PopTech 2014: A Decade of Documenting Rebel Lions

PopTech is a unique gathering of brainiacs, maniacs, rebels, spectacles, and indefinable superheroes. This year, the 18th annual conference was hosted by John Maeda, formerly of MIT and RISD, and truly a rebel in the zone of graphic design, computer science, art, education, and leadership. 

PopTech 18: Rebellion

 PHOTO by Michael Duarte

PHOTO by Michael Duarte

And, 2014 was Alphachimp's 10th year to capture ideas graphically.

Traditionally, Alphachimp's founder Peter Durand creates paintings and drawings for each speaker using acrylic, oil pastel, Sumi ink, brushes and charcoal.

For the 10-year anniversary, however, Durand went digital. He served as an electric scribe for each of the 20+ presenters and performers, working in real-time on a large Wacom Cintiq 22HD tablet (think of an iPad the size of a suitcase).

Peter describes his first PopTech experience:

When I was first invited to scribe in 2004, I was standing in Radio Shack, shopping for cutting edge mobile technology: a new Motorola Razor cellphone.

The guy on the phone was Andrew Zolli. I was busy and distracted, but the guy was so excited and convincing, so I said yes.

Before I arrived, I thought PopTech was going to be another typical business conference. I remember listening to the first few speakers and having the same reaction as any first-timer:

‘Whoa... this is waaaay more than I expected.’
Along with the excitement of traveling with PopTech to events in Kenya and Iceland, my greatest pleasure has been to be involved with the Fellows Programs, working with social entrepreneurs and scientists right at the tipping point of their careers.
Every year, to my great relief, I have been shocked and honored to be invited back to witness brilliant people bring ground-breaking ideas to life.
  View a 10-year visual catalog of PopTech Speaker Art  by Alphachimp on   Flickr  .

View a 10-year visual catalog of PopTech Speaker Art by Alphachimp on Flickr.

PopTech & The City Resilient

PopTech & The City Resilient

We live in a time of increasing volatility.

Hundreds of participants gathered at the Brooklyn Academy of Music's Harvey Theater on June 24, 2013 for PopTech's 'The City Resilient,' a day-long exploration of the diffuse and increasing threats to cities and communities around the world.

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Toward Resilience: PopTech in Iceland

PopTech Iceland 2012

| resilience defined | conference recap | alphachimp artwork | photos |

In a world fraught with disruptions, what causes some systems, organizations, communities and people to break down and others to bounce back? For those that rebound, what do they tell us about how to build a secure future, and sturdier selves to inhabit it?

The Harpa Concert Hall & Conference Centre in Reykjavik, site of PopTech

To explore these pressing questions, in June 2012 PopTech convened its first international conference outside its homebase in Camden, Maine. Over 200 researchers, practitioners and thought leaders—working in fields such as international development, global business, climate adaptation, social psychology, economics, systems ecology, public health, emerging technology, disaster relief and community activism—gathered in the world-reknowned Harpa concert hall in Reykjavik for a dialogue about the emerging field of "resilience". 

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PopTech Climate Resilience Lab

PopTech at Karen Country Lodge (interior)

Last week, PopTech brought together an amazing and diverse group of thinkers, stakeholders, and domain experts in Nairobi, Kenya for a Climate Resilience Lab.  The three-day event was PopTech's first major convening around the issue of building resilience to climate change effects at the community level with a particular focus on identifying the roles of and opportunities for girls and women.

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2011 PopTech Social Innovation Fellows

My favorite time of year... at my favorite event of the year... with my favorite group of young entrepreneurs: The PopTech Social Innovation Fellows.

This program helps equip these world-changing innovators with the tools, insights, visibility and social network that can help them scale their impacts to new heights. They are exposed to leading experts in communication, presentation design, design research, fundraising, operations and organizational design.

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Better Living through Cell Biology

Research/Narration by Amro Hamdoun
Images by Perrin Ireland


There are many persistent industrial chemicals that accumulate in marine life and in our bodies. For many years we have had problems predicting which industrial chemicals will be persistent in the environment.

Artist Perrin Ireland worked with Amro Hamdoun to explain how current research in cell biology might be used to to prevent this problem from happening in the future. Click the link below to watch Perrin’s beautiful watercolor art unfold.
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Insights from the Science and Public Leadership Fellows Program

At the PopTech Science and Public Leadership Fellows retreat at National Geographic headquarters earlier this month, the program’s faculty provided key insights to help equip the 2011 Fellows with enhanced leadership, collaboration and communication skills.

2011 PopTech Science and Public Leadership Fellows

Member of this group are high-potential early- and mid-career scientists working in areas of critical importance to the nation and the planet. They represent a corps of highly visible and socially engaged scientific leaders who embody science as an essential way of thinking, discovering, understanding and deciding.

Jeff Nesbit, Dennis Dimick and Lisa Witter on storytelling

For a taste of their ideas, have a look at...
  1. Graphic Record produced by Alphachimp: http://bit.ly/PopTechSciFellows11scribe
  2. The Full Story on the PopTech blog: http://bit.ly/PopTechSciFellows11
  3. Video of 2010 Science Fellows at: http://poptech.org/sciencefellows/