Prelude to PopTech 2010: ‘Brilliant Accidents, Necessary Failures, Improbable Breakthroughs’

The PopTech 2010 conference–an annual gathering of “visionary thinkers, leaders and doers in science, technology, design, the corporate and social sectors, entrepreneurship, education and the arts”–kicks off this Wednesday in Camden, Maine.
By Ford Cochran
PopTech_logo.gifCurated by futurist and National Geographic Fellow Andrew Zolli, the event (much of which will be webcast live Thursday through Saturday) promises big ideas in packages as small as sound bites and as large as global social networks.

Themes speakers will explore at this year’s PopTech include:
The Power of Failure: In areas as widespread as education, business and government, what has to die so that the right things might live?
Innovation Mashups: What do radically different disciplines–and ways of thinking–have to teach each other?
The Psychogeography of Ideas: How does ‘cultural software’–from our media to the built environment – shape our thinking?
The Exponent Effect: Why do some ideas only work at a grand scale, and others only locally?
Complex Interventions: How do we decide where to intervene in a complex system? How do we intervene in multiple places simutaneously?
The Power of Simplicity: How do we get to what’s essential?
Strange Loops: How do we deal with feedback loops and unintended consequences created by our efforts?
Architectures of Choice: How can small changes to our ‘default’ options lead to breakthroughs?
The Heretic’s Path: Every visionary starts as a heretic. How do ideas–and their champions–move from the edge to the center?

PopTech also names Social Innovation and (new this year) Science and Public Leadership Fellows, provides them training in communications and public engagement, and brings them to the annual conference, where many present their ideas.

See the PopTech schedule and the full lineup of speakers.

Follow the Nat Geo News Watch blog here and on Facebook, and hashtag #poptech on Twitter, for updates from the event.

Ford-Cochran.jpgFord Cochran directs Mission Programs online for National Geographic. He has written for National Geographic magazine and NG Books, and edits BlogWild–a digest of Society exploration, research, and events–and the Ocean Now blog. Ford studied English literature at the College of William and Mary and biogeochemistry at Harvard and Yale, with a focus on volcanoes, forests, and long-term controls on atmospheric CO2. He was an assistant professor of geology and environmental science at the University of Kentucky before joining the National Geographic staff.

More posts by Ford Cochran

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