PopTech Blog

This week in PopTech: Cancer's biography, Possibilianism and sustainable farming


Jason Aramburu of re:char and Salim Mayeki Shaban of ACON
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.

  • And in more press news, CEO and co-founder of Medic Mobile, Josh Nesbit (2009 Social Innovation Fellow) and his crowdsourcing work in Haiti have just been featured in Fast Company.

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: re:char

Ecomaterials Lab: A laptop made from paper?


PEGA D&E's Material for the Future

Happy Earth Day! In honor of the occasion, we'd like to take this opportunity to showcase a unique bit of Earth-friendly ecomaterials engineering courtesy of the folks at PEGA D&E.

They have developed the Paper PP Alloy, a new alloy made from paper and polypropylene designed to replace plastics in consumer electronics. The alloy is able to be injection-molded just like traditional thermoplastics (without having to change the manufacturing process) and has comparable durability. However, unlike traditional thermoplastics, the Paper PP Alloy is comparatively inexpensive, biodegradable, recyclable and reusable.

This revolutionary achievement is just the latest from PEGA, which in the past has designed laptop components from bamboo, cellulose acetate, and polylactic acid (PLA).

Photos: PEGA D&E

Image-wise: Aghanashini River, India

Shot the morning after a flood, the Aghanashini River in Kumta turns red from soil-spiked runoff.

via National Geographic

Image: Dinesh Hegde, My Shot

Earth Day Flashback: Nicole Kuepper on low-cost solar energy

PopTech 2009 presenter Nicole Kuepper is really excited about low-cost solar energy solutions and bringing those solutions to the developing world. "The reason I'm so excited about solar technology is because of its immense potential to solve two major problems I'm passionate about, the first being climate change...and the second is global poverty." Her invention, the iJET, is an affordable  method to print solar cells that may make solar energy more accessible throughout the world.

Spend Earth Day with David de Rothschild

Looking for something to do this Earth Day?  Here are a couple of ideas, both of which involve 2010 PopTech presenter David de Rothschild and his Plastiki.

If you’re in New York City, De Rothschild will be signing copies of his book, Plastiki: Across the Pacific on Plastic, An Adventure to Save Our Oceans, at Paragon Sports on Friday, April 22 from 4-5:30 pm.

Not in New York? Then why not check out his PopTech talk instead? In it, De Rothschild recounts the Plastiki’s evolution: from his realization about the massively destructive nature of plastic in our oceans to the research and development that went into creating a plastic bottle-constructed boat. He shares a video about his team’s sailing adventure through the Pacific Ocean and their accompanying campaign to raise awareness about the effects of this environmental devastation.

And if you want to learn what other green experts are doing to commemorate Earth Day this Friday, Treehugger has compiled a list, which, in addition to De Rothschild, includes Grist president Chip Giller, photograher Chris Jordan, and ocean activist Roz Savage.

Slow-mo skydiving

This enthralling video, made by the Melbourne Skydive Centre, makes jumping out of an airplane look hypnotically tranquil (as opposed to the harrowing experience most of us probably imagine).

via Gizmodo

Radiolab presents Symmetry

Have a look at this video from our friends at Radiolab:

A new Radiolab video made in collaboration with Everynone, and inspired by our Desperately Seeking Symmetry episode. Filmmakers Will Hoffman, Daniel Mercadante, and Julius Metoyer III play with our yearning for balance, and reveal how beautiful imperfect matches can be.

6 questions with...Jonathan Harris


PopTech’s series, 6 questions with… gives us a chance to get into the heads of social innovators, technologists, artists, designers, and scientists to see what makes them tick.

Artist, computer scientist and Internet anthropologist, Jonathan Harris (PopTech 2007) explores the intersection between human emotion, technology, and storytelling. He's known for insightful and inventive projects including We Feel Fine and Universe among many others. Last week Harris released a striking new video about one of his most recent projects, Today, a follow-up to a year-long project in which he posted one photo online each day for a year. In describing that highly personal project, he says, “I wanted to find a way to be more in the moment, to be more in every day. To understand time more. To understand my own life more. To have more memories. Basically, to live more richly as a human life, not just as a work life.”  To learn more about his current mindset and approach, we checked in with Harris.

If I'd been a fly on the wall of your office/studio, what would I have seen you doing yesterday?
Up until last week, I was living and working in an old church, built in 1903 by Norwegian missionaries, in a small Icelandic fishing village, way up north.  I've been there for most of the last year, hiding away from the world to finish up a big new project, which I'll be releasing later this spring. Today, I'm sitting at a friend's kitchen table in Brooklyn.  I'm not sure what the next step will be for me, geographically.  I'm just taking one day at a time, looking for signs, and waiting to see where they point.

Read more...

Staff picks: What PopTech is reading now

Here at PopTech, we've always got our collective noses stuck in a magazine, online or print. What follows is a compilation of articles that have left the greatest impression on the PopTech team in the past few weeks. 

  • On Chernobyl by Keith Gessen and Svetlana Alexievich, N+1 (Andy Dayton, Web Designer)
  • Impact Market Failure by Kevin Starr, Stanford Social Innovation Review (Ollie Wilder, Program Manager, PopTech Accelerator)
  • Farther Away by Jonathan Franzen, The New Yorker (Assistant, Sarah Graalman)
  • Voices from Chernobyl by Svetlana Alexievich, The Paris Review (Keryn Gottshalk, Participant Facilitator)
  • Social Animal by David Brooks, The New Yorker (Emily Qualey, Online Producer)

Stay tuned: more Staff picks coming soon!

Image: blinkofaneye via N+1

Collaboration alert: Yo-Yo Ma and Lil Buck (presented by Spike Jonze)

Here's an entertaining collaboration for your viewing pleasure - cellist Yo-Yo Ma and dancer Lil Buck caught on tape by Spike Jonze. Jonze explains:

The other day, I was lucky enough to be at an event to bring the arts back into schools and got to see an amazing collaboration between Yo-Yo Ma and a young dancer in LA, Lil Buck. Someone who knows Yo-Yo Ma had seen Lil Buck on YouTube and put them together. The dancing is Lil Buck's own creation and unlike anything I've seen. Hope you enjoy.