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The PopTech Conference is like an east coast TED with a slightly bigger heart. Wonderfully curated by Andrew Zolli, the gathering always seems to highlight fascinating people right before they hit the mainstream. That is to say, don't be surprised to see the folks presenting at PopTech this weekend showing up next year at TED or in the New York Times Magazine or on Charlie Rose.

The whole program is streaming live from Camden, Maine. You can check out the schedule here, but I wouldn't try to cherrypick the best talks. Just pop in and see who Zolli's team has found for you. Of course, I may be biased. I wrote a few times for the PopTech blog and really believe in the organization's mission to accelerate the diffusion of innovative ideas to increase social goods.

This year's theme is "Brilliant Accidents, Necessary Failures, and Improbable Breakthroughs." Poptech asked some speakers to deliver their take on the theme in just six words. (Six Word Memoir project founder Larry Smith will be speaking.) Here's what they came up with:

The inevitable triumph of the nerds. --Craig Newmark
Yes, you can edit my biography --Jimmy Wales
Threw spaghetti at wall; some stuck. --Larry Smith
Life is one big editorial meeting. --Gloria Steinem
Never put bananas in your still-life. --Susan Winslow
Father: 'Anything but journalism.' I rebelled. --Malcolm Gladwell

Oh, and keep an eye out for the PopTech Social Innovation Fellows. The fellowship is a great program that several friends (Leila Janah, Heather Fleming and Emily Pilloton) have been a part of. PopTech's selection committee seems to have a knack for picking people right on the cusp of doing Big, Important Things. Here's the class of 2010.

Image: University of Toronto psychologist Kevin Dunbar talking about the brain and mistakes.

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