I’m proud to be African. I’m beautiful as I am.”

A lot of your work has been fostering that sense of confidence – like your work on equality for women and issues like HIV/AIDS.
I’ve been involved with HIV and AIDS from the first time I heard the word in 1988. I co-founded the first AIDS-specific initiative in the country. So I’ve seen a lot of that, how women have been affected and infected over time, and I think the good news is that the devastation of the year 2000 is not there any more. Drugs are working. Of course there are issues about how to keep a whole nation on drugs. But then, everywhere in the world, people are on drugs for all kinds of reasons.

In terms of the space for women, gender equality, I have begun to see a difference. I know people introduce me as the first female judge in Botswana – but women should not be first at anything any more. That should be in the past. There are four women judges in Botswana now. The new generation is much more independent, much more assertive. They have the same problems as women anywhere in the world. So I see a change, but I know it’s not going to be overnight. The more women who are out there, the better, the quicker the change.


Watch the 2011 PopTech Fellows on stage: Videos now available!

Among the most exciting PopTech conference moments are when the Fellows each give a glimpse into their compelling work and how it might change the world. The Fellows’ 2011 presentations are now available online so you can revisit those you savored and catch up with others you might have missed.

This year, watch the 2011 Science and Public Leadership Fellows share their breakthrough work in areas including autism, robotics, infrasound, environmental bioremediation and more.

And learn about the ambitious initiatives of the 2011 Social Innovation Fellows ranging from local food networks to pay-as-you-go solar energy, and from keeping girls in school to building community through music and architecture.

Check out the Fellows’ big ideas and keep an eye out as their promising efforts continue to make great progress.

PopTech 2011 through your eyes

More than ever, technology allows us to easily share our experiences, and the photographic documentation of PopTech 2011 was no exception. We've taken a peek at Flickr, Twitter, Instagram and in our email boxes and we're excited to reveal the best of PopTech, through your eyes. 

Camden at dawn

Camden harbor at dawn by Maria Popova

Camden Opera House by Brent Danley

Camden Opera House by Brent Danley


Special ticket package through November 11: PopTech Reykjavik + PopTech Camden

Harpa Concert Hall & Conference Center
Reykjavik, Iceland, June 27-29, 2012

A one-of-a-kind global gathering of resilience thinkers, leaders and doers from around the world.

We live in a world fraught with shocks and disruptions—institutions break down, communities become imperiled and break apart, organizations peak only to subsequently crumble. What causes some systems to fail while others bounce back? How do we build more resilient organizations, communities and nations?

In June 2012, PopTech will bring together a global network of resilience researchers and practitioners from many fields—business, ecology, finance, design, technology and social innovation—to explore these vital questions. Visionary presentations will be punctuated with live performances, short films and the surprises only PopTech can give you, all happening in the stunning new Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Center.

Iceland is a country of ethereal beauty. In a single visit, you can see powerful geological forces at work, a clean-energy economy in action, and an internationally renowned creative culture. We have chosen to convene here not only for these reasons, but also because, following the global financial crisis of 2008, the country has become a laboratory for social resilience. As part of the gathering, we’re designing optional, eye-opening excursions so that you can experience all of this firsthand.

Seats for this global gathering are extremely limited and will sell out, so we invite you to register today and join us for what promises to be an extraordinary learning experience.

Request your registration to PopTech: Reykjavik today!
Registration is $3,000.

Special, limited-time offer!
PopTech Reykjavik + PopTech Camden
$5,000 ($500 discount)

PopTech 2011 blog recap: Part 2

We heard dozens of stage talks, saw incredible demos and performances, captured lots of video and wrote even more on our blog during PopTech 2011 - in addition to a constant flow on Twitter and Tumblr! And with the conference streaming live, too, we realize it may have been difficult to keep up with everything. That's why we thought we'd offer a two-part recap with highlights from what we covered on the blog as the conference was taking place, drawing your attention to some of our favorite pieces on the blog:

Image: Kris Krug for PopTech

If you missed it: PopTech 2011 interstitial videos

The World Rebalancing, by M ss ng P eces 

During the PopTech conference last week, we showed an interstitial video prior to each session to segue into a new group of talks. If you saw a video onstage or during the Livestream that you'd like to see again, we've compiled them here for your viewing pleasure!


PopTech 2011 blog recap: Part 1

We heard dozens of stage talks, saw incredible demos and performances, captured lots of video and wrote even more on our blog during PopTech 2011 - in addition to a constant flow on Twitter and Tumblr! And with the conference streaming live, too, we realize it may have been difficult to keep up with everything. That's why we thought we'd offer a two-part recap with highlights from what we covered on the blog this past week as the conference was taking place, drawing your attention to some of our favorite pieces on the blog:

  • Dava Newman showed us her new spacesuit design.
  • We interviewed Nobel Laureate Rajendra Pachauri about his climate change work with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
  • We heard the President of Iceland speak about his country's path to recovery on the PopTech stage and then had an opportunity to interview him in more detail.
  • We learned about a collaboration that was sparked at last year's conference between 2010 Science Fellow Sarah Fortune and Crowdflower founder Lukas Biewald to crowdsource tuberculosis research.
  • We hung out backstage with rapper/composer Blitz the Ambassador.
  • We introduced the Class of 2011 Science Fellows.
  • And we announced our first iPad app!

More to come...Stay tuned!

Image: Kris Krug for PopTech