I’ve returned from the mind-numbing inspiring PopTech Conference still a bit jittery from the collective curious minds at this year’s awesome gathering. This year’s theme “The Human Impact” was way more than I expected covering everything from politics, waste, medicine, minds, communities, art, science, music, and everything else in between. The speakers filled the opera house with passion, greatness, huge questions, and ideas that sparked the hundreds attending and thousands watching online.
PopTech also launched a new extension to their conference called the “Pop!Tech Accelerator” facilitating world changing projects starting off with “Masiluleke“which is a groundbreaking software tool for HIV/AIDS patients throughout Africa. The idea of â€œAcceleratorâ€ is to leverage the community of PopTech attendees with their network to create world changing projects.
As usual, I’ll point my fingers to ninja blogger Ethan Zukerman who sat in the dungeon simulcast room next to me zipping his feisty fingers onto his furious laptop for the complete detailed recap, but I’™ll post more on my experience, a bit on the speakers, lots of pictures, and my journey up to beautiful Camden Maine. I’m not sure when all the footage will be archived and available for viewing, but they’ll eventually appear on their PopCasts Streams which I’d suggest catching up to.
My recap after the jump, otherwise, Poptech 2008, a definite must go to!
Day 1, Camden, Maine.
As I did last year, I drove up with my buddy Doug from Boston, witnessing the ever changing fall foliage and gleaming in jealousy over the amazing colors cascading the roads up to Camden.
We also stopped by a harbor port with an amazing view for our yearly lobster roll PopTech initiation treats, yum!!!($15 a roll¦ 6 bites, it better be good!)
Camden Maine is a breathtaking getaway for anyone living the chaotic, information loaded, city-like conditions most attendees come from. Everything from kayaking, hiking, fishing, camping, whale watching, biking, golfing, or even walking down the calm shopping streets packed full of enthusiastic shop owners is an experience in it’s own. I actually brought my laptop, but never had a WiFi signal, so my disconnected week in Maine was stressfully stress less =). I’ll admit it was a bit odd to find people parked in front of the coffee shop after midnight punching away on their bright laptops. I said they were “geeking”, but hell, I’ve done this myself in other situations. If you come to PopTech, try to come a day early or stay a few extra days as the conference uses your days fully.
The leaves up here are awesome, shining colors of all sorts as bright as the sky above.
The first nights reception takes place at the Waterfront restaurant; where PopTech serve up all sorts of tasty treats while attendees fill up with wine and spirits and newbies mingle. It gets crowded, but it’s a great space to get to know one another and rub elbows with upcoming speakers. I came here the next night for a meal with past PopTech friends who all happen to be designers! What an awesome crew!
After the Waterfront, everyone leaps over to the nearby bar Gilberts which is filled with pool tables, darts boards, video games, and my all time favorite ping pong table! Last year I duked it off with game guru Will Wright and funny man Ze Frank, this year I got to play doubles with media moguls Jonathan Harris, John Maeda, and Jakob Trollback.. all of them were solid with their paddles!
The conference started out the very next morning. I’m in the dungeon room down below the stage, where most of the bloggers are with laptops out, food at a hands reach, fighting for wall plugs, and mingling like no one can upstairs though very focused on the good speakers.
I’m not going to dive into alllll the speakers in detail here, but I’ll mention a few. Otherwise, go to Ethans Blog Recap for full the details. Lots of the conference stage pictures by Kris Krug from the PopTech Flickr pool.
Chris Jordan– photographer
Chris visually depicts our society’s ugly addiction to consumerism through images of landfills piled high in everyday objects. Do you know what 130 million discarded phones is?…not really right. He breaks it down to days, 426,000 phones and creates a mosaic. 426,000 phones laid side to side. It really hits you how much waste there is now! He hopes his images will inspire change. A few other facts:
– 15 million sheets of paper used every 5 minutes. Scaled to a days worth, he had to compare it to the Seattle space needle, which took up a small portion in a corner of a days worth of paper used each day.
– 60,000 paper bags used every 5 seconds.
– 2 million plastics bottles consumed every 5 minutes.
– 130,000 aluminum cans used every 30 seconds.
– 1.14 million paper bags consumed in the US every hour.
I had dinner with Chris a few days later. He took a huge risk. He was actually a lawyer for 10 years before taking on his passion in photography. He had $60,000 to spend in 2 years. That ran out, and then he took out his 401k (30k), and that ran out. Then he took his girlfriends 401k, and luckily before that ran out, an online gallery found him and he was off to conferences such as PopTech. I actually saw him speak at TED2007 an GEL 2007, but speaking to him in details was an absolute pleasure.
Jessica Flannery: Micro Funding
Co- Founder of Kiva.org
A must do, visit, and donate! Kiva is an awesome Program I’ve mentioned before.
Andrew Zolli points out that â€œfor every dollar of US foreign aid, 14% makes it to its intended recipient.
A Whole New Mind:
Steven Pinker, Louanne Brizendine, Daniel Pink (in his terms, this group was pink, Pinker, Pinkest)
– Steven Pinker talks about indirect speech in understanding human behavior.
If you could pass the guacamole, that would be awesome.
– Louanne Brizendine, a Neurobiologist, explains the difference between a male and female brain. Did ya know everyone starts out with a female brain. “The fundamental point – there’s no such thing as a unisex brain, and we need to understand it to understand how humans actually work.”
– Daniel Pink: Business Writer
Analyzes the left and right brains and talks about the 21st century. “Abundance, Asia, and Automation.” The evolution of human economies, he tells us, moves from farmers to factory workers to the information ageâ€¦ and now to the conceptual age. It’s the big ideas that make money, and we’ve got to find ourselves new, conceptual jobs in a new economy. (Buhyahhhh!)
This session rocked!!!!
Some music by Zoe Keating. Very cool. I spoke with her at Gilberts. She actually tours with Imogen Heapâ€¦ makes tons of sense. She rocks! She was actually deaf her first 5 years before getting surgery.(at least this is what I was told)
Garage Inventor, toy designer, Tinkerer.
Creator of Furby, and now the upcoming Pleo (making of video)life like dinosaur with 37 sensors, 14 motors, and 7 microcontrollers. Caleb goes through his design process, design failures, and all kinds of funny things. He’s a firecracker of enthusiasm and laughter. Caleb would be amazing to work with.
Information visualization storyteller on emotion. He shows us his sketchbooks, how he works, and dives into his current projects which documents his adventure in Alaska where it’s -22 and his host family takes him to a rather gruesome whale slaughtering. He takes 3214 pictures and documents them through several axes allowing users to examine images by color, which can relate the color red in his bedroom to the whale’s blood. Jonathan is known for his project “We Feel Fine” which he presented at TED this past yr. He briefly went over it again.
He has some really interesting interface interaction ideas.
(Stumbling Happiness book and Professor of psychology at Harvard)
He talks about Global Warming and why we as humans do not see or perceive the immediate need to address global warming.
Slowing down. Heâ€™s not saying we have to slow down everything, but we should be able to shift gears when needed.
The Nigerian Space Program. The title says it all. Fun personality.
Nina Joblonski– Talks about our skin, the sense of touch, and how touch has evolved over the past 40 million years. She urges us to hug. Great lecture!
Elizabeth Streb– Choreographer.
She makes flying easy, but prefers to crash. Very engaging presentation.
Dialog about Islam
John Esposito– Islam hasnâ€™t changed; what has changed is that it has become visible in the west.
Daoud Kuttab– In the Arab world, you can say anything you want about the Arab world, just not about your own country.
Sarah Joseph– I’ve spent half my life as a non-Muslim, half my life as a Muslim: I’m part of the “we” for both halves; things done in the name of democracy“ not in my name; things done in the name of Islam“ not in my name.
Mustafa Ceric– let us fight for the Holy Peace, not the Holy War
Vanessa German– Powerful, passionate, poetry. She gives a standing ovation performance.
Zainab Salbi– Women for women International
“15 years ago, I came to US. When I told people I came from Iraq and they stepped back from me. Now they say, ˜I’m sorry.”
Poptech 2008 is done! Applause! This years speakers were awesome! Not too much glimmer, but all the stuff that counts.
Party time at the Aviation Museum!
PopTech is over. The crew takes their last moments this year sitting front row in the opera house.
A walk on the pier where we all went sailing after last years tripâ€¦ not this year though. Too many of us are driving long distance and exhausted.
Woohooo, jump jump.. Group Jumping at it’s best!
Someoneâ€™s pimping it in Camden.
Having a bit of fun with the fall trees.
My yearly stop for sushi and walk around Portland!
This years PopTech Giftbag!