Francisco Noguera

Pop!Tech 2009: Embracing Creative Possibility and the Amateur Spirit

The first session of Pop!Tech is through now and I can’t say enough about the energy that filled the room. Before I move on I’d encourage you to join the conversation live on, follow @nextbillion on Twitter and look out for the hashtag #poptech on Twitter.

Each Session at Pop!Tech is comprised of 3 – 4 speakers who deliver their presentations in ca. 20 minutes, joined in the end by one of the 2009 Pop!Tech Social Innovation Fellows. I had a chance to meet and talk to some of them last night and they’re a group of fun and inspiring folks to say the least… stay tuned for more on those conversations and the interviews I’m hoping to jot down with them.

Emily Pilloton, the founder of Project H Design went first among the fellows, describing the way her project is aiming to connect the potential of design thinking with the places and communities that lack access to it. I’ll be looking for an opportunity to sit down with Emily later today and share with you some of what’s next for Project H in the words of its founder itself.

Before Emily, Kurt Andersen and Dan Ariely took the stage, and before them curator Andrew Zolli who invited all participants to approach Pop!Tech with a motivation for creative possibility. Opening a conference titled is America Reimagined, Andersen and Ariely brought up fascinating points related to the question of what drives individuals to do what they do the way they do it. Andersen argued for rescuing the “amateur spirit”, which drives us to do things without fear of breaking rules and without remuneration being the essential driving force. Ariely reinforced this point walking us through really fascinating research that showed how “work” and “social work” or things we intrinsically care about, have been in direct opposite ends and how this generation seems to be tearing those walls down.

Behavioral economics is not a topic we often report about in NextBillion. However, as I listened to these speakers I found myself thinking that the attitudes they described are the ones shared by the community interested in social enterprise and business at the base of the pyramid. If you’re reading this blog, you’re probably involved or looking for ways to get involved with a venture that erases the line between your working hours , your values and the issues you care most deeply about.

I’m off to Session 2. I’ll probably wait until tonight to publish the next post with a detailed profile of one of the Social Innovation Fellows.