Pop!Tech. I had heard about this phenomenon in years past, had seen the cadre of smartphone-wielding hipsters dressed in black, had taken note of their glorious and fashionable shoes.
This is an annual conference that brings together great modern innovators, thinkers, and do-ers across various disciplines for three days of intense, mindblowing presentations.
Experts on marriage/family, neuroscientists, technology designed to reignite passion for nature through citizen science, education innovators, citizen activism to bring peace to inner cities, people who sail across the Pacific on a boat made of plastic bottles, using sewage to create bioplastic, and so much more.
The really crazy thing is that this event draws people from all over the world to the tiny little enclave of Camden, Maine, right in my own backyard. (read more here.)
This event is wildly out of my price-range but it's something that I am interested in because of my work with technology and libraries and teaching/learning. So I decided to volunteer my time this year and it was lots of hard work (10 hour days!) but also immensely rewarding.
My volunteer work began with a five hours or so of helping the creators of a Rube Goldberg machine with their elaborate set up. (Filling 500 balloons with a small LED light can actually give you blisters.) Watching their process of failure, tweaking, failure, tweaking, and sometimes success, was fascinating.
built by a high school team
does this sign refer to our personal digital devices,
the ones in such abundance at Pop!Tech?
And only a few days later, when I saw my children again, I saw this same spirit reflected in their elaborate and creative set-up of blocks, marbles, trucks, and ramps...trial and error enacted in a matchbox car jump set-up.
An onsite artist was there to document the presentations while they progressed:
And as you can see, the theme of the 2010 conference was "Brilliant Accidents, Necessary Failures, and Improbably Breakthroughs." I love that line, above: Fail Faster Now!
So my days were very full and my brain was more full. The volunteer cadre was a great team to be on and it was a very dynamic atmosphere. So many ideas! So many people! Great people-watching! It was so easy to engage with people, and fun to be outgoing and welcoming with these interesting visitors to our town.
I think I'm hooked.