PopTech Blog

Posts by Kristen Taylor

Nicholas Felton's 2009 Annual Report Released

Nicholas Felton presented at PopTech 2009—video released in February—on “What We Are Saying,” produced with Ken Reisman and Rob Deeming. (You can see What We Are Saying online.)

Nicholas has just released his 2009 Annual Report:

The 2009 Feltron Annual Report

“Each day in 2009, I asked every person with whom I had a meaningful encounter to submit a record of this meeting through an online survey. These reports form the heart of the 2009 Annual Report. From parents to old friends, to people I met for the first time, to my dentist… any time I felt that someone had discerned enough of my personality and activities, they were given a card with a URL and unique number to record their experience.”

Two cards from the 2009 Annual Report are tacked onto a wall at the Brooklyn PopTech office, and we’re looking forward to our copy of the Report.

Two cards for the 2009 Annual Report live in the PopTech Brooklyn office.

You can order the letterpress version of the report too.

Find out more about Nicholas’s work and current interests on his blog, and check back in a few weeks when we’ll release the video of his talk.

Kris Krug Images of Streb RAW Flying Dancers in Vancouver

PopTech photographer and friend Kris Krug photographed Streb RAW, a group of dancers attempting to fly, this weekend.

The group is directed by ‘action specialist’ Elizabeth Streb, who spoke at PopTech 2007 on dancing in the sky. Below are Kris’s images from last Friday, and below that, Elizabeth’s talk at PopTech.

Find out the power of exploration, being lost, and staying in the present tense:

Congrats to the dancers performing in Vancouver; you can follow the Streb RAW tour here.

FLAP Bags to Haiti; Dr. Serena Koenig on Health Care in Haiti

Very soon, we will ask for your help as we send FLAP (Flexible Light And Power) portable light bags with a solar panel, an LED, and a USB charger to relief efforts in Haiti.

The FLAP bags are a prototype off-grid light solution (video below) that can be used in undeveloped areas and emergency situations:

If you are willing to help, please leave us a comment or send us an e-mail: hello [at] poptech [dot] org (Find out more about the bag in the FLAP FAQ and PopTech Hub FLAP group.)

At PopTech 2006, Director of Haiti programs for Partners in Health Dr. Serena Koenig told us why she believes equal lives deserve equal treatment. Her ideas for addressing global inequalities in health care are more relevant than ever.

Watch Serena Koenig at PopTech 2006 on Haiti and health care:

You can donate to PIH’s work in Haiti online.

For Haiti coverage, we continue to follow PopTech Social Innovation Fellows Erik Hersman and Ory Okolloh’s Ushahidi (crisis-mapping software) site: haiti.ushahidi.com

Ushahidi Hait

Expect more updates soon on the FLAP bags and how you can help.

Please leave us a comment if you have ideas for applications of the FLAP bag and ways to use them in Haiti or would like to be involved.

PopTech Fellow Emily Pilloton on Colbert Report

PopTech Social Innovation Fellow Emily Pilloton was on Colbert Report last night, talking about her work with Project H Design and her new book, Design Revolution: 100 Products That Empower People and demonstrating the Hippo Roller. Watch her great interview below (and here’s her PopTech talk):

VIDEO: Willie Smits and Katy Payne

This week, join us as we learn how to rebuild a rainforest (with a plant used as currency in Indonesia) with biologist and activist Willie Smits, and listen as animal researcher Katy Payne samples jungle sounds to decode the language of elephants. Ready?

Watch Willie Smits on saving rainforests:

Biologist Willie Smits has spent the last thirty years searching for ways to restore fragile ecosystems. From his home in Indonesia – a leading producer of greenhouse gases – Smits has discovered a method of sustainable energy production: using the forest to generate biofuels with a carbon-positive impact.


Go Deeper:

- Willie is Chief Science Officer of Tapergy; find out more about their reforestation efforts and the Sugar Palm.
- Willie and Borneo Orangutan Survival using Google Earth to drive reforestation participation. (Oct 29, 2009)
- Willie is also known for and committed to orangutan research through RedApes.org. (@redapes)

Watch Katy Payne on elephant songs

Animal communication researcher Katy Payne has been studying the sounds of African elephants and humpback whales for decades. Her research has led her to fascinating conclusions on how acoustic phenomena shape relationships and communities. In 1999, Payne founded the Elephant Listening Project to monitor elephants’ movements.

Go Deeper:

- Watch Katy Payne on CBS’s "60 Minutes."
- More on the "60 Minutes" shoot with Cornell researchers.
- Buy Katy’s book Silent Thunder on B Corp Better World Books.

Fried Peanut Butter and Banana Sandwiches and Awareness

This afternoon in New York City, free fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches were handed out to commemorate Elvis Presley’s 75th birthday, while The King’s greatest hits were sung by a group of impersonators with autism, the latest activity of the FREE (Free Family Residences and Essential Enterprises) Theatre Arts Program, a group that uses music and dance as therapy for individuals with mental challenges and developmental disabilities.

Besides a great excuse to wear bedazzled jumpsuits, Elvis is sometimes linked to autism causes through an autistic character who appeared in his final movie, “Change of Habit.” For original music about autism, you might turn to the album “Songs of the Spectrum” with songs sung by Jackson Browne, Dar Williams, and Mike Viola. 90% of the album profits go to autism groups.

peanut butter & banana sandwich

Here’s my recipe for fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches:

Roast 1 split banana at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, spread two slices of bread with your favorite peanut butter. Cut the roasted banana halves into two pieces each and place on one slice of bread. Squish the slices together.

Melt 1 tablespoon of butter (or fry a piece of bacon, if you like, then removing bacon and using grease in pan) in a skillet on medium-high. Fry sandwich on one side for 3 minutes, until crunchy and golden. Flip and fry another 3 minutes.

With this holiday’s successful “Rage Against the Machine for Christmas No.1” campaign, an effort to put the band’s 1992 song “Killing in the Name” at the top of the Christmas charts in the UK instead of the newest winner of the television show “X Factor” and raise money for Shelter (a national organization that work on issues of homelessness), we can expect to see more ways groups use music celebrity avenues to raise awareness and money for causes. You can donate to the campaign here; £94,183.00 was the tally as of this afternoon.

What are your favorite examples of recording artists’ celebrity or subversiveness being used for social good?

VIDEO: Luis von Ahn Harnesses Brainpower

As the latest tech products and applications launch at CES this week, we are releasing Luis von Ahn’s talk about the power of big groups and small increments of time to solve problems computers cannot. What other forms of social good are possible in this new decade as we turn more attention to microcontributions of time and energy?

Watch Luis von Ahn on harnessing brainpower.

Computer scientist Luis von Ahn’s programs harness the human brainpower to solve complex problems. von Ahn invented ReCaptcha, a program that uses squiggly characters that humans easily decipher but blocks spambots – and helps digitize millions of old texts. The CMU professor also makes games that use human knowledge to improve computers. Find them at gwap.com.

Go Deeper:

- Luis’s blog and personal site

- See more examples of transcription accuracy and reCAPTCHA resources

- ZDNet on new questions for reCAPTCHA (December 2009)

An Interview with Better World Books

While in Atlanta over the holidays, I asked Xavier Helgesen, Co-Founder of Better World Books, a few questions about what the social enterprise book company does—how they find used library books, why they are located in Atlanta (change.org blogger for Social Entrepreneurship Nathaniel Whittemore includes Atlanta in his recent post on burgeoning “regional innovation ecosystems”), and why Better World Books is a B Corp (find out more about B Corps in our December blog post):

Questions for Xavier? Tell us what you think in the comments—we are planning to highlight more B Corps in the coming months.

VIDEO and MP3s: Zee Avi, John Forté, and Zoë Keating

This week, new videos and the accompanying mp3s from Zee Avi, John Forté, and Zoë Keating, three of the talented musicians who graced the PopTech 2009 stage in October. Find out their upcoming tour dates and how to support their music with the links below.

If you are still seeking gift ideas, you might donate a goat (and hear a new track with Zoë!), contribute to the PopTech Social Innovation Fellows’ organizations, join the PopTech Impact Fund, and purchase books from 2009 PopTech speakers.

Watch Zee Avi perform at PopTech 2009

Shortly after posting self-styled videos on You Tube, singer songwriter Zee Avi woke up to 3,000 emails one morning. One offered her a recording contract with Brushfire Records. Since then, Avi left her home in Kuala Lumpur for Los Angeles. Avi performs melodic, melancholy songs tinged with irrepressible optimism.

Download mp3s: Honey Bee, Bitter Heart, Poppy, Just You and Me

Go Deeper:

- Zee’s personal site, zeeavi.com, and her MySpace page
- Zee’s upcoming tour dates
- Zee’s Twitter, @zeeavi

Watch John Forté perform at PopTech 2009

John Forté is an accomplished musician and producer who recently released StyleFREE the EP, his first album since serving seven years in federal prison. Forte’s career was interrupted by a 14-year sentence for a first-time non-violent drug offense; Former President Bush commuted his sentence in 2008.

Download mp3s: Face You World, Play My Cards For Me, Running Up That Hill, The Breaking of a Man

- John’s personal site, johnforte.com, and his MySpace page
- John’s upcoming tour dates
- John’s Twitter, @john_forte

Watch Zoë Keating perform at PopTech 2009

Cellist Zoë Keating uses a cello and a small box of electronics to create a one-woman avant-garde orchestra. A former member of the cello-rock trio Rasputina, Keating has played live on radio and television, in the Nevada desert, in medieval churches, punk clubs, and in venues across North America and Europe.

Download mp3s: 1 and 2

- Zoë’s personal site, zoekeating.com, and her MySpace page
- Zoë’s upcoming tour dates
- Zoë’s Twitter, @zoecello

More music in 2010!

New York Designers Propose Ideas for New York Transportation, Navigation, and Waterfront Development

Two weeks ago, GOOD and CEOs for Cities held a Manhattan event where Alissa Walker, a design writer, and Scott Stowell (of NY design agency Open) moderated six design teams proposing solutions to New York societal problems.

Below, excerpts from presenters Jake Barton (Local Projects) on the appeal of bicycling as alternative transportation, Brett Snyder (Cheng+Snyder) and Guy Zucker (Z-A Studio) on wayfinding in Times Square, and Colin Brice and Caleb Mulvena (MAPOS) on waterfront development in Sunset Park:

What do you think about these proposals?