PopTech 2008 kicked off yesterday in Camden, Maine to an enthusiastic and boisterous crowd. Addressing this year's topic of "Scarcity and Abundance," presentations ranged from energy awareness to cello lessons (!). WattzOn's Saul Griffith opened the session with an overview of his energy consumption monitoring platform. In its alpha phase, WattzOn allows users to visualize and understand their personal energy footprint. Highlights from the morning included Malcolm Gladwell's discussion of cultural "capitalising" (an analysis of processes that affect success and failure in society) and Paul Polak's call to arms for low-cost, sustainable design solutions in developing countries. The afternoon was ripe with expression as Marian Bantjes' (pictured above) spoke of her transition from traditional graphic design to "meaningful" design. "I started creating work that was meaningful to me..." she said, "and discovered it was meaningful to other people as well...I made a decision to stop working for money. And start working for love."
Chandler Burr, the New York Times perfume critic, led the room through an exploration of scent and its relationship to history, culture and emotion (who knew patchouli smelled that way because it includes rotten LEAVES in its process?!). Ripe with anecdotes and hilarity, he cited the reason for differentiation between male and female perfumes as nothing more than "offering hetero-sexual men the freedom to wear scent in society."
Benjamin Zander, conductor of the Boston Philharmonic, ended the evening in great spirits with a presentation on the Art of Possibility. Conducting renditions of "Happy Birthday," he emphasized the need to "get up and conduct" in life, as well as the joy of making mistakes and embracing the present. His energy and optimism rang true with the entire crowd as he careened around the Opera House floor, using a young cellist's rendition of a Bach to offer insights on how to weave emotion and nuance not only into a musical piece, but everyday life. "I have a bigger dream," he closed the night with, "that you will live the rest of your life in possibility. That is my dream."
Check out more coverage on the PopTech blog.