PopTech Blog

Good things come to those who plan ahead

Direct your Cyber Monday attention this way! Planning to join us at PopTech: Hybrid? There are less than 30 $1,500 passes left! Sign up today to save 25%

Join us and our host John Maeda next Oct 22-24, 2015 to explore the power and possibility found in a hybrid. Hear from Eric Liu (Citizen University), Jennifer McCrea (Harvard), Eddie Opara (Pentagram), Sputniko! (MIT Media Lab), Melissa Hoffman (Rockwell Group), and others. See you then. 

Get to know your rebels (more) for a chance to win some cool gifts!

In the months leading up to PopTech: Rebellion, we asked some of our speakers a few burning questionsWhile PopTech: Rebellion has come and gone, we're still getting to know these amazing rebels who took the stage in Camden. You can join us by watching PopTech: Rebellion talks and panels on-demand. This week, you might just win some cool gifts for doing so! Tweet your favorite quote from a PopTech: Rebellion talk or panel using #KnowYourRebels by Thursday, Nov 20, 12:00pm EST. We'll choose a lucky winner at random to receive a PopTech: Rebellion bag filled with handy and tasty treats. The winner will be DMed for a mailing address.    

PopTech: Rebellion participants took home new ideas, connections, and often an appreciation for our lovely state of Maine. We also packed in a few mementos for them to remember us by. By getting to know your rebels even more, you might just win one of these bags for yourself! Contents include: PopTech tote bag by eBay IncHiya green tea; TCHO chocolate; Muji notebook & pen; One month of free Skillshare membership; Quirky Bandits & Carabandits; Green tea Kit-Kats & Morisawa custom Tattlys; “The Red Papers” by Tham Khai Meng.

P.S If you don’t win the PopTech bag above, you can still get something fun from our friends at Modern Industry. They’re offering 20% any purchase using code poptechrebel. Nice!

Video credit: Emily Qualey

PopTech: Rebellion talks & performances available on poptech.org!

They're here! PopTech: Rebellion may be over, but you can now re-watch your favorite moments again and again in HD. Today we’re releasing each stage talk and performance from PopTech: Rebellion, hosted by John Maeda.

Find out what had Twitter buzzing during talks from Paola Antonelli, Anil Dash and Helen Fisher. Listen to heartfelt wisdom delivered by Parker Palmer, Courtney Martin and Krista Tippett. Don’t miss the ultimate rebel tale from Andrew Cotton (think: riding six-story high waves). Hear Hiroshi Ishii talk about making atoms dance. There are so many PopTech moments to be (re)discovered. Happy watching.

(If you like what you see, join us next Oct 22-24 at PopTech 2015: Hybrid. A limited amount of $1,500 passes are still available – hurry!)

David Burstein Combines Politics and Moneyball

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 joined us in Camden at the Rebellion and over the coming weeks, you'll see some of their amazing reporting cross-posted on the PopTech blog. Enjoy! (Be sure to check out their interview with Rebellion host John Maeda and piece on Rebellion speaker Joi ito.)

Read the original post on “Innovation Hub” here.

David Burstein has a simple dream. Fix American politics.

And, yes, he knows it's going to be tough. But rehabbing our sclerotic political system may be as simple as pressing rewind.

"In 1787," Burstein told PopTech 2014, "our founders came together, and they recruited the best and brightest minds they could possibly find to come together for a Constitutional Convention to figure out how to create a new system of governance, a new country that had never been seen before."

Burstein, the author of Fast Future, has written extensively about value shifts amongst his millennial cohort. And he believes young people need to shake up the political status quo.

How? Well, you start by making government a little more like Moneyball. 

Burstein created Run for America, an organization devoted to recruiting new, talented candidates for office and using statistics to figure out which districts they can actually win in. That involves zeroing in on inexpensive media markets and districts with high numbers of young people. The new candidates will — according to Run for America — be on the ballot in 2016.

Ignoring political gridlock, Burstein says, is already having striking consequences. "In this election… there are actually three people who are convicted criminals who are running for election after coming out of jail. And all of them look like they're going to win. So in a system where our approval of the people in our institutions is so low, and we think they're corrupt and a bunch of crooks, it actually becomes a lot easier for someone who's actually a crook to get elected."

Listen to David Burstein talk about how millennials are different from the generations before them:

Joi Ito Says Kids Are Losing Creativity

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're with us in Camden reporting from the Rebellion. Over the coming weeks, you'll see some of their amazing content cross-posted on the PopTech blog. Enjoy! (Be sure to check out their interview with Rebellion host John Maeda.)

Read the original post on "Innovation Hub" here.

Joi Ito prides himself on being a rebel. But he worries that Americans - students, in particular - may be losing their love of rebelliousness.

"The way I explain it is, you don't get a Nobel Prize for doing what you're told. You get a Nobel Prize for questioning authority and thinking for yourself."

At PopTech 2014, Ito, the director of MIT's Media Lab, said that our educational system values conformity, lectures, and deference to power. But a little adversity may not be such a bad thing.

It's like the immune system, he argues. "The more it gets attacked - as long as you don't die - the stronger it gets and the smarter it gets… If you a take a kid and you raise the kid in a clean room with no bacteria, the kid will be so fragile that the minute they walk out of that clean room, they'll probably die."

Could American culture - which famously celebrates the cowboy, the pioneer, the easy rider - be ditching its loner ethos? 

Ito says that's exactly what's happening - and science may support his theory. At MIT, Ito's colleagues measured a student's brain activity for an entire week and found that attending class tended to result in even less activity than sleep.

"We need creative learning," Ito says. "The creativity is the thing that the computers can't do. All the repetitive physical and mental jobs will be taken over by computers."

Listen to our interview with Ito about creativity - and find out whether he thinks whether others should follow his example and drop out of college.

Introducing PopTech 2015: Hybrid!

PopTech: Rebellion is in full swing. (Tune in to watch live via Fora.TV .) Yesterday on stage we shared our plans for next year. We’re thrilled to reveal: PopTech 2015: Hybrid!

Do both. Revolutionary breakthroughs occur at points of integration — art and science, design and technology, form and function, local and global.

It's about the combination of creativity and innovation to create new models for change. At PopTech 2015, we will call together those who defy easy categorization and rejoice in the power that emerges from a hybrid.

We’re excited to announce that our Rebellion host John Maeda is coming back for round two at PopTech: Hybrid. Speakers joining him include Eric Liu (Citizen University), Jennifer McCrea (Harvard), Eddie Opara (Pentagram), Sputniko! (MIT Media Lab), and Melissa Hoffman (Rockwell Group). Find out who else will be there.

Register today to save up to $500 on your conference pass then mark your calendar for Oct 22-24, 2015. We hope to see you there! 

Record an Audio Selfie with "On Being" at PopTech!

We see selfies every day on Instagram and Facebook, on Twitter and Snapchat. But how often do you take an audio selfie? Here's your chance! Extend your voice (not your arm) and be part of the "On Being" Your Audio Selfie project. Record your stories of courage and fearlessness to share with the PopTech community while you're in Camden.

When: The producers of "On Being" will be in the PopTech press room tomorrow, Thursday, Oct 23, from 11:00am-12:30pm and 4:00pm-6:00pm. No sign up needed - just head on over. 

Where: PopTech press room (15 Elm Street, Second Floor). 

How to get there: Turn left outside of the main entrance of the Camden Opera House, walk past Washington Street, and the space is located a few doors down from the PopTech office. A sign on the door will indicate that you're in the right spot. See you then!

PopTech Take Five

I’ve had the pleasure and honor of being a member of the PopTech family for five years now. So when Leetha called me to relay the news about PopTech’s Time Out, well, I was deeply impressed. In fact, “Oh wow” were my exact words. Why? Simply this: how many organizations out there really take the time to stop, think and reflect? How many actually have the guts — nay, the nerve — to press “pause” in our hyper-changing, tech-driven maddening world where any form of slowing down runs the risk of being branded as a sign of slacking?

PopTech’s bold decision to Take Five is for me a perfect example of what makes this community so positively different from other high-profile technology conferences. Quality, humility and meaning take poll position in Camden, not quantity, delusions of grandeur or superficiality. The PopTech team could just as well have continued business as usual. It’s easy to wing something when you’ve been doing it over and over for years. It’s all too easy to become complacent, to talk the talk, walk the walk. But PopTech is choosing to walk a different, more challenging path. The team has decided to talk about their Fellow’s program and to ask themselves some difficult questions; questions that will require care, calm, time and unhurried reflection.

This decision to genuinely slow down should serve as a reminder to all of us over-achievers. When was the last time you heard a colleague say she or he wasn’t busy, that they have a wonderfully balanced life; that they regularly slow down and reflect? Exactly. Try it next time you’re at work or out with colleagues. Simply ask: “Hey, how are things? Been busy?” I’ve deliberately posed this question dozens and dozens of times across multiple continents over the past few months (as a personal experiment of sorts). And I have yet to hear this answer: “Nope, not busy but happy. I have plenty of free time during the work-day, so I’ve been leaving the office early to stroll through the park, just cause.” 

I keep coming back to PopTech every year because it is my chance to leave work behind; to slowly “stroll through the park” of ideas and reflection, “just cause.” There’s something about PopTech that makes the week feel like a peaceful retreat; a temporal refuge from hyper-speed; an opportunity to slow down, to be present; mindful, connected — not with our gadgets — but with ourselves, here, now, in the moment. So PopTech’s decision to take a slow stroll off their beaten path makes a whole lot of good sense for both innovative organizations and individuals. Let this year’s PopTech be a state of mind. Each of us can take this time to reflect on our own lives and reconnect with our own selves. If not now, when? Time to Take Five, all.

I, for one, won’t be busy this week. You won’t find me hunched over my laptop live-blogging, or catching up on work emails, or fidgeting with my smartphone as I dial into conference calls or retweeting as fast as I can. Heck, I may even leave one of the talks early for a lazy stroll along Camden’s gentle shore, just cause. Rebellious? I hope so. Rebellion is this year’s theme, after all.

Know your rebels: Meet Dan Barasch

With PopTech: Rebellion just around the corner, we decided to ask our speakers a few burning questions. PopTech: Rebellion is sold out, but be sure to tune in via Fora.TV to watch it in real-time Oct 23-25. 

Speaker: Dan Barasch, Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Lowline —an effort to build the world's first underground park.

What's one thing you want the PopTech audience to know about you that's not in your bio?
I have a terrible but very fun habit of dragging found objects (ie trash) home with me, and doing strange things with them- spray painting them, turning them into odd objects, or using as questionable furniture.

What does being a rebel mean to you?
It means looking at the world around you, realizing someone or something sucks, and then figuring out a way to make things better-- especially when it pisses others off.

What are you reading?
Another Country” (James Baldwin), “Buddha's Brain” (Rick Hanson), “The World According to Garp” (John Irving).

What are you listening to?
Cool answer: Tom Waits.  Less cool answer: "Chandelier," by Sia, roughly a million times a day.

What are you working on at the moment?
Navigating a number of New York City agencies and NY City Hall in pushing the Lowline forward.

Who are you most looking forward to hearing speak at PopTech?
Paola Antonelli.

Word association: Maine... 
Fall foliage/ resilience.

My rebellion soundtrack would be: 
Le Tigre, Morrissey, Bikini Kill.

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

Best piece of advice you've ever received:
No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.

Karaoke? Yes, no, curious. Go-to song?
Sad karaoke: “There is a light that never goes out” (Smiths).  Fun karaoke: “Red Red Wine” (UB40). Messy karaoke: “We're not gonna take it” (Pointer Sisters).

Know your rebels: Meet Sarah Lewis

With PopTech: Rebellion just around the corner, we decided to ask our speakers a few burning questions. PopTech: Rebellion is sold out, but be sure to tune in via Fora.TV to watch it in real-time Oct 23-25. 

Speaker: Sarah Lewis, author of “The Rise: Creativity, the Gift of Failure, and the Search for Mastery,” curator, and art historian; Served on President Barack Obama’s Arts Policy Committee 

What does being a rebel mean to you?
This phrase, to be a rebel without a cause is meant to suggest freedom and nonconformity. I’m more interested in the cause that makes you want to rebel. What comes when we ask ourselves, what’s worth fighting for?
What are you reading?
I’m constantly going back to John Jeremiah Sullivan’s “Pulphead” and poetry from Tracy K. Smith’s “Life on Mars” for inspiration.
What are you listening to?
I’m back to the classic A Love Supreme by John Coltrane and Shirley Horn’s Here’s to Life. Always stunning. I have Somi on repeat now, too. When I go running, I listen to whatever Serena Williams has put on her workout sampler that I just downloaded.
What are you working on at the moment?
The struggle to recognize the dignity and humanity of all human beings cannot be waged without images. I’m finishing my book about this topic, specifically about Frederick Douglass’s long understudied speech about this topic, for Harvard University Press.
Word association: Maine...
Beauty. Peace. I spent one of the most blissful restorative weeks of my life in Bar Harbor when I was writing The Rise. I cannot wait to return.