Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Thoughts Before Pop Tech

Pop Tech: The Conference

For the uninitiated who would like to know, Pop Tech is a much anticipated conference on the impact of technology on the people. The website goes on to say we're here to talk about technology's "human impact."

It's more than that, however -- at least as I have understood it.

Pop Tech is a forum for people with remarkable experience and perspectives to share ideas. In other words, people come here to get recharged for their own missions, to learn other directions to go (sometimes, better), and to get inspired for the next long haul of doing whatever it is that they do.

From the Sublime . . .

This might sound a little mundane on the eve of an inspiring three days, but I can't help asking:

Why Camden?

I flew in from London to Philly, then from Philly to Portland, Maine. Not wanting to drive after that much time on planes, I took a taxi service to Camden where the conference is held every year. $215 later, I check into one of the pricey places in this very charming (but expensive) town.

It's not a lot better, even coming from the East Coast. I was talking to a fellow who traveled from Baltimore to Portland and then rented a car. The car was more expensive than the flight, The trip took forever.

Why Is This a Problem?

Pop Tech is devoted to changing the world - in fact, Andrew Golli, the curator, has begun several projects himself that can have real impact and next year is bringing 50 Fellows at no cost to help in this mission.

However, at the same time, Pop Tech has become so expensive and difficult to attend that only those with a lot of money -- or fame - can attend.

The cost is prohibitive for most independent consultants I know (even past speakers have told me that they can't justify the money to return as attendees). Starting next year, tickets are $3500. My boss will pay for it, but what of all the independent thinkers who could contribute who can't possibly afford the price of admission?

What's more, the conference is tied to the Camden Opera House that seats something like 400 people. This means, like Ted, if you aren't on the inside -- you either haven't already attended the conference or don't know when tickets go on sale -- you can't attend. There simply are no tickets left.

The value of the community work -- and of meeting the individuals who attend -- should be offered to people who are neither stars or wealthy (or "in"), particularly given the stated (and real) effect of the event -- inclusiveness of contributions from those with new perspectives.

It was a great experience, and I feel lucky to have attended, but this all must be said.

More on why people work so hard to get there in the next posts.

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